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Mercedes-Benz GLA lands

Crossing over: The GLA is Mercedes’ first compact crossover and arrives in local showrooms this month from $47,900, plus on-road costs.

Demand set to outstrip supply as Mercedes-Benz launches GLA compact crossover

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Mercedes-Benz logo11 Apr 2014

STOCK of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class compact crossover will be limited to 1000 this year, but the company’s local arm believes it could sell twice that amount if it had the supply.

Speaking at the local launch of the GLA 200CDI this week, Mercedes-Benz Asia/Pacific manager of public relations and product communications David McCarthy said supply for the chunky SUV was “pretty tight” this year, but that the company expects this to be freed up next year.

“In a full year, next year I believe it (GLA) will be somewhere between 1500 and 2000 (units). In a full year that compact car range (A- and B-Class hatches and CLA four-door coupe) will be 10,000 in a full year,” he said.

The German car-maker’s local arm has been forced to stagger the launch of the GLA in Australia due to global demand and production constraints, with the base 200 CDI in showrooms now, while the all-wheel drive 250 4Matic will arrive in July followed by the hardcore 265kW/450Nm GLA45 AMG in October.

Mr McCarthy said there were negatives and positives to launching variants months apart but that enquiry for the GLA was strong with about 25 per cent of the allocation already accounted for.

“We have to get a production slot and there are other markets that sell a lot more cars than us. But for us we wanted to get the models right. Staggering the launch has upsides and downsides but it’s the way it is.” The range kicks off with the GLA200 CDI from $47,900 excluding on-road costs, before moving up to the 250 4Matic at $57,900 and topping out with the GLA45 AMG from $79,900.

Mercedes-Benz could have introduced a lower-spec petrol GLA variant to keep the entry price down, but Mr McCarthy said the company was keen to introduce a well-specified model from launch.

“We are a premium brand and people expect a premium product. If you tried to bring the car in a lot lower, you could take a lot of that stuff out like the electric tailgate, but we believe people want that in the car in that market.” Slotting into the Benz line-up as the entry-level SUV under the larger ML-Class, the GLA features a design in keeping with the A-Class hatch with which it shares its MFA platform, albeit with crossover styling cues to appeal to SUV buyers.

Black side skirts with “bucket teeth” indentations, roof rails, a pair of indents in the bonnet that Mercedes calls “powerdomes”, big wheels and a ground clearance of 150mm (16mm higher than B-Class) push the SUV message.

The GLA also has a high belt-line that rises further towards the C-pillar, a lower air intake at the front a spoiler on the hatch, split tail-lights and daytime running lights reminiscent of other current Benz models including the A- and B-Class.

Measuring in at 4417mm long, 1804mm wide and 1494mm high, the GLA is 125mm longer, 24mm wider and 64mm higher than the A-Class, although they both have the same 2690mm wheelbase, while the B-Class tall boy hatch is 63mm higher.

Boot space of 421 litres is also up on the 341-litre cargo capacity of its A-Class sibling, however the rear seats in the GLA can be moved to the “cargo position” which shifts the backrest to a 90-degree angle allowing for additional space. With the rear seats down it expands to 1235 litres.

The cabin is pure A-Class, with the same three-spoke steering wheel, tablet-style 17.8cm display and X-marked air vents, but the GLA adds brushed metal inserts running across the dash from the passenger side window to the just below the display screen, contrasting stitching and chrome flourishes.

In base GLA 200 CDI guise, standard features include auto dimming rear-view mirror, Artico man-made leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity and USB port, ambient lighting in the door handles and foot wells, electric park brake, 60:40 split fold rear seats, six speaker audio, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, Nappa leather-wrapped steering wheel, power tail-gate and 18-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels.

It also gets Thermotronic dual-zone climate control, power windows, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlights, paddles shifters, cruise control, tinted glass, park assist, idle stop and twin exhaust with chrome-tipped tailpipes.

Shelling out and additional $10,000 for the $57,900 GLA250 4Matic adds electric front seats with memory, heated front seats, 19-inch alloys in high-gloss black, panoramic sunroof, anti-theft alarm system and an “intelligent light” system that features bi-Xenon headlights, cornering lights, LED tail-lights and adaptive high-beam assist.

The $79,900 GLA45 AMG naturally gains sportier touches such as 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, AMG body kit, AMG instrument cluster with race-timer, performance seats in black leather with contrasting red stitching, DAB+ digital radio, AMG branding on the mats and door sills, red seat-belts, and an AMG Speedshift seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

A number of options packages are available for lower spec variants, including the Comand package with digital radio, a Harmon Kardon surround sound system with 12 speakers, 10GB music register and internet connectivity from $2490, a Seat Comfort package from $900 and the AMG line styling kit that ranges from $1990 to $2490.

The 200 CDI is the sole diesel variant and is powered by a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine delivering 100kW/300Nm and riving the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

This model can dash from a standing start to 100km/h in 9.9 seconds and consumes 4.6 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.

The all-wheel drive GLA250 4Matic gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 155kW/211Nm, matched with the aforementioned seven-speed dual-clutch for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 7.1 seconds and fuel use of 7.0L/100km.

Mercedes has tweaked the turbo-petrol for the GLA45 to deliver 265kW/450Nm – identical to that of the A45 AMG and CLA AMG siblings – for a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds which is 0.2 seconds off the CLA and A-Class.

There are four transmission modes on offer including Eco, Sport, Manual (paddle shifters) and Off-road for 4Matic variants which also gain an on-demand system with an off-road mode that can send up to 50 per cent of torque to the rear wheels if required.

Safety wise, the GLA features nine airbags, Attention Assist driver fatigue warning, blind spot warning, brake assist, the Pre-Safe accident anticipatory system, an active bennet and adaptive braking hill start assist.

The GLA45 AMG gains lane-keep assist and a three-stage electronic stability program.

2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA pricing*
200 CDI (a) $47,900
250 4MATIC (a) $57,900
45 AMG (a) $79,900
*Excludes on-road costs.

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