Designed to serve as an entry level model below the GLK crossover while also sharing roots with the CLA sedan, Mercedes-Benz has officially unveiled the production version of the 2015 GLA-Class ahead of its formal debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show. The exterior styling of the GLA retains some of the traits first seen when the GLA Concept made its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show, but it is also heavily inspired by the rest of its corporate stablemates, which contributes to its elegant yet aggressive styling which is aimed to make the model standout from competitors such as the BMW X1, Buick Encore, as well as the Audi Q3. The GLA’s arrival could also strongly suggest that the next generation GLK could become bigger and more luxurious when it is redesigned to allow it to appropriately separate from the smaller GLA and its value oriented mission.
The interior of the 2015 GLA Class retains many elements borrowed from the upcoming CLA 250 sedan, and is decidedly more stylish than many of its rivals in the compact luxury CUV segment. This is especially apparent in the dashboard layout of the GLA which is a stylish yet balanced mix of luxury and performance which should cater to buyers that want a balanced package and won’t settle for a set design theme.
When the GLA arrives here in the United States, it will be powered by the same 2.0 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that also sees duty in the CLA sedan. This tiny powerplant is capable of producing 208 horsepower and a healthy 258 lb-ft of torque which allows the GLA to make the sprint to 60 mph in a swift 6.4 seconds. A seven speed dual clutch automatic transmission will be the sole transmission choice and while the company has not released official fuel economy figures, expect the engine/transmission combo to achieve decent fuel economy ratings.
In addition to its respectable performance figures, the 2015 GLA is also the first Mercedes CUV to utilize a front wheel drive-based platform (which is standard on base GLAs) thanks in part to its CLA-Class/A-Class derived platform. This is a notable change, considering that all of the company’s other utility vehicles are built on rear wheel drive platforms borrowed from their passenger car and crossover offerings. However, for buyers living in the snow belt or for those who crave more traction, the company will also offer a new version of its venerable 4-Matic all-wheel drive system as optional equipment. While the GLA was clearly designed to be an on-road entry, the seven speed transmission will feature an “off road” mode which allows the vehicle to maintain a safe and steady pace while undertaking descents from steep grades. But with its rather low ground clearance and lack of a formal transfer case, expect the GLA’s adventures in the wilderness to be limited to gravel back roads and light sandy trails.
After it makes its debut at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, look for the the 2015 GLA-Class to begin arriving here in the U.S. with up level 4-Matic versions arriving in early 2014 while the front wheel drive variant will make its debut in early 2015. Mercedes Benz has not released pricing for the GLA, but expect it to be on par with many of its rivals.