Mercedes-Benz has taken the wraps off its smallest SUV ever produced, the GLA. Mercedes clearly as the BMW X1 in its sights with this new vehicle. The GLA is small – measuring 14.5 feet long and just under 5 feet high. It’s more wagon (or crossover, depending on the terminology you like) than SUV, but it provides Mercedes with an entry-level SUV option that has proven popular around the world.
The GLA-Class will provide a smaller, more fuel-efficient option for consumers. It sports a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 208 horsepower through a seven-speed transmission. It can go from zero to 60 miles an hour in 6.4 seconds, with a top speed of 145 mph.
The GLA will be equipped with many of Mercedes-Benz’s safety features, including Attention Assist drowsy-driver detection, a radar-based Collision Prevention Assist with Adaptive Brake Assist, and Collision Prevention Assist Plus.
Many luxury automakers have been reluctant to embrace smaller SUVs for fear that the smaller, lower-priced vehicles will damage the brand’s image. Thus Mercedes will need to balance affordability with luxury standards. While small, expect the GLA-Class to offer and exceptional ride, and a quiet interior with all the latest technology.
The all-wheel-drive 2015 GLA will go on sale in the fall of 2014, while the front-wheel-drive version will be available in early 2015.
The GLA-Class will mark the second front-wheel-drive model that Mercedes-Benz is making available in the U.S., after the CLA. However, the GLA will initially only be available with Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. That first model comes to U.S. dealers in fall 2014, while the front-wheel-drive model is scheduled for a 2015 release.
Mercedes-Benz integrates Google Maps features
Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Nissan target 2017 for fuel cell vehicles
Facebook Graph Search takes on Google
In a press release, Mercedes-Benz boasted about the GLA’s off-road capability. The car includes a hill descent program and a special transmission program for off-road driving.
More interesting is that the GLA will come with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, a type of gearbox relatively new to Mercedes-Benz, though in widespread use by competitor Audi.
In the U.S., the model will only be sold as the GLA250, meaning it will have a direct-injection turbocharged 2-liter engine. This powerplant will make 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which translates to a zero-to-60 mph time of 6.4 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz.
The car design also incorporates aerodynamic features such as underbody paneling. It also comes with an idle-stop feature, which shuts the engine down at stoplights.
Similar to BMW’s recent interior designs, Mercedes-Benz makes the GLA’s main LCD a standalone component, sticking up from the center of the dashboard. The company says the car will come with its latest Comand-system electronics, which should include everything from navigation to integrated Internet apps.
Mercedes-Benz presents an impressive list of driver assistance features, with almost everything we saw in our recent review of the 2014 S550. The GLA will come with a radar-based automated braking system, and will also offer blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and automatic parallel parking.
The GLA will slot in below the GLK, putting it at the smallest end of Mercedes-Benz’s SUV range.