Artist's rendering of the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA ClassEnlarge Photo
Though we’ve known for several years that Mercedes-Benz was planning to launch a new compact crossover based on its latest ‘MFA’ small car platform, which currently underpins the latest versions of the A Class and B Class models overseas and is set to debut in the U.S. next year in the new CLA four-door coupe, this week Mercedes-Benz finally made it official.
At this week's start of production of the latest A Class at Mercedes’ plant in Rastatt, Germany, the automaker revealed in a statement that its new generation of compact cars will span five different models, including the A Class, B Class, a new coupe and a crossover.
While it’s not clear what the fifth model will be, the automaker may simply be referring to a new electrified version of the B Class though there have also been reports that a compact roadster dubbed the SLA was in the works.
Furthermore, Mercedes' comments that the new vehicles will be "sporty and emotive" bodes well for the possibility of a compact roadster, though this could be typical press release hyperbole.
As for the crossover, expect it to be called the GLA Class in line with Mercedes' new naming practice. To compete against the Range Rover Evoque, expect this GLA to be a bit more sporting in appearance than the average crossover, although engines are likely to be pulled from current A and B class offerings. In other words, expect the GLA to look fast, not go fast (unless, of course, an AMG version is eventually offered). The rendering above gives us an indication of what to expect in terms of its styling.
The GLA will almost certainly be offered to customers in the U.S., most likely sometime in 2014. The base engine should be a four-cylinder with 211 horsepower on tap, and should come matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. It's unclear if both front-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations will be offered, or just the latter.