Forgive us if you've seen this one before. You only think you did. See, at this year's Shanghai Motor Show in April, Mercedes-Benz introduced its GLA Concept, bedecked with laser headlights, more lights than a rave party, and equipped with a modern industrial interior. It was only a concept in the details, as now we're finally getting to check out the real deal.
This subcompact crossover follows the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class with which it shares a platform and joined the tri-star lineup as the fifth crossover or SUV. It follows the Buick Encore and BMW X1 in the newly established--and surprisingly popular--small luxury crossover segment and may drive new customers to the brand.
Who It's For
Whether a Mercedes-Benz is equipped with MB Tex vinyl or leather and wood, the brand has always stood for comfort and quality. This one just happens to come in at a slightly lower price point for the aspiring jet set. Like the CLA, the Mercedes-Benz GLA will have the Kate Uptons and Ushers of the world showing us that this crossover is for moderately affluent, tech-savvy, style-conscious 30- and 40-somethings with a limited need for carrying people.
And a limited need to go anywhere too far from the beaten path.
While the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA comes with a few engine options abroad, the U.S. will only have a 208-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for starters paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Also in it are:
- Standard collision prevention assist and attention assist, which will help keep passengers safe.
- Standard 18-inch wheels. Because everyone needs big wheels on small cars.
- Nearly all the same optional safety equipment that you can get in an E-Class, including lane-keeping, paring, and blind spot assistance.
What We Think
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class kinda sorta looks like a gawky tall hatchback because, well, it is. But that hasn't stopped anyone so far when it comes to small crossovers, with the Mini Countryman, BMW X1, and Buick Encore all attracting plenty of patrons for prices approaching, if not exceeding, $30,000.
The Mercedes-Benz GLA is a safe bet for sales success, and it will likely attract other automakers like Audi to bring their small crossovers to the U.S.
This isn't your parents' Mercedes, and the brand knows that. It has been getting away from its old stuffy image for years, and this and the CLA will make that departure all the more clear. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic with all-wheel drive will be available in the U.S. during the fall of 2014, and the front-wheel-drive version will follow in early 2015. We know that's still a ways away, but the crossover will be headed to showrooms in Europe earlier. Will it be worth the wait? We have no idea at this point, but we imagine some luxury and AMG hop-up details to follow in the ensuing months will sweeten the GLA's promise a Mercedes for the masses.
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