Even with four other SUVs in its U.S. lineup, Mercedes-Benz is adding another one to ensure that no customer coming to its showrooms will go away empty-handed. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.

From a design and style standpoint, the GLA is clearly the most carlike of Mercedes' SUVs to date. It bears a high beltline, low roofline, and broad, low-slung proportions. Its family resemblance to the CLA sedan is no coincidence, and a case could be made that the GLA is essentially a tall CLA wagon. Buyers wanting a more aggressive stance can select 19-inch wheels as an upgrade from the standard 18-inchers.

Although the GLA slots in below the GLK in Mercedes' lineup, it sacrifices little in terms of style or content. The interior shares more with Mercedes' car models, with five signature round air vents centrally-located on the dashboard, which is available in satin-finished wood or aluminum trim. The dash is accented with stitched-seam detailing and features a tablet-like central display screen in the middle. Mercedes' familiar three-spoke steering wheel design gives the GLA a sporty feel and Mercedes seat-shaped, door-mounted power seat adjustment controls lend an immediate familiarity to the interior.

Dimensionally, the GLA is longer but narrower than the Range Rover Evoque, a vehicle it will inevitably be compared to at its debut. Its 173.9-inch length, 71.0-inch width and 58.8-inch height make it slightly shorter, lower and wider than the BMW X1.

At launch, the GLA will be offered with one powertrain, the 2.0-liter direct-injected turbocharged I-4 from the CLA, making 208 hp and 258 lb-ft in this application, paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel-drive. After its initial debut, the GLA will be offered in front-wheel-drive as well. A diesel model for European markets, and possibly a higher-performance AMG are some potential future variants we may see down the road.

Underpinnings are fairly conventional. The front suspension uses a McPherson strut setup while the rear is a multilink unit with three control arms and one trailing arm. Aluminum is used for the wheel carriers and spring control arms to reduce unsprung mass.

As expected of a Mercedes-Benz, safety is a major focus of the GLA, with Collision Prevention Assist and Attention Assist standard, and Blind Spot Assist, Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control, and Lane Keeping Assist optional. All-wheel-drive models also get Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR), as part of the off-road transmission mode. Mercedes-Benz is claiming a 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds and a top speed of 145 mph for the GLA.

The GLA will be officially unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show next month, with sales beginning in fall 2014 for 4Matic models, and front-wheel-drive models available starting early calendar 2015.


2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class
BASE PRICE $32,000-$34,500 (MT est)
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINES 2.0L/208-hp/258-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSIONS 7-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT 3400-3600 lb (MT est)
WHEELBASE 106.3 in (MT est)
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT 173.9 x 71.0 x 58.8 in
0-60 MPH 6.4 sec (est)
EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON Not yet rated
ON SALE IN U.S. Fall 2014 (GLA250 4Matic); Early 2015 (GLA250)