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by Tim Beissmann

Mercedes-Benz has been spotted testing its all-new ‘GLA-Class‘ baby SUV ahead of the top-secret A-Class-based crossover’s anticipated launch in 2014.

The images reveal a left-hand-drive prototype of the upcoming Mercedes GLA in full production bodywork undergoing testing in Europe, giving us our first look at the chunky new high-riding hatchback from Stuttgart that’s designed to compete head-to-head with its Audi Q3 and BMW X1 compatriots.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is based on the same MFA (Mercedes Front-Wheel Drive Architecture) as the all-new A-Class hatch and the B-Class MPV.

While the relationship with the new A-Class is obvious in its design, the GLA appears beefier and more muscular than the hatchback thanks to its upright grille and headlights, broad bonnet, wide hips and higher driving position.

The flatter roofline creates larger windows in the rear doors – likely enhancing rear visibility – while the raked glass of the tailgate tapers down to a flat rear end with prominent horizontal tail-lights.

The GLA promises to offer more rounded, urban-focused styling than the boxy mid-sized GLK-Class. The current-generation GLK is only available in left-hand drive, but Mercedes plans to offer both the new GLA and the second-generation GLK in right-hand drive to make them available across the globe, including markets like Australia and the UK.

The Mercedes GLA will borrow its petrol and diesel engines from the four-cylinder line-up used to power the the A-Class and B-Class.

Like the A-Class, front-wheel drive will be the standard layout, with all-wheel drive available as an option.

In July, Mercedes-Benz confirmed its all-new baby SUV would be produced alongside the A-Class and B-Class at its Rastatt plant in Germany. It is expected to become the fourth of five vehicles produced off the MFA platform, joining the A-Class, B-Class, the CLA-Class ‘four-door coupe’ and a compact sports car rumoured to be called the SLC.




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