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by Jez Spinks

These are the first official images of the Mercedes-Benz GLA production model, revealed ahead of the new compact SUV’s debut at September’s Frankfurt motor show.

The showroom version of the company’s cheapest SUV is inevitably toned down from the Mercedes-Benz GLA concept unveiled in April (see bottom of story), looking like a jacked-up variant of the A-Class hatchback with which it shares its platform architecture.

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The GLA will go on sale in Europe in late 2013 before arriving in Australian showrooms in the second quarter of 2014, offering both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive variants..

It’s expected to be priced from about $45,000 and will plug a significant gap for Mercedes, allowing the Stuttgart-based brand to take on rival compact luxury SUVs including the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Range Rover Evoque.

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The Mercedes-Benz GLA misses out on the concept’s frameless windows but is more practical by offering five standard seats rather than four. There’s plastic sills and wheel-arches, though, to give the SUV a more rugged appearance.

GLA is 125mm longer, 24mm wider and 61mm taller than an A-Class. Boot access is wider and boot space larger – 80 litres more than the A-Class hatch at 421L. Folding the seats expands cargo capacity to 836 litres.

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The interior of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA brings a very subtle variation on the cabin designs of the A-Class and B-Class, employing the same iPad-style display, air vents, and infotainment and heating/ventilation sections.

The upper-dash treatment is the main visual difference between the GLA crossover and its hatchback relatives.

Front-seat occupants sit about 40mm higher than those in an A-Class to create the elevated seating position favoured by SUV buyers.

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The model pictured is the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic that will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 155kW and 350Nm in the A250 and B250.

Three other engines from launch will include the GLA200 with a 115kW/250Nm 1.6-litre turbo and two diesels comprising the GLA200 CDI utilising a 100kW/300Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel and the GLA220 CDI powered by a 125kW/350Nm 2.1-litre oil-burner.

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The transmission will consistently be a seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The 4Matic system available for the GLA250 and GLA 220 CDI will be the special version used for Benz’s compact models that makes then front-wheel drive in normal driving but, via an electrohydraulic clutch integrated into the rear axle, can turn vehicles such as the GLA into a torque-on-demand four-wheel-drive on slippery surfaces.

Up to 50 per cent of the vehicle’s torque can be sent to the rear wheels when required, while the GLA gearbox will include a special off-road mode to aid traction.

In late 2014 a Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG will top the range, bringing rapid performance from the 265kW 2.0-litre turbo already existing in the A45 AMG hot-hatch and CLA45 AMG four-door coupe.

Click on the Photos tab above to see the full range of Mercedes-Benz GLA official images.

Mercedes GLA concept




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