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Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG: baby SUV turns up the heat

The high-performance Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG compact crossover has been spied for the first time undergoing cold-weather testing in northern Sweden.

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Although the standard version of the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is not due to be unveiled until later this year, the German brand’s high-performance division in Affalterbach is wasting no time in developing a faster, meaner AMG derivative.

The new GLA-Class will become the fourth vehicle built on Mercedes’ MFA (Mercedes Front-Wheel Drive Architecture), following the B-Class mini MPV, A-Class hatchback and recently revealed CLA-Class ‘four-door coupe’.

Just as the standard GLA-Class will share engines, transmissions and other mechanical components with its MFA family members, the GLA45 AMG will also inherit the circa-265kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, seven-speed dual-clutch auto and all-wheel-drive hardware from the upcoming A45 AMG and CLA45 AMG flagships.

The GLA45 AMG’s mechanics promise to make it one of the hottest baby SUVs on the market, and it’s unlikely to be rivalled in the performance stakes until Audi launches its rumoured RSQ3.

The GLA45 AMG sits lower than the standard Mercedes GLA-Class, giving it a more hunkered-down stance compared with the base car’s taller ride height. The prototype sports a unique front bumper and headlights, larger wheels, drilled brakes and dual exhaust pipes, and our spy photographers told us the sound emitted by the latter left no doubt in their minds Mercedes means business with the upcoming addition to its AMG range.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is rumoured to make its international debut at September’s Frankfurt motor show, suggesting the GLA45 AMG may not surface in production form until next year.

Mercedes-Benz Australia is hopeful of introducing the GLA in 2014, with the AMG variant set to follow in the subsequent months.