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.
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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