The compact Mercedes-Benz family will expand once again, with the reveal of the GLA compact SUV.
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The second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLA has been revealed ahead of its Australian launch in the third quarter of 2020.

It's yet another member of the three-pointed star brand’s family of MFA II-based, front- and all-wheel drive compact cars, joining the A-Class hatch and sedan, B-Class MPV, CLA four-door coupe and shooting brake, and GLB SUV.

The new GLA ditches its predecessor’s jacked-up hatch look in favour of a more upright SUV appearance, as employed by key rivals like the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40.

That change in positioning is evident in its dimensions. While it may be 14mm shorter in overall length than its predecessor, the second-gen model is 30mm wider, 30mm longer in wheelbase, and a staggering 104mm taller.

From the outside the GLA adopts many of the styling traits seen on recent Mercedes models like the B-Class, CLA and GLC, including slim LED tail-lights, dual ‘power domes’ on the bonnet and elements of the ‘predator’ front fascia shared by many of Benz’s recent compact cars.

The hot GLA35 variant – which, in a break from tradition, was unveiled alongside its regular counterpart – benefits from additional sporty design touches including dual exhaust tips, unique front fascia trim, Panamericana front grille and a rear lip spoiler.

Alloy wheels up to 20 inches in size can be had on regular models, or up to 21 inch on the top-trim AMG 35.

Mercedes-Benz claims a drag coefficient of 0.28, marginally more than the 0.25 figure quoted by the lower A-Class hatch.

Inside, it’s fairly standard compact Mercedes fare, with the dashboard dominated by two touchscreens up to 10.25 inches in size running the German brand’s latest MBUX operating system.

Other available features include a full-colour head-up display, augmented reality satellite navigation and ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant functionality.

The GLA35 gains an AMG-branded steering wheel with a 12 o’clock centre marker, sports seats trimmed in leather and suede, AMG-specific gauge cluster displays, red accents throughout the cabin and an AMG Track Pace infotainment app.

The dimensional upgrade translates inside, where rear legroom, elbow room and shoulder room have increased by 116mm, 45mm and 43mm respectively. There’s 6mm less rear headroom, however. Space up front has seen a similar increase.

Mercedes claims front passengers now sit higher up than in the outgoing GLA, and 140mm higher than in the A-Class.

Boot space has grown to 435 litres with all rows in place. The second row can slide up to 14 centimetres forward or back, with 40:20:40 split folding capability available on higher trim levels.

A plethora of advanced safety technologies will be offered with the GLA – these include autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, evasive steering assist, traffic sign detection and an intelligent autonomous emergency braking system that adjusts the vehicle’s speed when approaching intersections or bends based on navigation data.

The ‘car wash’ feature from the larger GLS has made its way to the baby Mercedes SUV, which folds the mirrors, changes climate control settings and switches on the external cameras to optimise the car wash experience.

Under the skin, the new GLA sports 46mm wider tracks front and rear which, combined with MacPherson strut front and multi-link independent rear suspension, should assist in providing a more dynamic drive.

A broad set of four-cylinder engines will be available in Europe, with petrol and diesel options paired with a choice of manual or dual-clutch automatic transmissions.

Mercedes has focused on the GLA200 in its initial materials, powered by a 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 120kW of power and 250Nm of torque.

Drive is sent to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission – the 0-100km/h sprint is covered in a claimed 8.7 seconds.

Sitting atop the range (for now) is the GLA35. Under the bonnet is the familiar, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-pot powering all other AMG 35 derivatives – it produces 225kW of power and 400Nm of torque, sent to all wheels through an eight-speed DCT and a front-biased 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

It’s capable of completing the 0-100km/h sprint in 5.1 seconds, towards an electronically limited 250km/h top speed.

Additional petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid variants will arrive in 2020, along with high-performance GLA45 and GLA45 S versions with up to 310kW.

Other revisions made by Mercedes-AMG to the GLA 35 include additional body bracing underneath the engine, a variable steering rack and five selectable drive modes (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual) that alter variable exhaust mode, stability control, throttle response, gearbox response and firmness of the optional adaptive dampers.

Stopping power in the 35 comes from 350mm front sports brakes with four-piston calipers, and 330mm rear discs with single-piston calipers.

4Matic all-wheel drive is also available on higher-power variants within the core range. The front/rear torque split is configurable depending on drive mode: Eco and Comfort see an 80:20 split, Sport changes that to 70:30, while off-road mode locks it to 50:50.

All 4Matic models sport the Off-Road Engineering package as standard, which consist of off-road-specific exterior LED headlight modes, roll angle and gradient infotainment telemetry, hill-descent control and the aforementioned additional drive mode.

When will the GLA arrive in Australia?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA is set to go on sale in Europe in the northern spring of 2020, ahead of an Australian debut in the third quarter. Stay tuned to CarAdvice for a full pricing and specs breakdown closer to launch.