Vijay Pattni18 April 2013

Mercedes unveils the GLA Concept

Compact SUV based on the new A-Class lands in Shanghai packing 211bhp turbo

Merc GLA concept

This is the new GLA concept. It previews Merc’s upcoming mini-SUV and is based on the spangly new A-Class platform, the same platform that underpins the CLA mini-saloon.

So far, so straightforward. But here’s the weird bit: the GLA wants to recreate the mom-n-apple-pie nostalgia of 1950’s Americana.

How so? Because fitted into its bulbous headlights are two laser-beam projectors, capable not only of projecting light to see some road/nearby trees/terrified pedestrians, but – should the mood arise – pictures or films onto a screen, which you can upload yourself or download from the Internet. Probably a good time to erase your browsing history…

See all the pictures of the new Mercedes GLA concept 

Aside from the ability to run your own portable cinema, Mercedes is keen to emphasise the more sporting nature of this baby SUV; the power domed bonnet, the ‘dropping’ roofline, that muscular rear and of course, 20in wheels. Looks pretty dandy, you’ll agree.

Size-wise, it’s of similar dimensions to an Audi Q3, although the Merc is a tad wider and lower (as you’d expect from a concept car). Underneath lurks the same 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine you’ll find in an A250. Mercedes hasn’t provided any performance details for you to argue over, but in the A-Class, that engine – with 258lb ft of torque – is good for a 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 149mph.

There’s also a seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox on board, together with Mercedes’ ‘4MATIC’ all-wheel-drive system – like in the lovely new 4WD E63 AMG that we won’t get in the UK (sad face).

Inside, you’ve got the typical concept car flourishes, loaded to the brim with galvanized aluminium, quite a lot of leather, hand-stitched seams, four individual sports seats, fibre optic lighting and Plexiglas buttons for the COMAND system. Oh, and remember we mentioned those projectors in the headlights? They’re not only a neat little concept embellishment, but could be used – says Mercedes – to project the direction instructions from the sat nav onto the road in the form of arrows, visible to other road users too, letting them know which way you’re turning. Indicators? Where we’re going, we don’t need indicators!

See all the pictures of the new Mercedes GLA concept 

There are also HD cameras slotted into the roof rail – like the ones on mountain bike helmets – allowing you the opportunity to film your exploits, or indeed as evidence to send for help should you get stuck off the beaten track surrounded by lots of mud.

Let us know below what you make of Merc’s new GLA Concept – is it tastier than an Audi Q3 and BMW X3? Remember, as we mentioned many moons ago on, these mini SUVs will soon take over the planet…


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