Stuttgart/Shanghai. Mercedes-Benz will be showing a compact premium-class SUV at the “Auto Shanghai” motor show (21 to 29 April 2013) in the form of its Concept GLA. The Concept GLA combines dynamic styling with clear benefits for recreational use. Under the bonnet of this new concept vehicle (length/width/height: 4383/1978/1579 millimetres) sits a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine rated at 155 kW (211 hp) with a displacement of 1991 cc. Its power is transmitted to the road via the 7G-DCT dual clutch automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel drive. A new approach is taken here in the form of headlamps featuring laser technology: these not only shine more light on the road, but also function as projectors.
“The Concept GLA marks a new approach for us in the compact SUV segment – this is a sporty and more coupé-like evolution of this category of vehicle”, commented Dr Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Mercedes-Benz Cars, Sales and Marketing. “The Concept GLA is a compact SUV that combines its sporting spirit with the all-round qualities of a tough, leisure-time companion. ‘Escape the everyday’ is the message that this car conveys to its driver. It also makes clear the further potential of our compact vehicle architecture, which provides the basis for the A- and B-Class models that led the German market in their respective segments in the first quarter of 2013.”
Clear evidence of the innovative thinking on the part of the designers that has gone into this concept vehicle is provided by a number of distinctive features. These include the powerful bonnet with its powerdomes and a sporty radiator grille with centrally positioned star. The new-style surround to the star merges elegantly into two horizontal bars. Likewise new are the so-called “softcubes”: these are soft, raised pads that help to give definition to the radiator grille and are also to be found on the side sill panels and alongside the exhaust tailpipes.
The distinctive door mirrors, with their twin supporting struts, are fitted with a protective grille. This, like the underride guard at the front, is very much a typical SUV feature. The striking appearance of the Concept GLA is also, not least, the result of its silver Alubeam paint finish.
Seen from the side, too, the Concept GLA conveys a sense of power and confidence. This reinforces the overall design philosophy behind the vehicle with a “dropping line” that extends from the headlamp to the rear wheel arch. The beltline trim rises slightly from the rear door towards the C-pillar. Together with the light-catching contour formed by the curvature of the vehicle flank and the line that rises from the level of the door sill towards the dropping line, this creates a unique interplay of lines that adds to the sense of elegant dynamism. The slim door handles of the five-door vehicle are fully recessed, emerging at the touch of a button. The frameless side windows also emphasise the coupé characteristics of this concept vehicle.
The 20-inch wheels, with their distinctive five-spoke turbine design, are shod in size 255/45 R 20 tyres. These have been specifically created for the Concept GLA: their tread pattern continues the lines of the spokes in an optical illusion that makes the latter appear longer.
The muscular haunches above the rear axle, accentuated by the way the C-pillar is pulled in slightly, extend to the rear over the light clusters, so also emphasising the broad stance of the tail end. The outcome is a powerfully taut arc that nevertheless avoids aggression. This impression is reinforced by the curvature of the rear window and the elegant chrome strip between the rear light clusters. The large roof spoiler is a further eye-catching feature. This follows through very neatly on the structure of the rear roof panelling and provides the housing for the additional brake light.
Further SUV references, such as a load sill guard and a concealing underride fascia panel, are to be found in the area of the rear bumper covering. The twin-pipe exhaust system is evidence of the car’s sporty aspirations.
The tailgate features a power closing system that allows it to be opened or closed at the touch of a button. Opening the tailgate with its integrated rear light cluster reveals supplementary lights to warn approaching vehicles of the open tailgate. Further light clusters are housed in the rear cross member between the roof rails.