Sleek lines of the Mercedes GLA concept SUV are likely to be translated into reality

Sleek lines of the Mercedes GLA concept SUV are likely to be translated into reality

If you wanted to bring a tear to the eyes of anyone at Mercedes-Benz Australia during the last few years all you had to do was ask about their range of compact SUVs – because there was no such thing as a compact Mercedes SUV.

Arch rivals Audi and BMW were making big sales and equally big dollars by selling their Q3 and X1 and X3 respectively, but Mercedes had nothing smaller than the family-sized M-Class to sell.

In Australia that is, because Mercedes-Benz has been making a compact SUV called the GLK for the past five years. The trouble was it had its steering wheel on the wrong side for Australia and there were no plans to do a conversion. This was possibly a legacy from the failed Daimler Chrysler partnership that would have been in force during the initial planning stage of the GLK. Our American cousins simply don’t understand that the rest of the world isn’t the same as their market.

Anyhow, there’s a finally a light at the end of the tunnel for Benz in Australia. Mercedes’ head office has just shown a concept of its all new GLA compact SUV at the Shanghai Motor Show.

The debut of the production model won’t be until later in the year, probably at the Frankfurt Motor Show in mid September, but we don’t anticipate it looking a lot different to the shape of the concept shown here in our photographs. The sleek lines are in keeping with the current trend in Mercedes bold small car shapes. The boldness of the grille is something to behold and right in line with Mercedes’ newfound modernity.

That’s the good news, the bad news is that the Mercedes-Benz GLA won’t be in Australia for at least another 15 to 18 months. However, it might be an idea to contact your local dealer well ahead of time, because the all-new A-Class is selling like hotcakes and the waiting list is starting to embarrass the local importer.

The Concept GLA at Shanghai has dimensions similar to that of the aforementioned Audi and BMW SUVs and is powered by a 155 kW four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. It has a seven-speed dual clutch transmission and Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system.

We would anticipate less powerful engines and front-wheel-drive to lead off the line up and for turbo-diesels to be on offer as well. Perhaps even an AMG model a couple of years down the track.

Interestingly, the concept GLA at Shanghai is shown with four individual seats rather than a rear bench. We would like to see both options on offer when the compact SUV comes downunder. The four-seater looks great and would be all that many buyers want, the traditional five-seat arrangement would be there for the family man or woman who has been hankering after a compact SUV with a three-pointed star on the grille for years.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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