Mercedes unveils GLA sport utility at FrankfurtWed, 11 Sep 2013 00:00:00 -0700
The role of the coming Mercedes GLA sport utility is clear: woo new buyers to the brand with a competent, stylish entry-level SUV. The small off-roader should do just that when it arrives in U.S. showrooms in the fall of 2014.
The GLA shares a lot with the recently introduced CLA sedan, not only in purpose -- getting those new, young buyers -- but in drivetrain. The GLA is powered by the same 208-hp, 258-lb-ft turbocharged direct-injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder that drives the CLA sedan. Even start/stop is included.
The first GLAs will come with a new generation of Mercedes' 4MATIC all wheel-drive, making it the first platform to get the fully variable system. The rear power take-off comes directly out of the seven-speed dual clutch transmission. The rear axle includes an integrated, electrohydraulically controlled multidisk clutch that allows what Mercedes calls “fully variable distribution of torque between front and rear axles.”
The 4MATIC AWD system on the Mercedes CLA is listed as "fully variable." Turns out that means it can send 50 percent of its torque to the rear wheels.
"It's fully variable up to 50 percent," said a spokesman, who then claimed the release was written "before I got here."
A front-wheel drive version will arrive in early 2015.
Suspension is fully independent, with MacPherson struts up front and a four-link rear. The electromechanical power steering is integrated with various computer controls to provide steering inputs such as lane-keeping assist.
Considering it's essentially an A-class platform, the GLA looked much larger on the show stand in Frankfurt. With exterior dimensions of 173.9 inches long, 71 inches wide and 58.8 inches high, the GLA is nonetheless smaller than utes like the BMW X1 and RAV4.
While we won't drive any GLAs for quite a while, we did drive the GLA's sedan cousin, the CLA, and found it highly competent on both fast highway straights and around corners. In the CLA we got a 0-60 time of 6.7 seconds, so with an assumed heavier package here the GLA might get to 60 mph in the lower sevens, though Mercedes claims 6.4 seconds.
And just because it's small and entry-level doesn't mean the GLA won't be loaded. Standard features will include collision prevention assist, attention assist and the mbrace2 connectivity package. Options include a power liftgate, distronic plus cruise control, lane-keep assist, panoramic sunroof, sport package and that wildly futuristic parallel parking aid parktronic parking assist found on more expensive cars.
Look for pricing to be announced closer to the GLA's fall of 2014 launch.
About the showThe 2013 Frankfurt motor show will be held Sept. 10-22 in Germany. Premium automakers appear ready to try to outdo each other with eye-catching electric supercars. Green technology and fuel efficiency will take center stage on the stands of most automakers at the show. For news, reveals and photos straight from the floor in Frankfurt, check out our special Frankfurt motor show section here.
By Mark Vaughn