- The Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA compact crossover, which previews an upcoming production vehicle, debuted ahead of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show.
- A production version of the Concept GLA is expected to go on sale in the U.S. by fall 2014.
- The Mercedes-Benz GLA is set to do battle with the BMW X1.
MONTVALE, New Jersey — The Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA compact crossover, which previews an upcoming production vehicle, debuted ahead of the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show.
A production version of the Concept GLA is expected to go on sale in the U.S. by fall 2014.
The four-passenger Concept GLA has the BMW X1 in the crosshairs. The BMW X1 sDrive28i starts at $31,695, including an $895 destination charge.
The Concept GLA is another radical step forward for Mercedes-Benz when it comes to embracing a younger audience that demands more affordable vehicles. Perhaps as a way to draw in that group, the Mercedes-Benz concept has an intriguing high-tech feature. They are headlights fitted with a laser-beam projector that is capable of projecting pictures or videos onto a screen or other surface.
"Any media format that can be operated through the Comand system can serve as a source: pictures or videos from a smartphone, the Internet or from a hard drive," said the company. "Alternatively, the action can be produced live. The Concept GLA is fitted with two cameras, housed in the front roof rail. And these can be used for far more than just 3D images as the Concept GLA drives along: the HD cameras can be removed, and, for example, fitted to a mountain bike helmet."
The technology could improve road safety, according to Mercedes-Benz. It can be used to project directional instructions from the navigation system onto the road in the form of arrows so drivers and pedestrians can see where the driver is heading.
The all-wheel-drive Concept GLA is almost 17 inches shorter than the 2013 Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The Concept GLA is 172.5 inches long, 77.8 inches wide and 62.1 inches tall. In comparison, the M-Class is 189.1 inches long, 84.3 inches wide and 70.7 inches tall.
Mercedes' Concept GLA is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers 208 horsepower. The engine is linked to a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
The concept "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," said Dr. Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Sales and Marketing, in a statement.
A hood with "powerdomes," along with 20-inch wheels, a large roof spoiler and twin-pipe exhaust system are featured on the latest concept crossover. Inside, the Concept GLA's cabin gets leather trim and dark galvanized aluminum touches.
Much is made of lighting in the concept, which features an illuminated insert set into the integrated head restraint of each seat. The air vents in the dashboard are also illuminated from behind in red, white or blue, depending on the temperature setting.
Edmunds says: One of the most important debuts at the Shanghai auto show, especially as Mercedes-Benz continues to court younger buyers in the U.S.