Mercedes-Benz’s second-generation GLA SUV gets a roomier interior and a tech upgrade to serve as a conquest vehicle in its growing segment.
Mercedes unveiled the new GLA on Wednesday online, the first time the brand has premiered a new model on a live stream.
The GLA will arrive in European dealerships in the spring and go on sale in the U.S. and China next summer. It will be a rival to the BMW X2 and Audi Q2 in Europe.
The GLA is the eighth member of Mercedes’ compact-car family and the brand’s entry-level SUV. It’s based on the A-class and is positioned below the more practical, boxy GLB, which offers up to eight seats, as a rival to the BMW X2 and Audi Q2.
“The GLB is the most functional and most spacious representative of our compact class family, while the new GLA is positioned as its sporty brother and as a lifestyle-oriented SUV,” Mercedes sales and market chief, Britta Seeger, said in a statement.
The GLA targets millennials before they have a family, said Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions. “Where their parents would have purchased a coupe, today’s aspiring professionals look to stylish utilities before moving up to the bigger models when their own kids arrive,” Fiorani said.
Design redo
The latest GLA provides more interior space than the first generation for hauling people and their weekend bags. It is 100 mm (4 inches) taller than its predecessor, but 15 mm (0.6 inches) shorter, offering more headroom in the front and more legroom in the rear.
Design changes include an upright front section, short overhangs at the front and rear, and protective cladding.
The dashboard is anchored by a free-standing display unit, available with either two 7-inch displays or two 10.25-inch displays.
The GLA, like the brand’s newer models, features the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, infotainment system.
The model also offers a suite of driver-assistance systems.
Its active brake assistance system can apply autonomous braking to avoid a collision or to reduce its severity.
The driving assistance packages now include a turning manoeuvre function, a warning function alerting the driver to approaching cyclists or vehicles, and a warning when pedestrians are detected near crossings.
Launch engines are 163-hp, 1.3-liter and 306-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline units. Further options will be introduced later.
Mercedes has sold more than 1 million GLAs globally since the model debuted in 2014.

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