Mercedes’ latest product is aiming to cash in on the growing compact SUV craze by propping its entry-level CLA up on stilts and adding content.
Powered by the same 2.0-liter, 208-hp turbocharged four cylinder as the U.S.- market CLA 250, Mercedes’ live unveiling won’t take place until early September in Frankfurt. But ahead of that event, the brand is releasing details on the fifth utility vehicle in its lineup. Also like the CLA 250, torque is rated at 258 lb-ft, sent through a standard seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
Initially, Mercedes says it will only offer customers the 4Matic full-time all-wheel drive model, which comes with an off-road specific mode that will improve the vehicle’s handling in slippery conditions and on steep downhill grades. That version of the crossover will reach dealers this fall, while the front-wheel drive version scheduled to sell in early 2015.
But there’s more to Mercedes’ latest soft-road capable people carrier than that. The GLA stereo head unit can also be toggled to display off-road information. That includes the car’s steering angle, a compass, the vehicle’s roll angle in degrees and gradient position in percentage points. Downhill speed regulation is also shown.
Cabin styling looks identical to the its smaller CLA sibling, with a three-spoke steering wheel and five air vents on the dash board. Everything from the center console arm rest to the seat styling and button locations look the same.
Mercedes also stayed remarkably close to the exterior styling first seen on the Concept GLA shown during the Shanghai Auto Show earlier this year. There are minor tweaks to the sheet metal and different wheels, but the muscular shape remains mostly intact on the production car.
Off-road capability makes for easy advertising, but most GLAs will spend their lives on pavement and likely in an urban environment. The maker knows. Exterior dimensions size the crossover slightly shorter and lower than a BMW X1 and roughly the same width.
The split five-spoke 18-inch wheels shown here are included as standard equipment, as are the chrome roof rails.
Standard safety systems include what the auto maker is now calling its “collision prevention assist plus” technology. It marries an automatically braking collision prevention system with the brand’s adaptive cruise control technology, which can now protect against collisions starting at 4 mph. If the system detects a crash risk and the driver fails to respond, it can apply the brakes at up to 124 mph. Mercedes also says the systme can react to stationary vehicles at up to 18 mph and can prevent rear-end collisions at up to 12 mph. Drowsiness detection is also included in the standard equipment list.
Optional safety systems include blind spot monitoring and lane keeping assistance as well as automatic parallel parking. A power liftgate, adaptive cruise control a panoramic roof are also optional.
Pricing remains unannounced for both the all- and two-wheel drive models, but Mercedes’ will likely aim near the BMW X1. The Bavarian compact crossover starts around $35,000 for the all-wheel drive model. Mercedes will need to walk a think line between charging a premium over the CLA while maintaining prices in line with its rivals.