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Mercedes is grabbing at the small luxury car market with gusto as it officially unveils the Concept GLA during the Shanghai Auto Show.
Referred to as an all-wheel drive, “premium compact SUV,” the GLA concept previews future brand technology and Mercedes’ upcoming GLA compact crossover. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine with 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque in conjunction with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The Concept GLA “makes clear the further potential of our compact vehicle architecture, which provides the baiss for the A- and B-Class models that led the German market in their respective segments in the first quarter of 2013,” marketing executive Joachim Schmidt said.
Aside from mechanical features Mercedes carried over from the concept’s production siblings, it also features 20-inch wheels and a host of futuristic features. Those include video projecting headlamps and two detachable roof rack-mounted high-definition cameras with lighting.
Mercedes says the video projection system can be paired with any media the car is compatible with through its COMAND system. The system can also play back what you record using the removable cameras, and of course that playback can take place via the projectors or exclusively inside the cabin.
But there’s more to it than being able to force your favorite photo albums on helpless friends during a camping trip. Mercedes lists more practical safety applications like projecting upcoming turns and directions ahead of the car. That could help drivers avoid glancing at a navigation screen while showing outsiders where the car is heading.
Mercedes also added less obvious design elements like “softcube” details on the grille, sill and tailpipes as well as protective grilles on the side mirrors. The door handles are fully recessed and emerge at the touch of a button similarly to the Tesla Model S.
Interior styling follows closely in the CLA’s footsteps while borrowing elements from the Concept Style Coupe. Don’t expect especially stylistic parts like the illuminated air vents to carry over, but others like the four individual seats likely will.
Mercedes loves to take even the most production-bound concept cars beyond what mass production would encourage. Items like video projecting headlights and the heavily styled exterior won’t be in the final version, but the two will carry quit a bit of common DNA if the Concept Style Coupe’s mild metamorphosis into the CLA is any indication.