Mercedes-Benz has revealed the second-generation GLA, which, with its promising new technology and greater comfort, will step up the pressure on the BMW X2 in the fast-growing compact crossover market.
At launch, the line-up will include a hot AMG version, while plug-in hybrid and electric versions are planned for the future.
The original GLA was launched five years ago, and almost a million units have been sold globally since then. As with its predecessor, the new model draws heavily on the closely related A-class.
Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kallenius describes the second-generation GLA as being "better in every respect, with more convenience, more safety and more efficiency."
The model will launch with the entry-level, front-wheel-drive GLA 200, which uses a 163hp, 1.3-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, and the four-wheel-drive Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, powered by a 306hp, 2.0-litre turbocharged engine. The GLA 200 comes, which comes with a standard 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, can do 0-100kph in 8.7sec and hit a top speed of 211kph.
Further options will be introduced later in the year; our sister publication Autocar UK understands these will include a 218hp 1.3-litre petrol-electric plug-in hybrid badged the GLA 250e EQ Power. This will use the same 15.6kWh lithium-ion battery as the A250e EQ Power, providing it with an official electric-only range of more than 64km.
Stylistically, the new GLA builds on the foundations of its predecessor, albeit with ground clearance raised by 9mm, to 143mm. Design head Gordon Wagener claims it "combines muscular off-road genes with our philosophy of sensual purity."
The exterior combines smoother surfacing with more rugged detailing than other compact Mercedes models, including plastic cladding on the wheel arches and bumpers. Larger wheelhouses accommodate wheels ranging from 17-inch to 20-inch.
The AMG model gains a number of bespoke design features, including a Panamericana grille, a new roof spoiler and different tailpipes.
The new GLA is 4,410mm long, 2,020mm wide and 1,611mm high, making it 14mm shorter and 2mm narrower but 104mm higher than the old model. It's based on the second-generation version of Mercedes' MFA platform, with a transverse engine mounting, and has its wheelbase extended by 30mm to 2,729mm and its track increased by 46mm, front and rear.
Inside, the new GLA is similar to other recent Mercedes models, featuring a dashboard with a free-standing digital display panel. This contains two 7.0-inch screens for the instruments and infotainment functions as standard, with an optional widescreen version using two 10.3-inch screens. The displays are operated via Mercedes' MBUX operating system, which supports both, touchpad and voice control. A colour head-up display is also available.
To emphasise the crossover nature of the GLA, the front seats are positioned 140mm higher than in the A-class. There's 22mm more headroom up front than in the original GLA, but rear headroom has been reduced by 6mm.
As with the B-class and recently introduced GLB, buyers can specify the GLA with a rear seat offering 140mm of fore-and-aft adjustment, giving up to 116mm more leg room than before.
Because the rear backrest can now be set at a steeper angle, boot capacity has increased by 14 litres, to 435 litres. The width of the boot aperture has also increased by 85mm, at 1,272mm.
As with other recent Mk2 MFA-based compact models, the GLA suspension has McPherson struts up front and either a torsion beam or multi-link arrangement at the rear. Variable damping control is optional.
Four-wheel-drive models can also be ordered with an off-road package. While offering no increase in ride height, this adds an off-road headlight function and an additional off-road driving mode called Downhill Speed Regulation.
The new GLA will go on sale in international markets in the second quarter of next year and can also be expected to arrive at our shores by the end of 2020. The oncoming year seems to be a busy one for Mercedes-Benz India, with the automaker slated to launch a host of new and updated models, including the A-class sedan, GLE and GLS. When it does go on sale, the next-gen GLA will continue to fight it out with the BMW X1 and the Volvo XC40 in our market.