Every TTAC reader’s favorite Mercedes-Benz, the subcompact GLA, will soon appear with a new body in tow. It’s taller and more bulbous than before, but it’s also more suited to the segment it’s supposedly a member of: the subcompact crossover segment.
The previous GLA, which had an unhappy sibling in the form of the now-defunct Infiniti QX30, suffered from practicality concerns. With its small overall size and low roofline, interior volume was hardly cavernous. This time around, Mercedes-Benz wants to correct past mistakes.
The littlest member of the Infiniti crossover family appears ready to turn in its badge at the end of its product cycle.
Infiniti’s bite-sized crossover, called the QX40 QX20 QX30 (thanks, Johann), and the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class are a set of twins resulting from a tawdry relationship between Mercedes-Benz and the Japanese brand. Based on remarks made by Infiniti reps at the Detroit Auto Show, it doesn’t appear there will be a redux.
Mercedes-Benz plans to launch eight cars off the back of the new A-Class and, unsurprisingly, a bunch of them will be crossovers. While North America will have to wait until fall for the A-Class sedan, Europe will see the hatchback much sooner. However, those models are just the start of the upscale brand’s drive to push the platform into every segment its size limitations allows.
The hatch will remain the smallest model, but CEO Dieter Zetsche says Mercedes-Benz needs to keep its rivals on their toes — and the automaker intends to tap the MFA2 platform for that honor. While the expanded lineup gives MB an edge universally, we know which automaker the company is most concerned with: BMW.
Daimler AG’s Car2Go has been a great way for the company to dump Smart Fortwos on urban areas and turn a profit while the itty-bitty city car’s popularity wanes. However, with only the single small offering, Car2Go is the only vehicle-sharing service that forces subscribers to decide which of their two children will have to be left behind to fend for themselves every time they take a trip somewhere.
In response, Mercedes-Benz is providing its CLA and GLA to C2G’s North American fleet — reuniting families, allowing a week’s worth of grocery shopping in a single run, and making its service substantially more competitive with rival ZipCar.
Mercedes-Benz is giving the world an artful taste of its next generation of compact cars with its “Aesthetics A” design study. The updated design adopts a rounded, flowing look without the complete abandonment of hard edges. Benz claims the new aesthetic is the evolution of the current “Sensual Purity” design’s organic and tapered shapes. Great marketing, but it just makes the next design philosophy sound less intricate and involved. It sounds a little boring, although we won’t know for sure until we see a finished car.
In the abstract, however, the study hints at the general shape of eight new compact models coming from Benz over the next three years. The new A-Class, B-Class, GLA, and CLA will all be touched by the less curvaceous styling identity, which includes an imposing grille. A new compact sedan will arrive to rival Audi’s A3, along with an additional crossover to serve as an alternative to the GLA. All of the vehicles will make use of Benz’s modular front architecture platform (MFA) and move closer to in shape to company’s larger sedans.
Mercedes-Benz has a total of seven model series in the SUV/crossover playing field, ranging from its granddaddy G-Wagen to the compact GLA. Given SUVs and crossovers are enjoying record sales numbers, it should be no surprise manufacturers are wont to outdo their competitors by keeping them as fresh as possible.
Applying their considerable engineering might, the boffins in Stuttgart will kick off 2018 with a neue version of the GLA — with some new bumpers.
2015 Mercedes GLA 250 4Matic
2.0-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged, CVVT (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 lbs-ft @ 1,250 rpm)
7-speed “7G-DCT” dual-clutch automatic
24 city/32 highway/27 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
26.5 (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: 4Matic AWD, Driver Assistance package, Active Parking, Blind Spot Assist, Wood Trim, HID Lamps
* Prices include $925 destination charge.
Every luxury manufacturer is in a relentless pursuit downmarket. There are a few reasons for this but the most important are increasing volume, amortizing common development costs and snagging life-long brand loyalists as early as possible. The Mercedes GLA is the latest entry in a growing segment: small luxury crossovers.
Small luxury branded vehicles are nothing new to our European friends, but until recently BMW and Mercedes kept anything small and front-wheel drive far away from American hands. Until now. In 2014, Mercedes took their A-Class FWD hatch and made a sedan out of it. Calling it a “CLA”, the Civic-sized sedan was a runaway success starting at $31,000. Since crossovers are the hot segment to be in these days, it didn’t take Mercedes long to jack the CLA up and add a rear hatch to create the GLA.
Does the GLA have enough luxury to convince Ford Escape shoppers to jump up to a Mercedes? And perhaps more importantly: is it a real Mercedes?
2016 Audi Q3 Prestige
2.0-liter, DOHC I-4, CVVT (200 horsepower @ 5,100-6,000 rpm; 207 lbs-ft @ 1,700-5,000 rpm)
6-speed Tiptronic automatic
20 city/28 highway/23 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
20.2 mpg (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Prestige Trim, Quattro AWD, Sport Package
* Prices include $925 destination charge.
Audi’s Q3 isn’t a new vehicle by any stretch. It was first launched in 2011 but didn’t make it to America until the 2015 model year. That’s because the Q3 plays in a segment that’s new to us — the even-smaller compact luxury crossover. This form factor isn’t new to the rest of the world, but until Land Rover brought the Range Rover Evoque to America and BMW followed up with the X1, there wasn’t a real focus on small luxury soft-roaders.
With crossovers being the latest craze and every luxury brand looking to move down-market to capture fresh young buyers, it was only a matter of time till Mercedes and Audi joined the party with the GLA and the Q3. With a “low” $33,700 starting MSRP, the baby Audi is the more practical counterpart to Audi’s sharp-looking A3 sedan. Although CamCord shoppers have to give up a great deal of room to upgrade to the A3, the Q3 has the potential to be a more sensible option.
A manufacturing plant in Mexico jointly owned by Daimler and Renault-Nissan will begin construction imminently, according to Daimler.
The facility, which will be located in Aguascalientes — about 150 northeast of Guadalajara and 300 miles northwest of Mexico City — will build “compact premium vehicles” for the automakers, which may include the Mercedes-Benz CLA/GLA and the upcoming Infiniti Q30/QX30 that share similar front-wheel drive architectures.
Nissan is expected to produce vehicles from the plant for 2017, and Mercedes vehicles will roll of the lines in 2018.
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- FreedMike I guess some folks are just bound and determined to drive around with a grenade in their steering wheel.
- FreedMike Bit dear, but these might have collector appeal, particularly one with 20,000 miles (assuming that's not a doctored figure) that hasn't had the full "whip" treatment.
- Adam4562 I have Bluetooth in my car , the name comes up and I answer . It goes through the speaker. I’ll text on a stop sign or red light . If it’s really urgent hill pull over .
- Dukeisduke I'll pick up my phone and look at a text or something else while at a red light, but when the light turns green, the phone gets put down.
- Dukeisduke Haven't some cars been recalled multiple times (replacement airbags being recalled).