Mercedes-Benz lost its leadership in the luxury car segment in India to BMW recently, after the latter launched the X1 compact SUV, which is getting huge volumes for the Bavarian automaker. Mercedes-Benz understands the importance of a volume vehicle like the X1 and started work on the GLA compact SUV immediately. However the Mercedes GLA won’t be ready till the end of the year and will be launched only in 2013. Initially to be available in Europe, the GLA will make its Indian arrival by 2014. Audi was quicker with reacting to BMW’s onslaught with the X1 and has already launched the Q3 compact SUV in Europe, with an Indian launch scheduled for June.
Mercedes-Benz has developed the flexible MFA (modular front architecture) platform for such volume cars. The company has already used these platforms on the latest generation A-Class and B-Class compacts (pictured below). The BMW X1 is a rear-wheel drive layout while the Audi Q3 and Mercedes GLA will use a front-wheel drive layout. Audi plans to offer its famous Quattro all-wheel drive system on the Q3 initially and Mercedes-Benz also plans to offer an AWD system on the GLA. If the above rendering is anything to go by, Mercedes-Benz will have its hands full in delivering the GLA to customers, because the vehicle looks smashing from all angles. Factor in the love it or hate it looks of the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz has an immediate advantage of having a more pleasing design.
There will be hybrid and electric variants of the Mercedes GLA, but these powertrains are not relevant for the Indian market. Based largely on the B-Class underpinnings, the GLA will ride 20 mm higher than the B-Class. The Mercedes GLA will be offered in GLA250 CDI trim, which produces 204 BHP of power. The same engine is already powering the C-Class and E-Class in India. A petrol engine will be offered too but its not confirmed which one. All the engines will be mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes is setting up an assembly line at Chakan to locally assemble the GLA compact and is investing Rs. 350 crore for the same. Expect the GLA to be priced around Rs. 25 lakhs, sitting right above the B-Class.
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Rendering Source – Autocar UK