After months of speculation, Mercedes-Benz have finally revealed their plans to develop an A-Class-based SUV. The announcement was made by Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche whilst at a press conference in Rastatt, for the all-new 2012 A-Class hatchback.
“This start of production marks a further milestone in our Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy. The A-Class represents our offensive in the compact segment,” said Zetsche. “And there is more to come: The compact SUV will be the third model we will build here in Rastatt.”
Since the A-Class went on sale last June, Mercedes-Benz have received more than 40,000 orders and delivered over 70,000 B-Class vehicles since its launch in November 2011. “Demand for our premium compact cars is so strong that we are going to introduce a third assembly shift in October 2012” Peter Wesp, Head of the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant.
It is believed the new A-Class SUV will share a four-cylinder engine lineup with the hatchback model and be named the GLA. The ‘G’ will denote SUV and the ‘A’ will represent the A-Class range. Power options for the model will be spread across three diesel and three petrol engines. The GLA45 will top the range with a twin-turbocharged 2.2-litre, which will give out 350hp and 332-lb-ft of torque.
By releasing this new model, Mercedes-Benz are showing clear intent to dominate the premium compact crossover segment, with its main competition coming from the ever popular BMW X1 and Audi Q3. The GLA is expected to mirror the proportions of the BMW, however be more spacious than the Audi.
As of yet the Rastatt plant in Germany have not confirmed a production release date for the GLA. However it is more than likely to go on sale for the 2015 model year.