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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA
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The first-ever GLB isn’t the only new compact SUV from Mercedes to debut this year as a new report indicates we’ll also get to see the second-generation GLA. While the boxy model previewed last month by a namesake concept at Auto Shanghai in China will be revealed in production form sometime this summer, the most affordable SUV from Daimler is expected to make an appearance this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Sitting at the bottom of Mercedes-Benz's SUV hierarchy, the diminutive GLA-class brings style and luxury in a compact package—and it's all-new for 2021. Under the hood is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic; all-wheel drive is optional, but isn't likely to make the GLA-class ready to tackle the Rubicon. A tuned-up AMG version (reviewed separately) will more readily satisfy speed freaks. Improved interior materials, new tech features, and contemporary exterior styling are all marked improvements versus the outgoing 2020 model and will bring the 2021 GLA-class in line with the rest of the modernized Mercedes lineup. If the report published by Autocar is to be believed, we might end up seeing the new GLA online a few days before its IAA premiere, some six years after the original model’s debut at the very same show. Going up against the likes of the Audi Q2 and the BMW X2, the next generation of Mercedes’ entry-level SUV should follow just about the same recipe as the current version by essentially being a jacked-up A-Class hatchback with some mild SUV touches. This time around, it won’t serve as the basis for a new Infiniti QX30 as Nissan’s premium brand has admitted the current GLA-based model is “not a very successful product,” which is why its replacement will be all-Infiniti. With all of the new-era compact Mercedes models sharing largely the same interior cabin, it should be a similar story with the second-gen GLA. Just look at the A-Class, B-Class or CLA-Class models to get an idea of what to expect from the dashboard layout, which will also have quite a lot in common with the upcoming GLB. The oily bits are pretty much known already, with a turbocharged 1.3-liter gasoline engine co-developed with the Renault-Nissan alliance to power the lesser versions of the range and a larger 2.0-liter for the higher-end models. Customers will get to pick from manual and automatic transmissions along with a choice between a front- and an all-wheel-drive layout. We don’t see a reason why there shouldn’t be both AMG 35 and AMG 45 derivatives, with 302 horsepower for the former and as much as 416 hp for the latter in the “S” flavor. However, it’s highly unlikely the Affalterbach-tuned GLAs will be available from day one as logic tells us the amped-up models will be launched in 2020. If memory serves us well, a product roadmap released by Mercedes showed a GLA Coupe earmarked for a 2017 release, along with a pickup truck. While the latter went on to become the Nissan Navara-based X-Class posh workhorse, the swoopy compact SUV is still nowhere to be found. That product roadmap was actually updated soon after emerging online, with the GLA Coupe being eliminated. Is it still planned? Your guess is as good as ours.