We knew that it was coming, but now we have confirmation – Mercedes-Benz will launch a compact crossover based on the A-Class to compete with the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
The confirmation comes along with the announcement of the start of production for the all-new 2012 A-Class hatchback (pictured here). Mercedes listed the three new front-wheel drive models that will be built at its Rastatt, Germany plant: the A- and B-Classes – both now in production – and the new compact SUV. All three cars share the same Mercedes Front Architecture front-wheel drive platform, which will also be found under the upcoming CLA-Class four-door coupe and a yet-to-be-named Infiniti compact.
Mercedes declined to comment further about the new crossover, but we've already reported extensively on what to expect for the new small SUV. Thanks to the brand's new naming scheme, look for this model to wear the GLA badge – G to denote SUV and A to denote the A-Class range. While primarily front-wheel drive, the GLA will also offer all-wheel drive. Power options will be spread across three gas and three diesel engines rated anywhere from 109 hp to 211 hp. Topping the range will be the high-performance GLA45 that uses a twin-turbocharged 2.2-liter I-4 good for 350 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque.
With its 174.8-inch length, expect the GLA to almost mirror the proportions of BMW's X1 crossover and be slightly roomier than Audi's Q3. The design is expected to clean and almost-coupe-like with an upright grille with dual crossbars, LED headlights, and taillights with triple-chamber graphics like the 2013 GLK.
No word yet on when the GLA will begin production at the Rastatt plant, but expect to see the baby Benz SUV to go on sale for the 2015 model year.