Mercedes-Benz’s second-generation GLA entry-level crossover is getting a beefier engine, roomier interior and a tech upgrade to serve as a conquest vehicle in its growing segment.
The 2021 GLA 250 will arrive in U.S. stores in summer 2020, followed by a Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 variant late next year. Pricing was not disclosed.
The new GLA debuted in an online event Wednesday as U.S. sales of compact premium crossovers have chalked up a 7.6 percent climb so far this year, making them one of the fastest-growing light-truck segments.
The GLA nameplate, the sporty alternative to the practical GLB, illustrates how Mercedes-Benz has been attracting its next generation of customers. The GLA targets millennials before they have a family, said Sam Fiorani, vice president at AutoForecast Solutions.
“Where their parents would have purchased a coupe, today’s aspiring professionals look to stylish utilities before moving up to the bigger models when their own kids arrive,” Fiorani said.
The 2021 GLA 250 is powered by a new 2-liter inline-four turbocharged engine that boosts output while lowering emissions. The updated engine delivers 221 hp, an increase of 13 hp compared with its predecessor. The GLA has a top speed of 130 mph and can go from 0 to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds.
A higher-performance AMG derivative delivers 302 hp and can go from 0 to 60 mph in five seconds.
The latest GLA provides more interior space than the first generation for hauling people and their weekend bags. It is 4.1 inches higher than its predecessor, but 0.6 inch shorter in length, offering more headroom in the front and more legroom in the rear.
Design changes include an upright front section, short overhangs at the front and rear, and protective cladding.
The dashboard is anchored by a free-standing display unit, available with either two 7-inch displays or two 10.25-inch displays.
The GLA, like the brand’s newer models, features the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, infotainment system.
The model also offers a suite of driver-assistance systems, including active steering assist, active lane-keeping assist and active blind-spot assist.
The GLA, built-in Rastatt, Germany, and Hambach, France, competes with the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.
Mercedes has sold more than 1 million GLAs globally since the model debuted in 2014. This year, through November, the automaker sold 20,041 of them in the U.S.