by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

SPY: The 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class (X 156) spotted near R&D Center in Stuttgart

In mid-2014, Mercedes-Benz will add a new contender in the compact class portfolio. The GLA-Class lifestyle crossover will join the current A-Class and B-Class as well as the upcoming CLA-Class executive four-door coupe. The X 156 project is intended as the SUV of the lineup and it will be offered in both 2WD front-driven and 4x4 4MATIC specification.

The latest scoops were snapped in Stuttgart, where the test prototype was spotted near company's R&D Center. The heavy exterior camouflage does not let many details to show up from beneath, but the general shape of the body tells us the GLA will bare much resemblance to the A-Class. In fact, given the height of the vehicle, you could easily entitle it a taller W 176.

However, some unique features will distinguish the compact SUV from its smaller sibling among which we mention: bigger headlights, with optional LED technology, a more prominent grille with two large slats, larger air intakes, a beefy front bumper, some muscular wheel arches and a more aggressively styled back end.

Inside, changes will be minor, but some inspiration from the rough style of the GLK and G-Class is expected, for a good dose of off-road authenticity. A comprehensive list of personalization features will be available for the GLA, so premium quality goes without saying. A lot of clever stuff from Merc's technology bin will be found, including the social network-optimized COMAND Online infotainment system, the Collision Prevention Assist, the DIRECT STEER advanced handling system or the complete passive safety package with up to nine airbags.

The entry-level models will get the standard MFA platform, while the high-end variants will come equipped with the 4MATIC system. Engine range will comprise efficient diesel and gasoline powerplants - from the 109 hp, 1.5-litre GLA 180 CDI up to the GLA 250 SPORT with 211 hp. A GLA 45 AMG performance version with 4x4 traction, over 400 Nm of torque and 354 hp of peak output might appear in early 2015.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class will rival the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1. The base model should stay under 30,000 euros in Germany, while the range-topping variants could go as high as 40,000 euros or even approach 50,000 euros in the case of the AMG version (if that ever gets greenlighted for serial production).

Image Credits: Motor Authority /

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