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by Adam Lynton
Benz gears up to challenge the BMW X1 with a more muscular take on the new A-Class.
The term "crossover" is a bit of a catch-all. Here we have spy shots of Mercedes' new crossover, but it hardly looks any taller than the A-Class hatchback it's based on. So what gives? Simple: Americans buy crossovers, but they don't buy hatchbacks. Not in any significant numbers, anyway. First spied last month from far away, the GLA has now been snapped in close priximity, giving us a closer look at what to expect from the Silver Star that will challenge the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 - another low-slung German "crossover".
Bearing a more muscular front end to the A-Class and a more coupe-like shape than the boxy GLK, the crossover is poised to package a panoramic sunroof that stretches back to the C-pillar and either front- or four-wheel drive. Powerplants and transmissions will likely be carried over from the A- and B-Class models, so expect four-cylinder engines burning either gasoline or diesel. Expect the GLA to hit European showrooms in 2014, followed shortly after by a CLA four-door coupe and SLA roadster. Which of these models will be offered Stateside remains to be seen, but our money's on the crossover seen here, the four-door coupe and possibly the roadster.