When the professional PR-team Mercedes-Benz Belux showed it’s a compact range at the Château Neercanne at Maastricht, I also brought along the GLA concept car. The car looks stunningly good from any angle, and we were very impressed by the level of finish and the choice of colours and materials. Needless to say we pointed our Fujinon lens to the car, and took some shots as best as we could given the light circumstances, and we hope you enjoy it with us...
Hans Knol ten Bensel
When we saw the gleaming truck from Mercedes Benz Classic Centre on the driveway of the Château, we suspected something special was at hand. Indeed, in the presentation room of the magnificent building, where the press conference was to be held, we were thrilled to see the GLA concept car in all its gleaming glory.
The special light alloy wheels of the car really suit the car...
No small feat for the remarkeable PR-team of Mercedes-Benz Belux to bring the car here, a concept car which made its debut at the "Auto Shanghai" motor show which was held from 21 to 29 April 2013. The car was brought to Maastricht under the special care of the Mercedes Benz Classic centre.
SUV design cues creatively used…
The car looks good from any angle, and the compact overall dimensions give it a special poise. The car measures length/width/height: 4383/1978/1579 millimetres. There are a number of distinctive styling features. The bonnet sports two powerdomes, and there are so called “softcubes”, these are soft, raised pads that help to give definition to the radiator grille and are also to be found on the side sill panels and alongside the exhaust tailpipes.
The striking appearance of the car is also thanks to the special silver Alubeam paint finish.
The door handles are fully recessed, emerging at a touch of a button. The 20-inch wheels, with their distinctive five-spoke turbine design, are shod in size 255/45 R 20 tyres. These have been specifically created for the Concept GLA: their tread pattern continues the lines of the spokes in an optical illusion that makes the latter appear longer.
The magnificent presentation of the A class compact range took place in the fitting settings of Château Neercanne...
Further SUV references, such as a load sill guard and a concealing underride fascia panel, are to be found in the area of the rear bumper covering.
The interior breathes craftsmanship, quality and sporting panache…
The interior is characterised by an entertaining juxtaposition of leather and dark galvanised aluminium. The four individual seats and the door centre panels are upholstered in natural leather in a rich shade of brown.
Both colour and workmanship bring the image of a saddle to mind: all in all, the Concept GLA incorporates more than 20 metres of hand-stitched seams to hold the raw edges of the leather together.
The seat cushions, which feature central inlay panels in a high-quality canvas material, display an embossed pattern that continues the saddle theme. An illuminated insert is set into the integrated head restraint of each of the four sports seats.
Grey leather with a graphically applied grain is used on the backs of the front seats, amongst other places, and continues the idea of patterns being continued over from other surfaces.
The instrument panel is constructed in several layers. On top of a leather-upholstered surface sits a framework in a combination of matt and polished aluminium, which provides the necessary support for all the instruments. This is held in place by clearly visible screws, featuring a specially devised design. This unit is protected from dust and dirt by a plexiglas covering that is illuminated from behind, so adding to the impression that the different levels are free-floating.
The control buttons for COMAND Online have also been crafted with meticulous technical precision. They are made of plexiglas and painted from the back in black. Pictograms are then etched into the black, also from the back, before being filled in.
The air vents in the instrument panel as well as in the rear represent a further stylistic development of the vents used in the Concept A-CLASS and Concept Style Coupé, and are likewise illuminated from behind.
They change colour according to the interior temperature set by the occupants. At a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius they light up in white. If a cooler temperature is selected for the interior, they turn blue, while opting for an influx of warm air switches the illumination to red.
Fibre-optic ambient lighting in the load compartment visually extends the line drawn by the centre console all the way from the instrument panel through to the rear seats.
A rectangle of lighting strip inset into the load compartment floor serves to highlight its level surface. Luggage can be secured firmly with a spring-loaded four-point harness, as used in helicopters. A simple handle is used to fold the backrests of the rear sports seats forward to create a level load compartment floor.
Laser light: new-style headlamps project light and images
In this concept car, you can truly enjoy films: the front headlamps of the Concept GLA are each fitted with a laser-beam projector. These not only provide the light to drive by, but are also capable of projecting pictures or films onto a screen or other surface.
Camera's on the roof perform multiple functions...
Any format that can be operated through COMAND Online can serve as a source: pictures or films from a smartphone, the internet, or from a hard drive.
Alternatively, the action can be produced live.
The Concept GLA is fitted with two cameras, housed in the front roof rail. And these can be used for far more than just 3D images taken as the Concept GLA drives along: the HD cameras can be removed and, for example, fitted to a mountain bike helmet. An additional lamp unit in each camera ensures that the lighting is right, whatever the situation. As an alternative to the projection option, films may also be viewed inside the car on the COMAND Online screen.
The laser-beam projectors represent far more than simply an academic exercise on the part of the engineers and designers at Mercedes-Benz. As a further enhancement of the head-up display, they could also help to improve road safety: the technology could be used, for example, to project the directional instructions from the navigation system onto the road in the form of arrows – in this way other road users, too, would be able to see where a driver is heading.
Laser and LED technology: the headlamps
It is not only the laser-beam projectors and their visible cooling system provided by rotating vents that make the shimmering blue headlamps of the Concept GLA such an interesting feature. With the "Coming home" function, the blue light begins to pulsate to indicate that the vehicle is ready and waiting for its driver.
While the driving lights are produced here for the first time by a laser beam reflected off a mirror lens, the daytime running lamps, with their characteristic "torch" effect, as well as the indicator lights, consist of LEDs.
The indicators take the form of digital chase lighting strips and, as such, represent a further development of the "Mexican wave" design used on the Concept Style Coupé.
Last but not least: engine power…
Here we can be short, as the emphasis of this GLA is clearly on design. Under the bonnet of this new concept vehicle sits a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine rated at 155 kW (211 hp) with a displacement of 1991 cc. Its power is transmitted to the road via the
7G-DCT dual clutch automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel drive. All very proven components, which will make the GLA nevertheless a very dynamic car indeed…
Hans Knol ten Bensel