2021 Mercedes GLA 250 and AMG GLA 35 promise punchy compact SUVs

Mercedes is adding an entry-level SUV to the range, the 2021 GLA 250, and Mercedes-AMG is getting in on the action with a punched-up version that could well be the modern-day hot hatch. A compact SUV, the GLA packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine along with the cabin technology that we've been so impressed by in the A-Class Sedan.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

Wading into the competitive and popular small SUV market, the new GLA 250 will be offered in front-wheel drive and 4MATIC all-wheel versions. Either way there's 221 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and an 8-speed dual clutch transmission. Mercedes say to expect an 8.6 second 0-60 mph time, along with an electronically-limited top speed of 130 mph.

Fuel economy figures will be released closer to launch, making it easier to compare with the 2021 GLA's natural competitors, the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. What we do know is that there's a new design borrowing cues from Mercedes' larger SUVs.

Inside, there's a bigger cabin than the outgoing model boasted, along with more tech. The 7-inch center display is now a touchscreen, and there's "Hey Mercedes" voice control for the MBUX infotainment system. The leather-wrapped steering wheel gets touch control buttons too, and there's a trackpad in the center console.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as is a 7-inch digital instrumentation cluster. 8-way power driver and passenger seats with memory are standard, while the rear seats get 7-stages of recline and forward/backward adjustment. 18-inch wheels are standard, as is keyless start, dual-zone climate control, a power liftgate, and LED lighting front and rear.

The 2021 Mercedes GLA 250 4MATIC will come with the Off-Road Engineering Package as standard. That adds an Off-Road drive program for rougher terrain, along with a hill-start assistance program.

Options include larger, 10.25-inch displays, navigation, parking assistance, multi-contour seats, a Burmester audio system, and wireless phone charging. You can also have heated/cooled seats, adaptive damping suspension, a heated steering wheel, head-up display, and a panoramic sliding sunroof.

On the driver-assistance features, the optional package includes adaptive cruise control with route-based adaption, active steering assistance, and active blind spot assistance.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35

Blending compact SUV and hot hatch, the 2021 AMG GLA 35 rounds out the tuner's 35-Series. It gets 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, and is expected to do 0-60 in 5.0 seconds. Top speed will be limited to 155 mph, and there's an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT.

Compared to the regular GLA, the AMG-fettled version will have the larger, 10.25-inch cabin displays as standard. It'll also get AMG Performance 4MATIC variable all-wheel drive, and 19-inch AMG Twin 5-Spoke wheels. There's AMG Sport Suspension as standard, too, and AMG Dynamic Select. Inside, there'll be 64-color ambient lighting.

Options will include the AMG Night Package, Sport Suspension, special sports seats, and an aero package.

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and GLA 250 4MATIC will arrive at US dealerships in Summer 2020, the automaker says. As for the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, that will follow on in late 2020. Pricing for all three models has yet to be confirmed.