Mercedes GLA revealed ahead of Shanghai

* Wil make debut at Shanghai motor show * Previews production car due in 2014 * Will rival Audi Q3 and BMW X1...

Mercedes GLA revealed ahead of Shanghai

This is the new Mercedes-Benz GLA, which is getting its first public outing at the Shanghai motor show on Saturday.

Although the GLA is described as a concept car, the vehicle on display is extremely close to a final production version that will go on sale in early 2014 finally giving Mercedes a rival for the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

Prices haven't been set, but the GLA is likely to cost at least a 5000 more than the equivalent A-Class, meaning it will start at around 25,000.

As with the eventual production car, the Mercedes Concept GLA is built on the same set of parts as the A-Class hatchback and CLA saloon. The show car is powered by a 208bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, going through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and a four-wheel-drive transmission.

Final production versions are likely to offer the same engine line-up and transmission options as the A-Class, though, so expect both diesel and manual options. A hot version based on the four-wheel-drive A45 AMG is expected, but its also likely that entry-level GLA models will be offered with just front-wheel drive.

Inside, the GLA Concept is more flamboyantly styled and trimmed than the production car will be, but the basic dashboard layout (also shared with the A-Class) will remain. Its unclear whether the final car will also have the option of the two individual rear seats of the show car, but a three-seat bench is more likely to be standard layout.

Other concept car flourishes unlikely to make production include air vents that change colour according to cabin temperature and 'laser' headlights that can project pictures or films onto a screen or other flat surface.

By Chas Hallett