The luxury car segment in New Zealand will heat up quickly in 2014 when Mercedes-Benz lands the GLA, a compact crossover to rival the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.
Japan’s Lexus will make the segment even more competitive with the LF-NX crossover, which will be unveiled at next month’s Detroit motor show before its appearance in New Zealand around September/October.
Sales of crossover/SUVs have occupied around 27-30 per cent of monthly numbers in 2013 and will continue to grow, say industry observers.
Mercedes-Benz NZ general manager Ben Giffin is pinning luxury market leadership on the GLA, of which three variants will be available, including a lickety-split AMG version.
“The only reason Mercedes-Benz is not the number one luxury brand in New Zealand is because we don’t have a competitor for the Audi Q3 and BMW X1,” he said.
“That will change when the GLA arrives. It will change again in our favour when the GLK gets here in 2015.”
The GLK will sit between the GLA and the ML-Class range, further strengthening Giffin’s aim to dominate NZ’s luxury crossover segment.
The GLK has been available in left-hand-drive markets since 2009. It is an awkward-looking vehicle, too square-rigged and dated in design to go global. Sales haven’t been strong. Spy pictures of the new GLK show an altogether softer profile.
Benz expects the GLA to be the playmaker in the luxury compact crossover market, not only in NZ but worldwide.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Benz board and head of the car division, describes the GLA as a “trekking shoe”.
“For deserts, mud and steep hills, we have the true mountain boots of off-road vehicles in the Unimog and the G-Class,” he said.
“On top of that, we offer the right equipment for all sorts of outdoor activities with the GL, ML and GLK.
“And now, we are expanding that line-up with the GLA. It is the trekking shoe in the Mercedes SUV line-up.”
He said the GLA will cover the strong demand for SUVs and compact vehicles. “The GLA allows us to combine these two segments and appeal to new customers. It is the next milestone in our Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy.”
NZ will get three turbocharged models, each using the Benz 4Matic all-wheel-drive system: the petrol GLA250, diesel GLA200 CDI, and petrol 45 AMG. Gearboxes are seven-speeders.
The 250 uses a 2-litre four-cylinder unit delivering 155kW at 5500rpm and 350Nm between 1200-4000rpm. Benz claims town-and-around fuel use of 6.5 litres/100km (43mpg) for C02 of 151gr/km.
The 200 CDI four-pot delivers 100kW between 3400-4000rpm and 300Nm between 1400-3000rpm. Fuel use is a claimed 4.9 litres/100km (58mpg) for C02 of 129gr/km.
The 45 AMG uses a go-faster version of the 2.0-litre petrol engine that debuted in the A-Class A45 AMG at the Geneva motor show earlier this year. No official figures yet but reports say it should produce around 260kW and a 0-100km/h time of around five seconds.