Excluding the military-derived G-Class that dates back to the late 1970s, Mercedes’ first true SUV came out in 1997 with the launch of the M-Class. During the 22 years that have passed since then, the company’s high-riding portfolio has blossomed to include a plethora of models of all shapes and sizes to fill just about every segment and niche. The smallest of them all, the GLA, has been a veritable cash cow for Daimler, which is why there’s a lot riding on the second generation to build upon the success of the original.

Still bathed in camouflage, the new GLA has been spotted undergoing final testing while carrying what appears to be the full production body. The first sensation we’re getting is of a jacked-up A-Class, which probably isn’t too far from the truth since the GLA is essentially a crossover variant of the compact hatchback. The chunky wheel arches and the higher ground clearance denote it’s a car a bit more competent to tackle difficult terrain, although we’re pretty sure very few GLAs have been driven off the beaten path.

Mercedes went to the trouble of masking the dashboard as well, although we have a feeling it was a futile effort seeing as how the GLA is unlikely to stray away too far from the other compact cars carrying the three-pointed star. Considering models like the A-Class hatchback/sedan, GLB or the CLAs have essentially the same interior, our logical tells us the new GLA will follow the same high-tech recipe that has also been applied to the B-Class minivan we hardly get to speak about.

Slightly larger than the model it’s about to replace, the next-gen GLA will inherit nearly all of the oily bits from its A-Class sibling, all the way up to the AMG 35, 45, and 45 S derivatives with as much as 416 horsepower. Only time will tell whether that GLA Coupe seen on an older Mercedes-Benz product roadmap will ever come to life, but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

As for a new Infiniti QX30 based on the GLA, it's not going to happen.

Photos: Automedia

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