Matt Greenop on motoring

Matt Greenop is editor of Driven magazine

Matt Greenop: Whole new world of compact SUVs

The Mercedes GLA45 AMG was debuted at the Detroit Auto Show. Photo / Supplied
The Mercedes GLA45 AMG was debuted at the Detroit Auto Show. Photo / Supplied

The compact SUV, as we're all well aware, has become a vital serving of bread and butter for car companies.

It's replacing the humble hatchback as, at the risk of getting slapped by my esteemed assistant editor, the mum's car of choice. But the difficulty for those compact crossovers at the luxury end of the market is finding a point of difference.

Bells, whistles and flashy accoutrements are vital to convince the wealthier buyers to take the plunge.

Mercedes-Benz may have cracked this deluxe puzzle with its stunning wee GLA that launched on the south coast of Spain this week.

The enigmatic stretched hatch very capably straddles the fence between family wagon and off-roader without being dumbed down with compromise. It's going after the small SUVs from its German counterparts, and this is going to create a very interesting scrap as buyers pick out which of the three suits their needs.

Deadlines are a bit tight to get you all the goods on the new GLA next week - I'm actually writing this in the passenger seat of the demented AMG-tuned GLA 45 on the way to a briefing by German engineers on the car's underpinnings. Ve vill, I'm assured, be impressed.

The car itself has already proved impressive, with lines closer to the road than the SUVs we're already familiar with. This would usually indicate lack of off-road prowess, but a button push picks it up off the ground and lets it get its feet dirty.

The diesel and nutbar AMG versions that we'll see in New Zealand soon were pleasantly surprising and could mark a whole new direction in the SUV compact offerings. We'll be telling you all about it next weekend.

What would you like to see in the compact crossover world? Let us know here or on Facebook at

- NZ Herald

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