Mercedes has launched the GLA in Brazil with imported cars. Local production, with flexfuel engine, starts in 2016. Red wall tyres arent standard; thats dust from the press-drive roads

Mercedes has launched the GLA in Brazil with imported cars. Local production, with flexfuel engine, starts in 2016. Red wall tyres aren't standard; that's dust from the press-drive roads

Mercedes-Benz has launched the GLA in Brazil. Sales start in October and the car will be made locally from 2016 at Daimler's new plant in Iracemápolis, São Paulo state.

This compact SUV compact has styling to distinguish it from rival models, a high standard of finish, an excellent powertrain and the brand cachet signalled by the three-pointed star in the centre of the grille.

The drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.31 is surprisingly low for the class. To curb wind noise, engineers paid special attention to to door sealing and the tailgate and roof seams, as well as the method used to attach the exterior mirrors to the doors.

The Brazilian GLA goes on sale with a turbocharged, 1.6-litre/97.6 cu in/154 bhp petrol engine with seven-speed, double-clutch, automated gearbox. The locally made version will get a petrol/ethanol flex-fuel engine but the automaker is not yet confirming that to avoid affecting sales of the initial, imported model.

The driver’s seat is power adjustable (with three memory settings) including lumbar support. The standard three-spoke steering wheel has 12 switches, chrome finish and transmission paddle shifters.

A hold function means you don't need to keep a foot on the brake pedal when stopping at the traffic lights. Accelerate, even just to creep forward slowly, and the brakes are automatically released. Hill start assist is also standard.

The top two trim levels have a multimedia system with seven inch screen and features include GPS navigation and internet access via Bluetooth wireless connection. These versions also have a a self-parking system for both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. 

One surprise is manual air conditioning on all but the top version which has two-zone automatic climate control. ACC is standard much lower down the ranges offered by more affordable brands.

The top version also gets a sunroof and unique 18-in wheels.

Prices range from BRL132,900/US$31,500 to BRL152,900/$64,500.