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Mercedes Concept GLA Shines Laser Headlights on Shanghai

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On: Wed, Apr 24, 2013 at 11:50AM | By: Chris Weiss

Mercedes Concept GLA Shines Laser Headlights on Shanghai

Following the New York Auto Show earlier this month, the auto show season here in North America has calmed down. But that doesn't mean there aren't new concepts and car models launching around the globe. The Shanghai Auto Show got underway over the weekend, and Mercedes debuted a concept crossover at the show. It calls the GLA Concept an escape from the everyday.

Mercedes sought to blend dramatic styling with recreational functionality in designing the GLA. To reach the former, it created a unique front fascia with dual-pronged grille, a multi-lined flank, 20-inch five-spoke turbine wheels, muscular rear haunches, and a roof spoiler. The concept's recreational sportiness is realized with such touches as the underride guards and protective grille around the side mirrors. The car gets its auto-show glow from its Alumbeam finish.

"The Concept GLA marks a new approach for us in the compact SUV segment—this is a sporty and more coupé-like evolution of this category of vehicle", commented Dr Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Mercedes-Benz Cars, Sales and Marketing. "The Concept GLA is a compact SUV that combines its sporting spirit with the all-round qualities of a tough, leisure-time companion."

The best concept cars feature more than just dramatic styling and recreational ambitions; they feature cutting edge technology not yet available on the market. The GLA's claim to fame is in its laser headlamps that not only shoot illuminating beams onto the dark road ahead but are capable of projecting images and videos onto a screen or wall. The COMAND Online infotainment system can source content from a hard drive, the Internet or a smartphone and the laser lamps project it forward. That puts a truly futuristic twist on the idea of drive-in movies. Mercedes also mentions the possibility of the lasers projecting navigation directions onto the road ahead.

The GLA also includes two removable cameras built into the roof rails. In addition to providing traditional vehicle monitoring, the cameras can be taken off and used as portable camcorders or action cameras—Mercedes cites mounting them to a mountain bike helmet as an example.

The four-seat interior is defined by its brown and grey leather and dark galvanized aluminum. Each headrest has an illuminated insert to provide a signature look, and the illumination behind the air vents changes color according to cabin temperature—from cool blue to warm red. Fiber optic ambient lighting sweeps straight down the middle of the rear of the car, hooking around the load compartment to create a continuation of the elegantly lit interior. That compartment can be accessed by a push-button automatic tailgate.

The Shanghai Auto Show is now open to the public and runs until April 29.

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