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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG revealed

The GLA45 AMG will go on sales in overseas markets in the second half of this year.

Mercedes-Benz has revealed the smallest of its high-performance AMG-tweaked SUVs, the GLA45 AMG ahead of its global unveiling next week at Detroit motor show to be pitched into head-to-head battle with the Porsche Macan and Audi RSQ3.

The GLA45 is based on the GLA-Class crossover, but the boffins at Merc's AMG tuning division have crawled all over the vehicle, starting with slinging it lower on stiffer suspension -- firmer front knuckles and springs and all-new rear four-link setup -- and an optional even harder one if that's your fancy.

Looking more like a beefier brother to the A45 AMG hardcore hatchback, the aggressive-looking baby SUV gets an aerodynamic body kit with a front splitter, side sills and rear roof spoiler, and you can arm it further with optional carbon-fibre additions to the bodykit and side mirrors -- plus AMG-badged red brake calipers.

The cabin gets sports seats with leather or Alcantara options, Nappa leather steering wheel with F1-style shift paddles and splashes of aluminium and stainless-steel accents -- which can be dressed with more carbon-fibre and high-performance seats.

The GLA45 AMG carries the A45 and CLA45 AMG's handbuilt 2.0-litre with twin-scroll turbocharger and forged pistons -- as Merc points out, the most powerful four-cylinder in production -- developing 265kW of power and 450Nm of torque, and delivering a 0-100km/h time of 4.8 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 250km/h. The seven-speed dual-clutch transmission delivers the drive entirely to the front wheels in normal conditions, and to all four wheels when needed, splitting it 50:50.

The electronic stability program is switchable to a Sport mode, or completely off, and includes a torque-vectoring system that applies tiny amounts of braking on the rear inside wheel in corners to aid handling. The wheels are 19-inch alloys finished in titanium grey, but these can be optioned up to matte black 20-inchers, with ventilated disks for either choice.

The GLA45 AMG will go on sales in overseas markets in the second half of this year, but a launch has not yet been confirmed for Australia. However with the luxury brand clearly keeping an eye on the growing segment, we're hoping a business case will be easy.

"The response to the Concept GLA 45 AMG during the world première at the Los Angeles International Auto Show has reaffirmed our decision to launch this new AMG model. Currently there is no segment growing faster than that of compact SUVs," Tobias Moers, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes, says in the press statement