German luxury carmaker Mercedes Benz on Tuesday launched its most affordable sports utility vehicle, the GLA class, at a starting price of Rs. 32.75 lakh, filling a big gap in its product portfolio.
The GLA comes in three variants and competes with the likes of Audi Q3 and BMW X1, which have been in the market for longer and cost considerably less. The GLA is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol and a 2.2 diesel engine. The top two versions are priced at Rs. 36 lakh for petrol and Rs. 36.9 lakh for diesel.
While the X1 has seen sales peter out in recent times, the Q3 is believed to be one of the largest selling cars in the luxury market. Mercedes claims it has got 600 bookings in 18 days for the GLA, and the car is sold out for at least the next month.
“This is the eighth launch for this year and probably the most important one as the SUV segment is fast growing in India. This could be the volume driver for us,” said Eberhard Kern, MD and CEO, Mercedes Benz India. “Currently the entry level SUV we have is the ML250 which is priced around Rs. 55 lakh. The GLA allows us to tap the huge segment below that price point.”
After losing its leadership in 2010 to BMW, Mercedes is on a comeback trail. In 2013, it beat BMW to the number 2 slot while Audi remained at the top. In the first 6 months this year, its sales have grown 25% and it is fighting a close battle with Audi for top slot.