Offering an early look at an upcoming performance version of its new GLA-Class, Mercedes-Benz used the Los Angeles Auto Show to unveil its fully engineered Concept GLA45 AMG. Seeking to reach a younger, hipper group of target buyers who require a bit more high-energy versatility than can be found in the CLA45 AMG sedan, Mercedes-AMG created this attitude-rich crossover SUV as an entry into one of today's hottest market segments. A production version is expected in showrooms sometime next year as part of what the automaker had previously indicated will be an even larger cadre of enthusiast-oriented AMG vehicles. 

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Like other products from M-B's go-faster stable, the Concept GLA45 AMG announces its intent with a comprehensive albeit tastefully understated selection of unique body bits and in the case of this one-off, a somewhat-less-subtle graphics package. Up front, the new look includes an AMG twin-blade grille insert and bigger air intakes set off by a large front splitter and air-channeling pieces done in gloss black. That shiny-noir theme continues in the Concept GLA45 AMG's custom side sills, integrated roof rails, prominent decklid spoiler and unique diffuser that houses twin rectangular exhaust outlets. Final flourishes in the mix bring matte-black 21-inch AMG forged-alloy wheels wrapped in grippy 255/35 performance tires, red accent striping and TURBO AMG badges on the front fenders. 

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Sharing its basic platform architecture with the CLA-Class sedan, the Concept GLA45 AMG packs the same firepower as its CLA45 AMG cousin. Here, too, the stunningly potent AMG 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine cranks out 355 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque which heads to a 7-speed AMG SpeedShift DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission and then on to each wheel via its AMG Performance 4Matic AWD system. Mercedes says that combo will send the Concept GLA45 AMG from 0-60 mph in less than 5.0 seconds, while AMG high-performance brakes with jaunty red calipers provide an equal measure of high-grade stopping power. 

Only two big questions remain to be answered about the production version of this trick compact crossover: How much and how soon? 

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