After six years and more than one million units sold, the Mercedes GLA is ready to enter its second generation with some major changes over its highly successful predecessor. At a first glance, the evolutionary styling might tempt you to believe this is more of a facelift rather than a new generation but have a look inside the cabin and you’ll begin to understand the compact crossover has gone through some major changes.

For starters, the GLA’s physical dimensions have been significantly altered as the new model is 15 millimetres (0.6 inches) shorter at 4,410 mm (173.6 inches), yet the wheelbase has been elongated by 28 mm (1.1 inches) at 2,728 mm (107.4 inches). Perhaps more obvious is the change made to the vehicle’s height considering the new one stands 1,610 mm (63.4 inches) tall or 104 mm (4.1 inches) higher than before.

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz GLA (2020)

It goes without saying the revised proportions have had an impact inside the revamped cabin where rear passengers get to enjoy extra room for their elbows, shoulders, and legs, but the headroom has taken a minor hit. Those sitting in the back can adjust the 40:20:40-split-folding seats by 140 mm (5.5 inches) and the backrest can also be modified to a steeper rake to make room for more voluminous cargo. As for the driver and front passenger, they have more elbow, shoulder, and headroom, but legroom has actually decreased a bit.

The increase in height is lending the GLA that sort of appearance you’d want from a proper crossover by moving away from the jacked-up hatchback vibe the old one was sending out. The beefier presence is also accentuated by the extended tracks at both the front and rear, which have increased by 45 mm (1.8 inches) in both areas.

Gallery: Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 AMG (2020)

In regards to the oily bits, the European GLA lineup starts off with the front-wheel-drive GLA 200 model equipped with a turbocharged 1.33-litre petrol engine co-developed with Renault. It produces 161 bhp and 184 pound-feet (250 Newton-metres) of torque sent to the front axle via an seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. This setup enables the base GLA reach 62 mph (100 km/h) in 8.7 seconds and top out at 130 mph (210 km/h). It will also be offered with a diesel engine and a plug-in hybrid powertrain as already seen in the A250e hatchback and B250e minivan

Go for an all-wheel drive 4Matic model and the new GLA will come fitted as standard with an Off-Road Engineering Package encompassing an extra driving mode, downhill assist function, an off-road animation on the screen, and even a special light function for driving off-road.

Should you want something with a bit more spice, you’ll have to step up to the AMG GLA 35 model with its 302 bhp and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm) from a 2.0-litre turbo four-pot. It comes exclusively with an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox with 4Matic and does the 62 mph sprint in 5.1 seconds en route to an electronically governed 155 mph (250 km/h).

Further down the line, AMG GLA 45 and 45 S versions will follow with 382 bhp and 354 lb-ft (480 Nm) for the former and 416 bhp and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) for the latter.

A neat party trick of the GLA has been carried over from the fullsize GLS. We’re talking about the car wash function, which upon activation folds the mirrors and closes all the windows, including the sunroof. In addition, the rain sensor is temporarily deactivated so that it doesn’t trigger the windscreen wipers, while the climate control automatically switches to air-recirculation mode. If the vehicle is equipped with a 360-degree camera system, an image of the front is shown onto the screen to help the driver manoeuvre the vehicle in the car wash.

The new GLA is scheduled to arrive at European dealers next spring ahead of a summer launch in the United States.