Mercedes-Benz says it is venturing into new territory by adding an especially small crossover SUV for the U.S.

The model will be known as the GLA when it comes to American showrooms in the fall of 2014 as a 2015 model. It is the smallest of five classes of SUVs that Mercedes fields in the U.S.

"GLA rounds off the extensive SUV portfolio of Mercedes-Benz," the automaker says.

The GLA is about five inches shorter and three inches narrower than the already tidy-size GLK. It's nevertheless about six inches longer and an inch wider than the tiny Buick Encore SUV.

The size is meant to suit crowded cities, but M-B says it'll handle off-roading, too.

The vehicle gets its first public showing in September, at the big auto show in Frankfurt, Germany.

It will be powered by a 2-liter, four cylinder, gasoline engine rated 208 horsepower, 258 pounds-feet of torque. That's good for the engine's size, but is a mouse compared to most car engines from Mercedes.

Mated to a seven-speed automatic and two-wheel drive or full-time all-wheel drive, the setup will dash to 60 mph form standstill in a brisk 6.4 seconds, M-B says, and has a top speed of 145 mph.

No pricing yet and no word on whether the GLA will offer a diesel.

Mercedes has been moving in the small-car direction. The GLA joins the CLA sedan at the small end of the maker's lineup.

Other premium brands are doing likewise. BMW recently added the small X1 SUV to its lineup. Acura adopted a version of the Honda Civic, called ILX, to give it a small, entry sedan.

Read or Share this story: