Production of the Mercedes-Benz GLA compact SUV - first seen at the Frankfurt motor show in September and introduced to South African Mercedes fans at the Jonhannesburg International Motor show a month later - has begun at the A-Class assembly plant in Rastatt, Germany.
It's actually the fourth in a series of five new compact models that will be built at Rastatt and, because it shares almost 70 percent of its components with the new A-Class, it can be built on the same assembly line without disturbing A-Class production, which is already working three shifts to meet the demand.
Daimler boss Dieter Zetsche said: "There is a very strong demand from our customers for SUVs and compact vehicles; the GLA allows us to combine these two segments and appeal to new customers.
"For deserts, mud and steep hills, we have the true mountain boots of off-road vehicles in the Unimog and the G-Class," he explained. "Then we have the equipment for all sorts of outdoor activities in the GL, ML and GLK. And now, we are expanding that line-up with the new GLA - the trekking shoe in the Mercedes line-up."
The GLA will be released in South Africa in April 2014, initially with the diesel variants, with the petrol models to follow towards the end of the year.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa marketing manager Selvin Govender said: "We received numerous enquiries from potential customers after our GLA premiere at the Joburg motor show, so we've opened the order book already at all Mercedes dealers in Southern Africa.
"Customers can also specify their GLA with various options and packages using our digital online vehicle configurator - and then forward their selected specifications to their local dealer, with a click of the mouse."
PRICES (including VAT but not CO2 tax)
GLA 200 - R398 800
GLA 200 CDI - R422 700
GLA 220 CDI 4Matic - R489 000
Prices include a six-year or 100 000km maintenance plan.