Speculation that an AMG version of the new Mercedes GLA junior off-roader could be revealed this year has been given added credence by this spy picture. It is the first time that the new performance-orientated 4x4 has been snapped testing on public roads in prototype guise.

Sister car to the upcoming A45 AMG and CLA45 AMG, the GLA45 AMG is expected to run AMG’s new turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine in combination with a six-speed, dual-clutch automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive.

Official details are yet to be revealed, but the new engine, which carries the internal codename ‘M132’, is claimed to deliver 349bhp.

Together with a higher-powered engine, the GLA45 AMG also receives a heavily reworked chassis. If this particular prototype is any indication, the ride height will be reduced by up to 25mm over standard GLA models, lowering the centre of gravity.

The new model is set to square off against the upcoming Audi Q3 RS, which is powered by a 350bhp turbocharged 2.5-litre, five-cylinder petrol engine.

The GLA45 AMG is expected to get an airing at the Frankfurt motor show in September — five months after the standard GLA makes its debut at the Shanghai show.

Thanks to: Autocar