The GLB will ride on the CLA's front-wheel drive platform.

Mercedes-Benz has fast-tracked the development of a compact crossover inspired by the venerable G-Class, according to insiders familiar with the project.The model is named GLB, and it's known as the X247 internally. Industry rumors indicate it's based on the modular front-wheel drive platform that underpins every compact Mercedes including the A, the B, the CLA, and the GLA.

Visually, the GLB will eschew Mercedes' corporate design language and instead get a more rugged look that shares a few styling cues with the G. Tipsters who have seen the crossover in the metal told British magazine Autocar that it's like a toned-down version of the Energ-G Force concept (pictured) shown during the 2014 edition of the Los Angeles Auto Show.

GLB customers will have several options to choose from. Notably, in many markets, it will be available with a short wheelbase and five seats, or with a long wheelbase and room for up to seven passengers.

An appearance package that brings rugged-looking styling cues such as plastic cladding -- and maybe even a rear-mounted spare tire -- as well as few additional inches of ground clearance will also be available. Finally, it's reasonable to assume an AMG-tuned model powered by the CLA 45's turbo four will join the lineup a few months into the production run.

When it lands late next year, the Mercedes-Benz GLB will slot above the GLA in order to take on the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1. Pricing will start in the vicinity of $35,000, a figure that will allow it to fill the space that separates the GLA and the GLC.