Mercedes Benz is enabling more people to access its brand with smaller less expensive vehicles…
It might be winter here but it is always nice to look forward to warmer days, filled with sun and clear roads.
The GLA is built of the same platform as the hot, new CLA sedan that arrived last fall. Developing it into a taller, more practical small SUV is perfect for young families or couples that want the same underlying goodness that is in the CLA but with standard all wheel drive (AWD) and ease of use.
Pricing has not been confirmed but when it arrives this fall, expect the same aggressive pricing that the CLA delivers. That car starts at $33,900 but with AWD comes up to $36,800.
This new GLA is not as tall as the B-Class, which also shares the same platform, and not nearly as low-slung as the CLA. The GLA has a less aggressive front grille and stance, plus smaller wheel sizes compared to the high performance GLA 45 AMG version that sports 19-inch wheels compared to the base 18-inch wheels, but even the base model can get larger wheels as part of the Sport Package.
The small, more aggressive touches and the lowered suspension do make the AMG look sportier and more purposeful but the standard GLA with the optional 19-inch wheels is a head turner too.
The dash of the GLA is almost identical to both the CLA sedan and B-Class hatchback. There is a prominent screen mounted high in the centre of the dash, like an iPad application.
The rest of the dash is sporty and functional thanks to stylish jet engine inspired air vents that do a great job of directing air flow to just the right location. The centre cluster below the screen is very straightforward and easy to master.
The biggest difference between the base model and the 45 AMG are the seats. The base comes with faux leather 12-way power seats that look and feel very good. Leather is optional plus the seats are more bolstered. The AMG gets upgraded seats as standard equipment but race inspired Recaro seats are part of the Exclusive Package and look superb, thanks to aluminum accents and chunky side bolsters. Other differences include a centre-mounted shifter in the AMG, where the base 250 gets the more practical column mounted gear selector, which frees up much needed storage in the centre of the car.
Speaking of space, the back seats are much more practical compared to the CLA sedan thanks to a higher roof, bigger back windows and much better outward visibility. The cargo area isn’t huge at 1235L but the rear seats do split and fold for additional cargo capabilities.
The base GLA 250 comes with a 2.0L turbocharged direct injection 4-cylinder with a healthy 208hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, the same as the B-Class and base CLA.
There is plenty of acceleration and cruising on the highway is effortless. Driving through the mountain canyons back from Granada to Malaga was a real treat. The countryside is rustic and beautiful and the twisty roads sublime.
The base GLA never set a wheel wrong and the 7-speed duel-clutch automatic can be left in economy, sport or manual for each driving situation. All GLA models come with standard AWD and this system can detach the rear wheels and drive in FWD for better economy but switches seamlessly back when more traction or cornering capability is required, plus Dynamic Cornering Assist applies just a small amount of brake force to the inside wheel when cornering to aid in the process. The 45 AMG takes things to a completely new level. The 2.0L 4-cylinder is hand assembled and pumps out a whopping 355hp and 332 lb.-ft. of torque. The 7-speed transmission and AWD system have been adapted by AMG to deliver a go-cart like drive that is so reassuring and potent that it makes the driver look and feel fantastic.
Cornering is effortless and the bigger wheels and lowered suspension give great feedback but it is not jarring.
Mercedes Benz is enabling more people to access its brand with smaller less expensive vehicles. The new GLA 250 and GLA 45 AMG are certainly very attractive, powerful and fun vehicles to drive.
Power: 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder with 208hp or 355hp
Sticker price: N/A