By Breda Corrigan
The original Mercedes-Benz GLA compact SUV was launched in 2014 in response to growing demand for a sporty, lifestyle-oriented SUV that had a similar footprint to a compact family hatchback. The GLA went on to become a huge worldwide success for the premium German brand, and underwent a mid-life facelift in 2017.
A New Dimension;
The all-new, second-generation GLA is now here, and brings with it added character, added space and added safety. The new design on the GLA is not only sportier, but also brings a higher and broader appearance. Key characteristics of the new GLA include the dominant shoulders of the bodywork and the coupé-like lines of the side windows. This contoured side profile gives the car it’s vigorously stylish look and offers an interesting play of light and shadows. In appearance, the new GLA has a self-assured and dynamic exterior with short overhangs front and rear. As in their other SUVs, its single louvre radiator grille and central positioned star give it an unmistakable Mercedes-Benz appearance.
The new GLA is more than 100mm taller than the car it replaces, as designers have given it added interior headroom for the driver and front passenger, and considerably greater rear legroom for back seat passengers. Track width has been increased by four centimetres while ground clearance has been raised, albeit marginally. Boot volume has been increased to a generous 495-litres, helped by rear seats that can slide by up to 140mm. There’s a variable-height boot floor as standard and the option to fit adjustable rear seating (in terms of backrest angle and sliding them fore and aft), while split-fold rear seat backs are standard for extra practicality. Other design features include details carried over from the larger 7-seat GLB and the GLC. With a contemporary interior design the GLA provides an instrument panel, available in 3 variant sizes. The round ventilation outlets, five of them in all, feature a high-quality transformer look with precisely designed air guidance vanes. The door centre panel flows seamlessly over into the armrest., while the grab and assist handle has a tubular profile and runs horizontally like a railing.
Big on Safety & Technology;
Also included as standard in the new GLA is the intuitively operated MBUX infotainment system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). MBUX can be individually configured with the aid of a range of options. The powerful computer, brilliant screens and graphics, customisable presentation, full-colour head-up display, navigation with augmented reality, learning software, and voice control activated with the prompt “Hey Mercedes” are the key advantages of the system. Mercedes-Benz engineers have gone big on safety technology for the GLA too, with various standard and optional sub-systems including Active Distance Assist Distronic, Active Steer Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Land Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist, Pre-Safe Plus and more. One intriguing feature of the new GLA is a ‘car wash function’ whereby, with a single command, exterior mirrors fold inwards, side windows and sliding roof close, the rain sensor is suppressed and other settings disabled – all of which can be automatically deactivated when the driver exits the carwash.
Trim & Engine Options;
The new GLA is available here in a choice of two design lines – Progressive and a high-performance AMG version, while a myriad of optional pack and individual extras can be specified for ultimate personalisation. A hugely-impressive level of safety, comfort, convenience and infotainment features come as standard across the range, thereby enhancing the premium look and feel of the GLA. Powertrains in the new GLA comprise of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines which were completely modernised for the new edition of the compact model series. In comparison to the previous generation, they are characterised by significantly increased specific outputs and by improved efficiency and emissions. Engines options consist of four petrol and three diesel versions. Petrol models are a 1.3-litre, 136bhp (GLA 180), 1.3-litre, 163bhp (GLA 200), a 2-litre, 224bhp (GLA 250) and GLA 250 4MATIC All-Wheel-Drive. A fully-fledged Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4MATIC with a whopping 306bhp is also available. Diesel versions consist of a 116bhp (GLA 180d), a 150bhp (GLA 200d), a GLA 200d 4-MATIC with 150bhp, a 190bhp (GLA 220d) and GLA 220d 4MATIC. While the GLA 180d is powered by a 1.5-litre turbo-diesel engine, all other diesel variants have a capacity of 1950cc. In the pipeline is a plug-in petrol-electric variant (PHEV). All models in the new GLA range come with a slick-shifting automatic transmission as standard.
My test car was a new GLA 200d AMG Line and was finished in elegant Mountain Grey metallic paint for maximum visual impact. The AMG Line pack adds a dynamic sporty look to the GLA and consists of 19” AMG twin spoke alloy wheels, AMG chrome-plated waistline and window line strips, AMG brushed stainless steel sports pedals with black rubber studs, AMG floor mats, AMG diamond radiator grille with chrome pins, AMG multi-function steering wheel in Nappa leather, AMG front apron with front splitter in chrome, and an AMG rear apron in a diffuser look with trim element in chrome. Producing 150bhp and a hefty 320Nm of torque, the GLA 200d can sprint from 0-100km/h in just 8.6-seconds, on its way to a top speed of 208km/h (where permitted). Combined fuel consumption as low as 4.6l/100km is achieveable, while annual road tax is just €270. On the road, the GLA handles superbly, with a well controlled ride quality, sharp steering, strong acceleration and excellent overall driving dynamics. The interior of the new GLA feels truly special, with high quality luxurious materials used throughout the cabin, while it is extremely easy to get comfortable behind the wheel due to the availability of multiple steering wheel and driver seat adjustments.
Verdict & Pricing;
Overall, the new GLA is a huge leap forward from its predecessor in every crucial area, it is very well equipped, classy, comfortable and is an utterly desirable compact SUV that can wear its Mercedes-Benz badge with pride. Pricing for the new GLA starts at €40,285 and is on sale now.
1) 2nd Generation Compact SUV
2) Standard Automatic Transmission
3) Impressive Specification
4) Latest Engine Technology
5) Priced From €40,285