Granada (Spain) -What's a GLA exactly? The GLA-Class is the fourth model in its new line-up of compact cars all sharing the MFA platform architecture. So far, the previous MFA cars (the A-Class, B-Class and CLA-Class) have all proved to be strong sellers around the world, and in Singapore, earning the brand younger converts along the way.
It's a logical step for Mercedes, since the bulk of future car sales are expected to come from smaller, non-mainstream models like this, and the competition already have offerings such as the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Volvo V40 Cross Country. What variants will be on sale? At launch the two petrol-powered versions are the 211bhp GLA 250 along with the high-performance GLA 45 AMG (read our review of the closely-related CLA 45 AMG here). The former is slated for launch in Singapore some time later this year, possibly as early as the second quarter.
Two diesel variants, the 136bhp GLA 200 CDI and 170bhp GLA 220 CDI are available internationally, but have not been confirmed for Singapore. Mercedes-Benz's all-wheel drive system, 4MATIC, which our test car had, will likely be a cost option.
Ooh, it looks tasty... The new Mercedes-Benz design language, called ‘Sensual Purity is clear to see in the prominent grille that frames the three-pointed star and curved, browed headlights with exaggerated running light bars.
At only 4,417mm long, 1,494mm high, and 1,804mm wide, the GLA is certainly small, but the proportions of the car, and its broad lines, sit well on the MFA architecture. It’s conspicuously short for a CSUV, but this lends it an air of almost coupe-like (though this is a seriously abused term) flatness. That's in line with an aim at those who like their motoring image cool, modern, and with a little dirt thrown into the mix. Various styling packs (eg Night, AMG, Style) will also be offered to help you personalise the car further. While it's got a hot-hatch worthy 211bhp from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, it prioritises smoothness over outright sportiness. The drivetrain is strong and the car's undoubtedly quick, as acceleration on the Spanish autovia proves, while it's even quite entertaining handling-wise, especially in fast corners. As expected of a high-riding SUV, the ride quality is good. Our test unit ran on optional 19-inch wheels, which gave very slight judder - standard sizes will do even better. But it's a solid, seamless drive that leaves the playfulness to its more powerful (and more expensive) AMG brother.
Is it easy to live with? It's got five doors, 421-litres of boot space and, being a Mercedes, is likely to come with a huge fleet of amenities to make your life easier and driving safer. For instance, an auto-closing hatch back, active headlamps, navigation, blind spot assistant, and so on. Build quality is decent, and there's a huge range of options to throw cash at to make it look even nicer.
Four adults will fit easily - given they're all of average size, that is. It's still a relatively compact car, and one of the shorter cars in its class, so headroom is at a premium - those above 1.8-metres will likely scrape the roof liner.
Can it go off-road? We tested the car on a short dirt course and it proved able to handle a little beating off the beaten path, though you shouldn't attempt anything serious, like fording, in it. Still, this matters little, since the vast majority of SUV owners never leave the tarmac, and we guess even fewer GLA customers will either. With the new GLA, it's all about rocking the right look in the urban jungle.
For the full review of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC on and off-road, plus a drive in the bonkers GLA 45 AMG, pick up a copy of CarBuyer #220, which goes on sale in March.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC
NEED TO KNOW
Engine 1,991cc, 16V, turbocharged inline 4
Power 211bhp at 5,500rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1,200-4,000rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 230km/h
0-100kmh 7.1 seconds
Fuel efficiency 6.6L/100km
Also Consider: Audi Q3, BMW X1, Mini Countryman, Volvo V40 Cross Country