Did you like theMercedes GLA but think it was a little bit on the cramped side? Mercedes has news for you: the new one is going up the world…
This is the second generation Mercedes GLA, a new version of the three-pointed star’s million-selling entry level SUV. It’s a full 100mm (4 inches) taller than before, with matching higher seating positions and more head and legroom back and front, even though it’s half an inch shorter in overall length.
The rear seats slide fore and aft, recline and fold flat, and with them all the way back you can enjoy 116mm more rear legroom than you could in the old GLA. Other internal dimensions are increased by amounts that suggest anyone used to squeezing into the old model will find an immediate and marked difference. There’s even a height-adjustable boot floor and wider opening for luggage.
The new car has a longer wheelbase, shorter overhangs and 46mm (two inches almost) wider tracks front and rear, all in keeping with the vehicle architecture of the latest generation A-Class, and not much at all to do with the 2014 original.
Out goes the hydraulic clutch and in comes electro-mechanical torque distribution, along with all Merc’s latest driver-assist functions. In the cabin, out go dials and in comes the acclaimed digital dashboard with the Hey Mercedes user interface and optional widescreen display.
The GLA is the last of the A-Class family to get these wide-ranging upgrades and its arrival completes what is now an eight-member family. Quite a makeover then and all very useful, but whatever happened to the GLA as a sporty crossover?
The main emphasis with this new model seems to be far more on added utility, something that shows in the new design which at first sight replaces the squat purposefulness of the old one with a more generic high-riding hatchback vibe. Given the new-gen A-Class has already spawned the boxy, practical GLB, that is something of a surprise.
Mercedes maintains the new GLA is still very much the sporty if “more lifestyle-oriented” SUV of the A-Class range, and true enough you don’t have to look far to find the evidence for that. The best place to start is under the bonnet of the best one where a 2.0-litre turbo four-pot motor sends 306PS (302bhp) to all four wheels, via a Race Start mode if you wish, knocking off 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds.
The name of this GLA will already be familiar from the similar other variants in the A-class family: the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4Matic. As well as the poky engine you get the AMG eight-speed Speedshift DCT dual-clutch transmission, optional adaptive damping and an AMG styling and interior makeover with AMG specific exhaust (noisy), wheels (up to 21-inches, incredibly) and AMG tuned suspension, brakes and steering. As other As with this same mechanical profile have shown, it’ll be a sporty drive for sure.
The only other new variant Mercedes has so far talked about is the cooking one: the GLA 200, with 1.33-litre four-cylinder engine boasting 161bhp, front-wheel-drive, an automatic transmission and 0-62mph in 8.7 seconds. Lots more models are sure to follow, all four-cylinders with either petrol or diesel power.
There’s little question the AMG version looks the best. Signature AMG elements include the radiator grille, chrome splitter and inlet louvres, twin-spoke wheels, a roof spoiler, diffuser and twin round tailpipes. But with bonnet “powerdomes” and all the latest and impressively expensive looking Mercedes detailing, any version will surely seamlessly fit into Mercedes showrooms. Some of the GLA’s character may have been lost in this transformation but aerodynamic efficiency benefits: the Cd is an impressive 0.28.
All versions get protective cladding and pretend bash plates front and rear. No, it’s not really an off-roader and never has been, but with slightly more ground clearance than the outgoing version it should cope with unmade roads with ease.
4Matic all-wheel drive versions offer variable torque distribution, with an off-road mode that locks the torque split 50-50 front-rear. 4Matic cars also come with an Off-Road Engineering Package of hill descent control (Downhill Speed Regulation, DSR, in Merc-speak), an off-road animation in the media display and, in combination with Multibeam LED headlamps, a special headlight function for off-road night driving.
Oh, and if you do get your GLA dirty in off-road driving there’s the special car wash button, a feature first seen on the GLS. Just one push and the car automatically readies itself for the hardest challenge of all… Into the car wash!
The new Mercedes GLA will go on sale in the spring, with prices to be confirmed.