SUV craze is at its peak and the fixation to this body type is seen across all segments. While most manufacturers already have a SUV in their portfolio, others are scurrying to develop one at the earliest. Blame it on our roads or the fact that sitting higher up gives you the kick, whatever the case, this body type is seeing far more success than anyone had imagined. Coming to the luxury segment, SUV sales have seen a sharp rise during the recent past. The Mercedes-Benz’ SUV lineup comprising of the GL and ML contributes to nearly 25% of the company’s total sales in India. With this backdrop Mercedes-Benz is all set to launch the all new GLA-Class, which will not only be the starting point in the Stuttgart based manufacturer’s SUV ranks but will also give much needed competition to Audi’s Q3 and BMW’s X1. Get Ex Showroom Price of Benz GLA
It was Mercedes-Benz who introduced the concept of ‘Compact Luxury’ to India with the A-Class at a time when many pundits believed India was not ready for this segment. The success of the A-Class encouraged others to follow suit and BMW came up with the 1-Series while folks from Ingolstadt recently launched the A3. The GLA is based on the same platform as the A-Class (MFA Platform) and is a front-wheel drive vehicle. We drive the GLA around the picturesque roads of Himachal and find out if it cuts the mustard.
EXTERIOR AND LOOKS ;
The first thing that catches the eye is the new headlamp design, which features a new LED strip that extends from the upper outer corner toward the lower inner extremity. Called LED High Performance, the new headlamps are optional on the GLA250, replacing the previously available bi-xenon headlamps. Mercedes says that these headlamps are characterized by a color temperature similar to daylight and “relieve the strain on the eyes when driving at night.” Their energy consumption is also lower, at around 60 percent less than xenon and 70 percent less than halogen. Get deals on Benz GLA
The grille is also new, sporting horizontal slats finished in black. This grille is offered on the more expensive trims as standard and optional on the base model, but it’s pretty cool and gives the small crossover a more rugged, SUV-like stance.”The GLA gained styling cues from the A-Class and elements from larger Mercedes crossovers.” More significant changes can be seen in the bumper, starting with the new foglamps that replaced the previous side grilles. The main intake is also larger, while the lower bumper also seems to have borrowed the more utilitarian cues of the larger Mercedes-Benz crossovers.
Moving onto the sides, we can see new wheel designs, while the rear fascia received slightly revised taillights and bumper. A new color, Canyon Beige, was added to the palette. The optional Night Package adds 19-inch AMG wheels and black window trim, exterior mirrors, roof rails, and exhaust tips, as well as sportier exterior accents.
All told, the revised GLA gained styling cues from the car it is based on, the A-Class hatchback, as well as elements from larger crossovers for a more SUV-like appearance.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
Just like the exterior, the changes to the inside are minimal. There are now two new trim options – sail-patterned trim on the Sports edition and black matrix trim on the Style edition. The instrument panel is new with an 11.6 cm colour multifunction display and has a concentric circle meter design with neat red needles. The new GLA also has an ambient lighting system with 12 selectable colours. The rest remain from the earlier car and the GLA is fairly well equipped with bits like a large panoramic sunroof, attention assist, powered tailgate, powered front seats with memory and an 8-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Curiously, however, it makes do with a manual AC system only. Another odd bit is a reverse camera system but with no audio warnings.
Seating is comfortable and what’s nice is the small extendable underthigh support on both front seats. Space, on the whole, isn’t very large by the standards of its competitors, headroom and rear legroom is just sufficient for my five-foot-eight frame and what adds to the hemmed-in feeling is the narrow all-round glass house. In fact, you will notice the slightly restricted view out at the front thanks to the short height of the windshield. Beige interiors and a large sunroof on our car did alleviate this to an exte
ENGINE AND PERFORMANCE ;
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA will continue to offer the same powertrains. However there will be slight performance updates to them. The petrol version will have a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit. This will make a healthy 185bhp of power and 300Nm of torque. The diesel will come with a 2.1-litre unit that will have 140bhp of power and 310Nm of torque.
The 2017 GLA 45 AMG will be powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. This will produce 340bhp of power and 480Nm of torque. This high-powered version will continue to be a thrill to drive and also will be offered with an AMG spec body kit and larger alloy wheels.The transmission option will be the 7G, seven-speed dual clutch transmission.
RIDE AND HANDLING ; . The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class gets electro-mechanical power steering offering the best of both a conventional mechanical or hydraulic steering setup and the new age electronic power steering systems. As of now, the GLA will only be offered with a front wheel drive option with a 4Matic (all-wheel-drive) version coming soon. With a turning radius of 11.8 metres, the GLA turns nicely in tight spaces too.The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is aimed straight at a younger audience like all other MFA platform cars. This means that the suspension is slightly on the stiffer side, which in turn does tend to compromise on ride comfort. Over undulated roads, the stiff suspension combined with the bigger wheels did feel a tad bit uncomfortable and bouncy. That said, the joys of a stiffer suspension come to play on smoother surface. But more on that laterAs we mentioned earlier, the GLA-Class does seem a little stiffer than its rivals. Although that does have a negative effect on ride comfort, it has a hugely positive effect on handling finesse. If there was ever a car to highlight the ‘sport’ part of a sports utility vehicle, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is it. Although the larger 18-inch wheels combined with the 235/50 R18 tyres does lend to some of the handling prowess of the GLA, its real ability is more than skin deep
SAFETY AND SECURITY ;
This SUV is built with high strength aluminum material, which is quite rigid and capable of dealing with collisions. It comprises of side impact protection beams and crumple zones at critical areas for added safety. As for the features front. both the trims in this series are equipped with identical safety functions. Some of those include seven airbags, three point ELR seat belts, head restraints, driver’s seat belt warning, door open indicator, rear parking sensors, seat occupancy recognition system for front passenger, collapsible steering wheel and anti-glare inside rear view mirrors. Besides these, they also have an advanced engine immobilizer system with rolling code, remote central locking system including unlocking of doors, anti-theft alarm, and protective under-body guard. The manufacturer has also incorporated it with sophisticated programs like electronic stability control, dynamic curve assist, hill hold assist, anti lock braking system, anti slip regulation, and brake assist function.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLA is a worthy buy if you’re looking for a reliable, entry-level luxury subcompact SUV. While its interior is relatively upscale and attractive, don’t expect it to be as luxurious as more-expensive Mercedes-Benz models. It’s an entry-level SUV, after all, and like many in the class, the cabin materials reflect its base price ($32,850). Still, you can find a few competitors, like the less-expensive Audi Q3 ($31,800), that don’t compromise on interior material quality.
As for space, the GLA is one of the smallest vehicles in the class. It has cramped back seats and a low cargo capacity. The Q3’s cabin is fairly cramped too, but rivals like the BMW X1($33,100) have plenty of space in both rows. If you’re concerned about the GLA’s lack of space, a larger compact SUV like the BMW X3 ($39,250) may be a better choice, if it fits your budget.