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Sunraysia Daily Saturday, February 7, 2015
ERCEDES’ GLA Class completes the
small car triple-play so beloved of its
compatriots Audi, VW and BMW - a
hatchback-based SUV. Spun off the A
Class platform, it has the extra height and the
four-wheel drive its 4Matic badge implies.
It also has some chunky urban warrior
chic black plastic, big wheels to fill its huge
arches and that now unmistakable Mercedes
aesthetic. Its greatest competition is Audi’s
gracefully ageing Q3 while the now-elderly -
but capable - X1 brings up the rear. The Tiguan
is so old it can’t be considered in the same
In a way, the GLA kicks off the second-
generation of German small SUVs by being the
last of the first. Whichever it is, it needs to be
good to take on the competition.
The GLA 250 opens the bidding at $57,900 .
That’s a big jump from the GLA 200 diesel and
a fair way short of the potty 265 kW $80,430
GLA 45. For reference, the front-wheel drive A
250 on which it is based, is $51,000 .
In its base form your money gets you a six-
speaker stereo with USB and Bluetooth, cruise
control, dual-zone climate control, alarm
with tow away and motion sensor, man-made
‘ leather’ trim, rear-vision camera, front and
rear proximity sensors, electric front seats
with memory and heating, auto headlights
and wipers, active bi-xenon headlights, keyless
entry, gigantic panoramic sunroof and power
mirrors and windows.
Added to the GLA 250’s $57,900 base price
is metallic paint ($1082), Driving Assistance
and Comand packages (both $2264) or a grand
total of $63,510.
Driving Assistance adds active cruise and
lane departure warning while the Comand
package throws in DAB digital radio,
12-speaker stereo, internet bridging with your
mobile’s data connection and a inbuilt hard
Chunky, eh? Or should that be chunky A
(sorry) because it shares a lot of its styling
flourishes with the humbler hatchback. The
GLA is 4417 mm versus the A-Class’s 4292 mm
but isn’t appreciably bigger on the inside.
The slightly blunt front end is capped by
a shapely bonnet and the rest is basically
standard raised hatchback, with wheelarches in
unpainted plastic. The front and rear bumpers
have satin chrome inserts. It’s not a heavy-
handed SUV, just enough to convince the SUV
buyer that they’re buying one. If that makes
Inside is instantly familiar to A/CLA
owners and that’s no bad thing. Well put-
together and slickly designed, there’s just a
few suspect plastics choices to worry about.
The accommodation is good, with plenty of
headroom and adequate legroom for rear
passengers, but a long-range five-seater
it isn’t , at least not if you value those rear
Lots of storage around the cabin makes it a
handy family device, including what look like
sneaky phone hiders under the front seats.
Nine airbags, ABS, brake assist, forward
collision detection, blind-spot sensor, fatigue
detection, crash avoidance with braking,
traction and stability control.
As befits Mercedes’ reputation for safety, it
was awarded five ANCAP stars.
The Comand system is virtually identical
to that found in the CLA/A and is still an
acquired taste. There are sometimes too many
movements required to do something simple
and it can be hard to work out what’s “in focus”
for the rotary dial. The shortcut buttons for the
dial are sometimes ignored by the software
causing jabbing and swearing. However, the
screen itself is clear and well positioned with
good detailing and smooth graphics
There’s too many seemingly randomly-
placed buttons around the cabin, too and
button presses don’t always tell you what
you’ve just done. The sat-nav, though, is fiddly
and lacking in detail, but works just fine.
The GLA 250 is powered by Mercedes’
2.0 -litre turbo-petrol, generating 155 kW of
power and 350 Nm of torque. Driving all four
wheels through the seven-speed twin-clutch
transmission, those figures will propel you
to 100 km/h in 7.1 seconds while averaging a
claimed 7.0 litres per 100km.
Despite a devil-may-care attitude to fuel
economy which included disabling stop-start
to keep the air-con running to banish Sydney’s
oppressive humidity as well as off-setting
the massive sunroof, we were well under 10
If it looks like a high-riding hatch, then
that’s probably how it should drive. In this
regard, the GLA did not disappoint. Body roll
is there, but well-controlled and never lurching
or lunch-worrying. Large bumps are seen off
with a muffled thud and a jangling from the
assorted tools beneath the boot floor.
The steering and brakes come in for special
mention for being just right. Throttle response
from the 2.0 -litre turbo is a bit soft in Eco, but
all that is forgotten when you introduce the
pedal to the carpet. The transmission swiftly
kicks down and rides the torque, shifting
seamlessly between the seven ratios.
Curiously, the sound of this engine is quite
different than in the CLA or A - it sounds
more gravelly, perhaps to give a bit more
of an impression of ruggedness. It’s not
disagreeable, just strange, something you
might only notice if you’ve gone straight from
one to the other.
It’s not a fireball, but never feels slow as
long as you’re forthright with your right foot.
Suburban running is as relaxed and easygoing
as its highway composure, although some
surfaces bring a hearty roar from the 19-inch
The cheaper BMW X1 is a better drive than
the Merc but has a dull interior while the Audi
Q3 is a more convincing SUV. Both are several
grand cheaper to start with but don’t have such
a lavish standard equipment list, nor a three-
pointed star on the front.
The GLA looks pretty good - and for some
people, looking like a Mercedes is important -
drives well and has a stack of goodies to attract
If you don’t really need all-wheel drive and a
slightly higher driving position, stick with the
cheaper A-Class and enjoy the savings (or more
options). But we know that an SUV is sometimes
irresistible and if you want the one that’s bang
up to date, the Merc is the one to get.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 250
4Matic: a high-class ride
Mercedes’ compact SUV feels a lot like a high-riding A Class.
Call into North Star Motors LMCT
8241 at 29 Orange Avenue for all
your Mercedes enquiries.
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