Subcompact Mercedes GLA a Sly Beauty 

June 10, 2016  
Filed under Money

The Mercedes-Benz GLA offers beauty and function, including advanced driver-aid technology.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA offers beauty and function, including advanced driver-aid technology.

By Mark Maynard

In the fast-paced, urban landscape, the subcompact crossover has emerged as a gateway to a calm experience in heavy, workday traffic. These glorified wagons move at a tough pace to get through the mean and busy city streets. They then go home to fit into just about any legitimate parking space.

The luxury brands dangle these vehicles as entry points and then ease into the capability of the cars with features such as microsuede softness and advanced driver-aid technology. Among the choices are the Audi Q3, BMW X1, Lincoln MKC, the upcoming Infiniti QX30 and this story’s tester, the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

The Mercedes-Benz is based on the entry level CLA sedan to create a European style weekend car that is more wagon than small SUV. I prefer the Mercedes treatment to the GLA over the CLA, which has cut some corners to meet the budget.

The GLA250 is sold in front or all-wheel drive (4Matic), with a 208-horsepower, direct-injection and turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder and a seven-speed dual-clutch, automated manual transmission. Pricing starts at $32,500. The 4Matic tester had a starting price of $35,425 and was $45,505 with added options.

There’s also the high performance GLA45 AMG ($50,505 with 4Matic), for which the engineers, essentially, slide in another set of camshafts and crank up 355 horsepower at 6,000 rpm with 332 foot-pounds of torque from 2,250-5,000 rpm. This engine gets the beefier AMG speed shift 7-speed DCT and other AMG tuning essentials.

GLAs are a sly beauties. These are subcompacts without the utility space of larger vehicles. While the front seat area always seems spacious, with good headroom (about 37 inches in the GLA with panorama sunroof, $1,480), the back seats and beyond are subcompact. 

The GLA’s back seat has a short bench, but a wide door opening, which helps entry. There are three seat belts in the back and the space is functional, with bottle holders in the doors, a wide, fold-down armrest with cup holders, a 12-volt plug and grab handles with coat hooks. 

The cargo area, with seats folded, is about 5 feet long, 29 inches tall at entry and 41 inches wide. A power tailgate is a handy, luxury class perk.

Mercedes cites 0 to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds for the GLA250 4Matic, with fuel economy of 24 miles per gallon city, 32 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined, on premium. The GLA45 AMG gets to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and has mileage ratings of 23/29/25 mpg.

Fuel economy, of course, is subjective and I preferred the quicker shift and acceleration responses of Sport mode. The 250 4Matic weighs 3,428 pounds. And while there is an emissions sparing, idle, stop to start function, I usually switched it off to avoid the split second re-fire of the engine.

The electric steering is light, but consistently steady through the arc. The turning circle of 38.8 feet seems wide for a small car, but an effect of the fairly long wheelbase at 103.6 inches. Parking and maneuvering were nimble. Braking is confident from 12.6-inch front disc brakes, 11.6-inch rear.

The four-wheel, independent suspension is active, in that there is much road feel, bounce and jump, which is not uncommon in sporty crossovers that are this size. — CNS 

 

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