My first impression of this car was quite an eye opener, once they pointed out which car I would be taking, the only thing I could hear my brain screaming was BLUE !!!, Who would order a Mercedes in Blue, not only that, this Blue is the $900 optional South Seas Blue Metallic Paint. I managed to calm down my screaming brain, convincing it that we would give this car and colour the benefit of the doubt. Walking around the GLA, I noticed it’s quite a big car for what is a compact crossover. but it had a really good presence and stance to it, and you know what, the Blue really worked. Optioned with the AMG sports package, adding those flared bumpers and skirts, 19 inch black wheel, it was a surprisingly good looking car from almost every angle.
This is where I immediately started having issues; not with the build, layout style or design, but with its roof and pillars. Being a tall guy you notice quite quickly that the roof slopes in towards the center of the car a lot more than other cars. The top of the A pillar where it connected to the roof was brushing against the side of my head, and it was where I hit my head several times during this test. That aspect mixed with the general size of the car and I suspect that most talk people would find the GLA a bit cramped. The glass roof did help to make the space feel a bit bigger or brighter, and surprisingly enough the roof was not an even an option.
The rest of the interior was like any other Mercedes, modern and clean, except for the standard splashing of buttons in the centre console. This car was optioned with the Command Package, and is still one of the most oddly designed pieces in the current range, feeling very much like an after thought. Which could be why it’s an option and not a feature. But nothing shocked me as much as the centre console construction, it was a great storage space, but seemed to be made of the cheapest plastic known to man. And it did something no German car should do for at least the first 50,000km, it rattled, and it did this a lot. In fact it rattled so much so that I used my wallet and phone to weigh it down as it was driving me crazy.
The back has quite a different feel to the front, seats were pretty decent for the size of the car, with more of a SUV style posture it allowed a bit more room for knees, which is always good for us taller people. The roof was great from the back too, making the car feel very open and spacious. The boot was a good size, 421 litres, which is about 40 litres more than a typical hatchback. Push button open and close is standard, and with the 60 / 40 fold down rear seats, this grows to 836 litres. More then enough for the occasional new pieces of small furniture or shopping blowouts that we all have from time to time.
This was the most surprising part of the test, as I pretty much expect it to feel like a SUV, and as it was not a true AMG model, and just adorning the body kit, suspected it was going to be a bit or a bore. But I was wrong, the only aspect or feel of an SUV you got when the ride height and position in the vehicle. Everything else felt like I was driving a car, and not just a big wagon, something more like a sporty coupe. This was a bit odd, maybe it something to do with the smaller than SUV size and weight and the high window sills. But when you got this car into a few nice curvey roads, it did bring a smile to my face.
The 250 power by the 2.0L turbo straight 4, with 155kw and 350nm of torque, had more then enough power to pull the GLA around, not mind blowing power, but it never left you feeling unconfident about its ability. The ride was very smooth, even on the 19inch AMG rims, the tyres are not very low profile, so there is room for the tyre to absorb some of the road, instead of passing it on. There was also really good feedback from the wheel, you could alter the position of the car with delicate movements, with confidence that it will hit the apex of the road. The brakes felt very nice too, not too sporty, but also not soft or squishy, just the right amount of feel to them for this kind of vehicle. Like most Mercedes, the engine note was not half bad either, with a hint of a grunty drone in the cabin as you cruise along, and hint of a bit of a boy racer turbo esque sounds when you put your foot down as you take off from the lights or power out of a corner. This is a surprisingly enjoyable car to drive and would not be disappointed with it as a daily driver.
What it’s up against.
The Compact SUV / Crossover market is a niche within a niche, and is a hard one to even know which vehicles fit in it. When you break down the numbers the GLA is pretty pricey for what you get, top in its field by a couple of thousand, only overshadowed by the price of the Porsche Macan.
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||Luggage Capacity||Price High to Low|
|Porsche Macan S||1.4 L Turbo I4 TFSI||250 kw / 460 Nm||8.7 L / 100km||500 Litres||$124,400|
|Mercedes-Benz GLA 250||2.0 L Turbo I4||155 kw / 350 Nm||7.0L / 100km||421 Litres||$76,900|
|Audi Q3 Sport S line||1.4 L Turbo I4 TFSI||110 kw / 250 Nm||5.9 L / 100km||460 Litres||$73,400|
|BMW X1 sDrive20i||2.0 L Turbo I4||135 kw / 270 Nm||6.9 L / 100km||420 Litres||$70,400|
|Mini Countryman Cooper S All4||1.5 L Turbo I4||140 kw / 240 Nm||8.7 L / 100km||350 Litres||$55,500|
|VW Tiguan 4Motion R-Line||2.0 L Turbo I4||132 kw / 280 Nm||8.7 L / 100km||470 Litres||$55,490|
The good and the bad.
What do we think ?
It’s great to finally see some colour from the Mercedes-Benz range, instead of the traditional and what can feel like overused Black, White and Silver models that flood our streets. I really didn’t know what to expect from the GLA, as it was another manufacturer chasing the niche that other brands are trying to fill. But sometimes it’s better not to be first, as you can see others make mistakes and learn from it. Apart from the high price, the GLA is a pretty impressive car, practically as a good daily driver, with the added ability you have a little bit of fun when you want to. I was just a shame that it was let down be a couple of cheap and easy to alter pieces.
Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250
|Vehicle Type||Front Engine, AWD Compact SUV Crossover|
|Starting Price||$ 76,900 NZD|
|Tested Price||$ 83,260 NZD|
|Engine||Turbo I4 2.0L, 155 Kw , 350 Nm|
|Transmission||7G-DCT 7 Speed Automatic|
|0 – 100 kph||7.1 seconds|
|Kerb Weight||1585 kg|
|Length x Width x Height||4417 x 1804 x 1494 mm|
|Cargo Capacity||421 Litres|
|Fuel Tank||56 litres|
|Fuel Efficiency||Combined – 7.0 L/100km, 162 g/km CO2|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||Yet to be tested|