by John Tallodi
The GLA-Class luxury compact crossover has been available since 2014 and offers car-like driving dynamics along with a large array of features. As with a number of competitors, the GLA-Class now has added smartphone integration availability and it has also received an improved standard specification. Minor updates to the exterior help keep the smallest Mercedes SUV competitive.
As it is based the CLA-Class sedan, Mercedes-Benz fans will instantly recognise the cockpit design. The interior is snug exuding a premium feel and the controls are laid out logically around the driver.
On closer inspection a slight let-down is the low quality appearance of some of the plastics and switchgear. Interior changes are minimal but include a redesigned touchscreen and there is still a huge range of customization options available for the interior trim. The front seats are generous and while there is not a surfeit of space the GLA-Class offers adequate oddment space.
While the front occupants may appreciate the intimate cabin feel it can get downright claustrophobic for those in the rear as head and leg room is very compromised. Cabin space too is well down on other compact luxury SUVs and the GLA Class even struggles to compete with most conventional hatchbacks in this regard.
The GLA Class is clearly aimed at the sporty end of the compact crossover market and while there is no denying its composure and handling prowess it achieves this by severely compromising ride quality. Some rivals such as BMW's new X1 and even the Infiniti QX30 which is based on the same platform manage to offer a less compromising ride while still being sharp to drive.
Nevertheless, being based on the CLA-Class sedan the GLA-Class offers a very un-SUV like drive and will appeal to those who prioritise driving dynamics above all else.
The GLA Class is available with a 208 horsepower 2.0-liter inline-4 turbocharged engine, pushing out 258 lb-ft of torque it provides strong performance. Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions are available, both equipped with a quick-shifting dual clutch transmission.
0-60 mph takes 7.1-seconds (7.2 for all-wheel drive versions) and other than a slight hesitation on pull-off and sluggish responses in ECO mode, overall performance is right on par with the competition. Thanks to the smaller dimensions and efficient drivetrain, the GLA-Class also offers good fuel economy even for the 4Matic all-wheel drive model.
Optional equipment on the GLA-Class can significantly increase the base price however standard equipment is comprehensive and now includes an 8-inch touchscreen and redesigned gauges. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity is now also available.
The GLA250 and GLA250 4Matic differ only in that the 4Matic comes equipped with all-wheel drive, an off-road status monitor and hill descent control.
Standard fitments include a power liftgate, Mbrace telematics, 6-speaker sound system, power driver seat and Bluetooth connectivity. A number of packages can be optioned too.
The Interior Package offers real leather upholstery and sports seats. The Premium Package adds keyless entry and ignition, heated front seats, blind-spot assist and a hands-free liftgate feature. The Multimedia Package adds navigation, 3-years of map updates and advanced voice control.
Customisation of the interior extends to a large range of upholstery colours, multicolour ambient cabin lighting, illuminated door sills and even LED logo projectors. An AMG line exterior package with AMG body styling, unique 19-inch wheels and black headlining adds sporting intent to the GLA-Class' looks.
Individual options such panorama roof, LED head and tail lamps and Harman Kardon upgraded sound system can also be chosen.
The GLA-Class is a sporty compact luxury crossover that offers strong performance in a stylish package although a tight cabin and hard ride count against it. A comprehensive options list can push pricing uncomfortably high but thankfully standard specifications are generous.