Mercedes-Benz GLA revealed
- A-Class SUV: first pictures
- Available with front- and four-wheel drive
- On sale in November, from £25,000
This is the Mercedes-Benz GLA, a new rival for the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque that's due on sale at the end of November.
The GLA is the fourth car in Mercedes' new 'compact' line-up, following the A-Class, B-Class and CLA-Class. It uses the same front- and four-wheel-drive chassis parts as those cars, albeit with modifications designed to give it greater ride height. Unlike the A-Class, where the engineering focus was on sporty handling and agility, the GLA is said to be set up primarily for comfort.
At 4417mm long and 1494mm high, the GLA is around 120mm longer and 60mm taller than an A-Class. It's longer but lower than both the Q3 and Evoque, though, so it still looks like a beefed-up version of a regular family hatchback rather than a full-blown SUV (more in tune with BMW's X1, in fact). Mercedes has included extra plastic body cladding around the wheelarches and along the flanks, plus metal-finish front and rear bodyguards, to give the GLA a more rugged look.
What are the engines?
Mercedes is pitching the GLA above the A-Class, so that car's more modest engines (including the Renault-sourced diesel), won't be on offer here. Instead, the line-up will start with the GLA200 petrol (with 154bhp), and the GLA200 CDI (134bhp), both with front-wheel drive.
The four-wheel-drive models, badged 4Matic, will get more powerful engines: the 168bhp GLA220 CDI (which could well prove to be the best-selling variant overall), and the GLA250 turbocharged petrol, with 208bhp.
Mercedes' seven-speed dual-clutch auto gearbox will be standard across the range, but a six-speed manual will also be available as an option.
The GLA's four-wheel-drive system defaults to front-wheel drive in most conditions (to cut emissions and fuel consumption), but it can transfer up to 50% of the drive to the rear when required.
The default suspension set-up on all models (even AMG Sport), will be Comfort, but a stiffer Sport setting will be offered as an option.
What's it like inside?
If you've seen an A-, B- or CLA-Class already, then you won't be too surprised by anything on offer in the front of the GLA, because it shares almost all of its dashboard and fascia with those cars. Mercedes' latest circular air vents (as originally seen on the SLS supercar), are still present, although they get a slightly different chrome surround, with deeper textures.
Thankfully, the fake wood trim shown here will not be offered in the UK. Instead, British buyers will have a choice of finishes such as metal, carbonfibre effect and 'Piano' black.
The dashboard's layout is familiar enough, though, with the large central screen and Mercedes' infotainment system controller between the front seats. As with the A-Class and CLA-Class, over-the-shoulder visibility is affected by the thick rear pillars, but the front of the cabin feels spacious enough.
You do sit slightly higher than in an A-Class; the seat position is raised by about 30mm, although it would be incorrect to call it lofty. Mercedes UK is also considering offering an even higher suspension set-up (as an option), that would lift it further.
The higher seating position and a taller roofline make it slightly easier to get into and out of the GLA than the A-Class (and much more so than the CLA saloon).
The boot space is larger than an A-Class's, at 421 litres with the seats in place, and 836 litres with them folded down completely. An optional 'Load Compartment package' will move the rear seat backs to a more upright position, freeing up a further 60 litres of load space while still allowing passengers in the rear.
The boot itself looks squarer and more useful than the A-Class's, and there are luggage hooks integrated into the plastic mouldings at either side of the compartment.
The standard equipment list is still being finalised, but even entry-level SE models will get all of the body cladding seen here, plus 18in alloy wheels (the car in these images is on 19-inchers), digital DAB radio and leather- effect upholstery.
An optional panoramic glass roof with integrated front sunroof will be available; there's still enough rear headroom for adults up to six feet tall if this is chosen. Regular GLAs will get conventional front seats, while one-piece sports seats will be optional, or standard on AMG Sport models.
How much will it cost?
Well-placed sources say the GLA's pricing will start at around £25,000, so slightly less than the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, and around £5000 less than the cheapest Range Rover Evoque. That entry-level car will be front-wheel drive, though; factor in Merc's 4Matic transmission and the more potent engines required for that set-up and the figure is likely to be more like £28,000 – or around the same as Audi's 175bhp Q3 diesel.
A high-performance GLA45 AMG will launch later next year, with the same four-wheel-drive system and the A45 AMG's 335bhp engine, priced at just over £40k.
By John McIlroy
Used cars for sale
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