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Getting down and dirty with Merc’s GLA


FOLLOWING on from the second-generation B-class, third-generation A-class and CLA saloon, the GLA-class is the fourth new Mercedes-Benz model of a compact car, and the first Mercedes-Benz to enter the fast-growing compact SUV segment.

The German newcomer looks like a high-riding, slightly beefed-up hatchback. With it comes extra practicality and comfort, compared to the A-Class with which it shares a platform but dressed in its own distinctive steel body, sporting a tougher look than any of its on-road biased siblings. It’s amazing what a tad extra ground clearance can achieve.

The range was introduced with two diesel engines consisting of the GLA 200 CDI and the GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC; while having the 220 turbo diesel on test delivering 125kW and 350Nm of torque.

I’m personally not a fan of the Eco Stop/Start function on new vehicles and find that it makes the cars very sluggish at take-off, especially the GLA, which has quite a delay when coming off a side road or when crossing a busy street; almost every time, it didn’t deliver enough power quick enough. Once it gets going though, there’s no stopping it.

The GLA is incredibly tasteful, oozing sportiness while not losing its notorious class, with no exception made to quality. Styling on the interior is very modern yet busy on the front console, even a bit cluttered from the driver’s seat, but everything is within convenient reach. The sporty one-piece seats (a stylish mix of leather and fabric) keep you snug and comfortable.

The centre console screen looks like an afterthought with its stuck-on nature and looks quite cheap compared to rivals such as Audi’s Q3. However, the bold jet vents are a nice touch.

The back seats could feel a little crammed but, then again, there’s a great amount of luggage space with the availability of 421 litres.

While seats are comfortable, there isn’t much all-round visibility from the driver’s seat. The car has smooth, automatic changes and glides on and off the road. It can be noisy when idling, but all settles down at speed, where the GLA’s ride quality deserves special mention. The handling, supported by all-wheel-drive, feels secure and gratifyingly tenacious, with satisfying levels of grip and traction.

The GLA is well-suited as an urban-based crossover and for a more laid back driving style. Mercedes-Benz customers (who have cars across the different segments) would be pleased.

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