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Mercedes-AMG GLA

Motoring Review

Some love them, some hate them and a fair few of us find them confusing. I’m referring to crossover vehicles, and like it or not, they’re here to stay.

South Africans seem to adore crossovers, one of which has been the Mercedes-Benz GLA, which has recently been updated. I travelled to a dry Western Cape to find out just what exactly has been changed. 

So what's changed on the outside? 

At first glance, I couldn’t really tell what had changed, but something just looked different. It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror after a good two weeks dieting. Something has changed, but it’s not quite as obvious as you might think. For the GLA, it’s the front-end.

The updated car now features reshaped bumpers at the front and rear. The front end looks tidier in terms of design, which is brought on by new headlights and a new grille. To further enhance the look, the car features new wheel designs and some new attractive colours, “Canyon Beige” being one of my favourites. 

Have they changed the interior? 

Well, yes, but again, I didn’t notice anything immediately, but after a few minutes, I started seeing that the steering wheel is new, the tablet-like screen looks more professional and the 
instrument cluster has also been refreshed.

The options list for the interior is quite long, as with most German cars these days. Mercedes-Benz has also added new chrome detailing as well as new trim design elements to further enhance the overall look. It remains top quality as one would expect from the brand.

As always, the infotainment system caters for those who demand to be USB and Bluetooth connected to their InstaBook and TweetFace accounts, with the aid of Apple CarPlay as well as the ability to connect to the World


The GLA remains a practical alternative to the A-class on which it is based. Size wise, it’s pretty much the same when it comes to its dimensions and interior space, however, the GLA features a slightly raised ride height as well as a more forgiving suspension and chassis setup aimed at tackling tough terrain. 

As before, the GLA is available with Mercedes-Benz 4Matic all-wheel drive system on specific models, which also aids in giving better traction on-and off-road. 

The engines

In terms of propulsion, Mercedes-Benz has left engines options unchanged. Some slight software enhancements have been added though to help improve efficiency. 

At the launch, I got behind the wheel of two models; the GLA220d and the AMG GLA45. I do like the GLA220d, I feel that it’s the complete package if you are looking for a GLA that has power and economy. It’s 2.1-litre turbodiesel motor develops 130kW and 350Nm which works well with the 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox and 4Matic. I’d say it’s the ideal combination.

For those wanting more excitement, there’s the AMG GLA45. Powering this compact rocket is the most powerful production series 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol motor in the world, with outputs of 280kW/475Nm.

The 0-100km/h sprint is dealt with in around 4.3-seconds according to Mercedes-AMG. This is achieved thanks to a more performance-orientated 4Matic system as well as a Launch Control. The whole experience is all very theatrical with loud pops and bangs along the way. The only downside to this fun is that the ride becomes bone-shatteringly uncomfortable, although it can be adjusted by the push of a button.


Mercedes-Benz is targeting a younger audience with their range of young at heart cars; the A-class, CLA and GLA. It says that these cars are a perfect fit for those who still live a youthful lifestyle and with a host of new, interactive technology making its way into the cars, it’s clear to see this in action.

Take the new Mercedes me app. It gives you control over your car via your smartphone. You can do a host of things like lock or unlock your car, park it, set the satellite navigation and more all via your phone. 

The GLA remains an attractive proposition for those looking for a premium crossover with loads of badge value. The changes have improved its overall appearance because let’s face it, it was never the looker in the range; now though, it’s worth a second look. 


GLA 200 

GLA 220d

GLA 220d 4Matic 

GLA 250 4Matic 

Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4Matic 


Article written by Justin Jacobs 

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