The GLA Class, much like its smaller hatchback sibling, the A-Class invoked extremely positive reactions upon its concept debut early in 2013. With its aggressive stance, a sporty, dropping roofline, squat, ready for action deportment and a tastefully designed rear, the GLA left the compact crossover fans across the world salivating. Though based on the underpinnings of the smaller A- and B-Class hatchbacks, the GLA manages to look muscular and has an air of unusual swagger about it.
Up front, the GLA does resemble its smaller A-Class sibling. The shape of the headlamps, the new M-B trademark crease on the sides, travelling through the doors and merging into the headlamps, and a familiar grille are the primary giveaways. Up front, the point where the GLA takes a deliberate diversion from the A-Class’s styling route is through the more muscular bonnet with a bunch of strong creases. Helping the bonnet’s muscular cause is that large bumper featuring large intakes in place where you generally see fog-lamps on a car. There is also a massive central air dam finished in satin silver with black surrounds doubling up as under-cladding. Up front, that bumper plays a pivotal role in lending the GLA its crossover attitude.
The radiator grille features two prominent slats finished in Silver with chrome highlights holding the massive triple pointed star in the middle. The raked windscreen ends at the highest point on the roof, which keeps dropping all through its length to lend the GLA a sporty, coupe like stance. The front fenders are flared, with black under-cladding which lines the bottom portion of the car all around. That little is significant in lending the GLA the authority to lay its claim over the ‘crossover’ tag, at least in visual terms.
In profile, the new signature Mercedes Styling cues, seen earlier on the S- and the C-class are to be witnessed on the GLA as well. To rearwards tapering creases, are the most defining aspect of the modern Mercedes cars, and the GLA follows the norm. ORVMs are familiar M-B units, and also mark the beginning of a sportily styled greenhouse with chrome lined window sills which are slightly upswept towards their wee end. The GLA gets a pronounced bulge above the rear wheel arches to add significant muscle and character to its stance. That detail has been fantastically executed and adds tremendously to the GLA’s dramatic appearance. Flanking the top part of the roof are two satin silver finished rails, which offer contrast on darker shades.
Looking at the car straight from its rear end draws attention to the unusual width of the car for its size. The width of the lower portion is significantly more as compared to the volume encapsulated by the greenhouse. The generous mass represented by the car’s haunches and the big bumpers endows it with a powerfully built attitude. The egg shaped tail-lamps are lit on the outlines by LED lighting and are sliced in two by the reverse light. They are joined by a horizontal chrome slat, under which you have a hexagonal recess for the license plate. Between the chrome garnish and another prominent horizontal crease above it is the space housing the three pointed star at the rear. The legendary M-B emblem is flanked by the GLA 200 and CDI badging in case of the diesel variant, and has just the GLA 200 lettering to its left for the petrol variant.
The wide loading lip for the boot has a ribbed chrome surface adding to the premium quotient. Under this, you have the rear parking sensors lined up horizontally. The layer of black plastic inserts to underscore the car’s off-roading capability followed by a satin silver insert with an integrated faux diffuser ends the design business at the rear. The rectangular chrome tipped twin exhausts add to the attitude and look fantastic
A very interesting detail on the GLA is the sportily styled rear spoiler, which drops in line with the roof. It is preceded by a very interestingly detailed roof end finished like a diffuser. Looked upon from the rear, thanks to the dropping roofline, the styling element enchants those following the car.
In all, the GLA, even after sharing its FWD layout and chassis with the smaller A- and B-class cars manages to metamorphose into something which’s got a distinct character of its own. It’s not a big car, so the drama exuded by it in the pictures gets a little watered down when you see it in the flesh, but it still manages to charm the onlookers with its flamboyance, attention to detail and bold attitude. It wouldn’t be wrong to term the GLA as the most visually appealing machine when compared to the X1 and the Q3 which are its closest rivals.
Some interesting details of the GLA – Class, represented through images
Boot space is good enough, though the space saver spare sitting atop the loading bay eats up a part of it
Back seats are 60:40 split foldable with access to boot even when they are upright
Tyre pressure monitoring system provides information on exact tyre pressure at each wheel
Rotary knob to browse the COMAND system
Sport, Eco and Manual drive modes to choose from – there is a dedicated button for Eco mode
5 twin spoke wheels with 235/50/R18 Contisport rubber come as standard – you can also choose 19 inch wheels as an option
Bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime lights and LED fiber optics forming the eyelids for the car
Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound
The bonnet opener lever is placed at a rated difficult position to reach
Parking brake isn’t electronic
The proximity buzzer for the Parktronic system
The rear view camera flips out only when the reverse gear is engaged. It’s neatly tucked in otherwise
Uniquely styled, LED lined tail-lamps
Engine, transmission and performance
The GLA-Class upon its launch will be available with a choice of two power-plants – a 1991cc petrol motor with 181 bhp of power and 300 Nm of torque and a 2143cc turbo diesel with 135 bhp of max power and 300 Nm of peak torque. As evident from those specs, it’s the petrol engine which is the performance enthusiast’s pick of the two units on offer. The GLA also happens to be the only compact crossover in its segment which offers a petrol option; rival products from BMW and Audi are offered only with a diesel engine. Both engines are mated to the 7G-DCT dual clutch 7-speed transmission.
Mercedes-Benz are promoting the GLA200 (petrol) as the performance oriented machine, and the GLA 200 CDI as an option for those who are looking at practicality and efficiency. The petrol GLA delivers a claimed efficiency of 13.8 kmpl, while the diesel powered variant boasts 17.9 kmpl, which is quite high for the segment. The trade-off for the high efficiency comes in the form of lesser power, but more on that later.
Let’s talk a few more numbers before talking about how the two engines feel from behind the wheel. The Petrol powered GLA is claimed to complete the 0-100km/h dash in an impressive 7.6 seconds, and goes all the way to a claimed top speed of 225 km/h. The diesel propelled GLA, on the other hand takes a shade less than 10.0 seconds for the 0-100 km/h sprint and has its top speed rated officially at 205 km/h.
From behind the wheel, the GLA 200 feels more alive, responsive and eager for action. Not only is the petrol powered GLA perceptibly faster, the throttle response feel nippier and the car overall feels lighter and nimbler of the two. The 7G-DCT dual clutch transmission also feels more at home with this unit, managing to swap ratios with relatively more readiness. The shifts are not as seamless and smooth as we have come to expect from the good old 7-G Tronic, though the quickness has improved a wee bit. The DCT unit still has some way to go before it matches its rival twin clutch peers in terms of speed and swiftness.
Red-lined at 6250 rpm, the petrol unit offers great shove with every dab of foot on the right pedal. The low to mid range performance is very strong, which made the GLA shine during our ascent on the Chandigarh Shimla highway. It isn’t overly happy being taken to its 6250 rpm redline, but doesn’t protest either. Nevertheless, seldom would you ever need to rev it that hard for all practical intents and purposes. We loved the petrol engine for its fuss-free, practical, yet reasonably performance oriented demeanour – the GLA 200, indeed turned out to be an engaging car to drive by the time we finished our drive in Shimla.
The 2.2 liter diesel GLA, on the other hand doesn’t have strong performance on its side. With peak power rated at 135bhp, it is at a substantial disadvantage as compared to diesel powered adversaries in the segment. What it has on its side, however, is good fuel efficiency and the 300NM of generous torque to propel its over 1.5 ton weight with ease, without the engine having to break a sweat.
The throttle response from the diesel unit, as compared to the petrol is rather sluggish, and the transmission takes a small moment before thrusting the car forward. This diesel motor isn’t particularly fond of being revved hard either and is happy moving forward using its generous torque band in the mid-revs. The oil burning engine doesn’t particularly like being rushed and emanates an unhappy sound as you push it to the limit. There is also a perceptible languidness as regards the intent of the transmission to swap ratios in conjunction with this one.
That said, however, the fuel efficiency of this unit is quite high and its rated top speed of 200 km/h is swift enough to let you travel very quickly for any road conditions in India. If, however, performance is very high on your agenda, then the petrol variant is the way to go.
Both engines also offer three drive modes to choose from – Eco, Sport and Manual. There is also a dedicated button to engage the Eco mode. M-B is providing steering mounted pedals for manual shifts, which is another highlight for the segment.
Comfort, Features and Equipment
The GLA shares its dash with the A-Class, though there are some minor visual differences; Also, the GLA is much better equipped as compared to its smaller cousin. To start with, the chrome A/C vent bezels on the GLA have crinkles on their outer edge, the A-Class doesn’t. Other small visible changes are the plain grey central dials for the GLA, as opposed to the faux carbon fibre inserts for the A-Class. The GLA also features powered seats for the front passengers with three memory slots, a feature unavailable on the A-Class. The insert on the dashboard on the GLA is also of a new material – it’s new in design and texture, and feels quite nice to look at and touch.
The seating position for the driver is much higher in the GLA, offering a better all-round view. As we remember, the low driving position of the A-Class along with the high dashboard wasn’t appreciated much by drivers who didn’t have overly enthusiastic intents. The GLA should have a wider appeal in that regard.
Apart from offering good visibility, the front seats also offer great comfort and support to the driver. Front armrest is fore and aft adjustable and also features a decent sized storage space underneath. Other storage spaces for the front passengers include two lidded crevices below the center console, followed by twin longitudinally aligned cupholders, big door panels with space for a large bottle and more, and a reasonably spacious glovebox.
At the back, the seats are spacious, and despite the sporty roofline, offer decent headroom. The somewhat A-shaped greenhouse (viewed straight on), means that the headroom reduces as you move towards the door. So while you will be alright while sitting straight in the seat, moving towards the flanks or trying to rest your head on the window will have your head brushing with the roof.
There is good leg-room at the rear with ample space for two. As one would expect with a compact crossover, putting a third passenger in would be a squeeze. There is a central arm-rest for the rear occupants with twin cup holders. Behind the arm-rest you’ll find a through opening to the boot for direct access. Rear door panels can also accommodate a large water bottle. Upholstery is done is Artico man-made leather, which, though not as premium as genuine leather functionally, looks quite good.
The GLA-Class, apart from its styling, has its generous equipment levels as a major USP. Mercedes India have launched the GLA 200 CDI in two trims, namely Style and Sport, while the petrol version is available only in the Sport variant. We drove the top-of-the-line version of the new crossover during the media drive – laden with safety, comfort and convenience features, the GLA delighted us with its long list of amenities.
The GLA comes with a panoramic sunroof, which shuts itself automatically the moment it senses a drizzle. As mentioned earlier, the front passenger seat is powered and has three slots for memory. A reversing camera, along with parking sensor should make manoeuvring the GLA a breeze in the tightest of spots, and presents itself as a unique feature for its class.
Attention Assist, meant to suggest fatigued drivers to take a break comes as standard. Mercedes-Benz have also included tyre pressure monitoring system with exact pressure reading for individual tyres as a feature on the GLA. The car also comes loaded with a Sat-Nav with India specific maps packed with plenty of information to navigate you easily even in the hinterlands.
Infotainment is provided via a 5.8 inch freestanding dash mounted screen with rotary dial controlled menus. The aural delight processed from the input is delivered via a sweet sounding Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system, which again is a unique feature for the segment.
The GLA boasts of a reasonably sized boot, good to swallow 421 liters of luggage, expandable to 1235 liters with the 60:40 split rear seats dropped down fully. The useable space, however is lesser, thanks to the space saver spare which rests atop the loading bay. An interesting feature of the loading bay is its width, which is as much as the bigger ML-Class. The GLA also boasts the lowest boot sill height in its class for ease of loading.
In terms of safety and security features, the GLA comes loaded to the brim. Headline news is class-leading seven airbags with the unique knee-airbag for the driver. Solid structural rigidity along with balloons all round have managed to win the GLA a 5 STAR Euro NCAP rating – the fact should be of value for those who plan to travel with their family in the car. The regular army of electronic safety systems including Hill Start Assist, ESP, ASR and BAS comes as standard too.
The cabin is lit tastefully with highlighting ambient lighting in several places. Even the door sills are illuminated and create a premium effect. For those who want even more visual chutzpah, M-B India is offering an illuminated Triple Pointed Star emblem on the grille and bigger 19 inch wheels in two different designs as an option.
Ride and handling
First and foremost, all of us should understand one simple fact – that the GLA rides on a front wheel drive layout, and shares its underpinnings with the smaller A and B class cars. So, to expect this machine to match its traditionally rear wheel driven, more expensive cousins in the family wouldn’t be fair. So the GLA isn’t meant to go around bends like a honed sportscar. The GLA is meant more to make a bold visual statement while keeping its occupants in comfort. It’s not a product engineered to defy gravity or sling around with the mountains as its fulcrum.
Once you have absorbed and come to terms with that piece of information, you’d start appreciating the GLA’s abilities. To start with, the generous 183mm of ground clearance makes the GLA a decent tool to tread the road less trodden. Though not a proper off-road machine, the GLA does manage to handle a fair bit of challenge. We saw its capabilities while crossing some streams while on the foothills of Shimla. Not only did the GLA manage to clear the big stones underneath the water without scraping its belly even once, it also handled some slippery uphill terrains without a fuss.
On the road, the petrol and the diesel variants ride and handle in a perceptibly different manner. The petrol variant, of the two is the more inviting machine. While steering on the GLA200 is relatively lighter, it still feels nicer to operate and gathers sufficient weight as speeds builds up. There may not be enough feedback or feel available at the palms, but it enables the driver to place the car reassuringly and precisely on the road. As long as you’re not doing something momentously stupid, the GLA 200 comes across as a reassuring and forgiving car which would engage the discerning driver to a fair degree.
The suspension too, feels well sorted on the petrol variant and takes in its stride the pervasive potholes and rough surfaces without a whimper. The GLA 200 feels nimble and is a joy to steer around the alluring windy mountainous roads. There is some degree of understeer to be felt, but for this category of vehicles, the GLA 200 shows plausible composure. It’s only over the sharp edged surfaces where the GLA lets the impact pass into the cabin unfiltered. Even with the bumped up ride height, the GLA 200 offers a good mix of absorbent ride and dependable handling.
The GLA 200 CDI, on the other hand feels a bit lacklustre as compared to its petrol sibling. The diesel’s steering is heavier than the petrol’s and somehow doesn’t feel as nice and natural to operate. The car feels slightly nose heavy and even the suspension feels a tad bit stiffer. While the GLA 200 CDI by itself is a nice car to drive, when driven immediately after the GLA 200, feels a little overwhelmed.
There’s no questioning the fact that the GLA is a standout product in its segment when it comes to visual appeal. All through our drive, we saw people twist their necks and have a second look. The equipment list is liberal and the natty crossover scores high in terms of practicality too. While naysayers would point out the lack of an AWD, we really don’t think buyers in this segment are going to miss that piece of equipment much.
We loved the petrol powered GLA 200, which has a nice balance of power and sportiness about it. The diesel powered GLA 200 CDI, on the other hand, doesn’t offer a very enticing drive for the enthusiast. What it does, however, offer, is a frugal engine, which has sufficient shove for practical use at a price which is par with the class, while also offering more equipment than competition.
The GLA has its visual appeal and equipment going in its favour. Go have a test drive today if those two things are high on your agenda.
Rs 32.75 lakh GLA 200 CDI
Rs 36 lakh GLA 200 Sport
Rs 36.9 lakh GLA 200 CDI Sport
- Rear-seat entertainment system
- Apple iPad2-iPad4 docking station on the front seat back rest
- Illuminated three pointed star logo on the front grille
- Bicycle roof rack
- Choice to select between 18-inch, 5-twin spoke black alloys or 19-inch ,5-twin spoke tremolite or black wheels on 235/45 section rubber.
Tech specs :
|GLA 200||GLA 200 CDI|
|Arrangement of Cylinders||Inline / 4|
|Max output (bhp@rpm)||181@5500||135@3600 – 4400|
|Max torque (Nm@rpm)||300 Nm @ 1200 – 1400||300 @ 1600 – 3000|
|Approx top speed (kph)||225||205|
|Acceleration (0 – 100 kph)||7.6 seconds||9.9 seconds|
|Tyres / Wheels||235/50 R18|
|Transmission||7-G DCT 7 speed dual clutch gearbox|
|Ground Clearance (mm)||183|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1525||1585|
|Perm GVW (kg)||1940||2020|
|Open luggage capacity behind rear seat (litres)||421|
|Open luggage capacity behind driver’s seat (litres)||1235|
|Turning circle (diameter)||11.84 meters|
|Fuel Efficiency under standard test conditions||13.8 kpl||17.9 kpl|