It’s a good thing Mercedes-Benz’s compact front-wheel-drive platform is versatile. The foundation for the brand’s A-class hatchback, the high-roof B-class, and the U.S.-bound CLA-class, this architecture serves as the basis for Benz’s assault on BMW’s X1 and Audi’s upcoming Q3: the GLA-class
The GLA’s platform makes use of a strut-type front suspension and a multilink rear setup, as well as electric power steering. We’ve found Benz’s electric-assisted steering to feel precise in the brand’s other compact models, but we do question the Germans’ insistence that it provides “better feedback” than a conventional hydraulic power-steering unit. Regardless of how the steering is assisted, its inputs are directed to standard 18-inch wheels, while 19-inchers are optional.
The sole engine available in the U.S. is the same 2.0-liter turbo four that’s found in the CLA250, which produces 208 horsepower at 5500 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque from 1200 revs. It’s a smooth and quiet powerplant, part of a new engine generation that has been proliferating Benz’s larger, rear-wheel-drive models in other markets. Power is transmitted to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, but all-wheel drive can be optioned.
Despite the relatively small engine, performance is beyond reproach: Mercedes says that the all-wheel-drive GLA reaches 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, and it tops out at a lofty 145 mph. Figures for the standard front-drive variant haven’t been made available yet. Benz’s American arm hasn’t revealed any fuel-economy estimates, either, but in the notoriously optimistic European cycle, the GLA250 4MATIC receives a mark of 33.1 mpg.
At 173.9 inches long, 71.0 inches wide, and 58.8 inches tall, the GLA-class has dimensions that make it a formidable city car. Even still, rear-passenger room should be sufficient for most trips, and cargo space swells when the rear seats are folded down. The interior treatment borrows heavily from the GLA’s compact sister models, but it does feature distinct color combinations and decorative trim. Benz’s MB-Tex synthetic leather is the standard upholstery, while the genuine article is available as an option. The dash panel can be specified in aluminum, or a choice in wood finishes: high-gloss or a matte that we find exquisite. Galvanized switchgear is abundant and generates a premium look that’s reminiscent of more-upmarket vehicles.
Of course, what would a new Mercedes be if it wasn’t stuffed full of the latest telematics and assistance systems? The brand’s new-gen telematics platform, mbrace2, offers connectivity and the infotainment features we’ve come to expect in a free-standing display that sits atop the dash. Mercedes’ Collision Prevention Assist provides autonomous braking from speeds of up to 124 mph if the system detects an imminent collision—the system only works at speeds up to 18 mph if the object you’re about to collide with is stationary. The standard Benz fare of blind-spot detection, lane-keeping, park assist, and adaptive cruise control all are available, too.
To the typical crossover customer, style matters a lot, and the GLA-class is sure to trigger heated discussions. Its curvaceous body, highlighted with multifarious decorative accents, might be slightly disturbing to those Mercedes aficionados who harbor some nostalgia for the sober and ultra-clean models of the Bruno Sacco era. Benz’s press release says that the GLA’s design is “youthful, sculptural, and full of drama.” For those of you who could do with a lesser degree of drama and clutter, we’re sure Mercedes would be more than happy to sell you a G-wagen.
The GLA250 4MATIC will appear at dealerships in the fall of 2014, and the front-drive GLA250 will follow in early 2015. Pricing information hasn’t been made available yet, but we expect to see base prices in the low- to mid-$30,000 range.
Watch the video below: DESIGN Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4Matic 2015
Thanks to JENS MEINERS and caranddriver.com for the news!