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Mercedes-Benz has eight SUVs within their product range, no less. The GLA is the smallest and entry into the “G” family of SUVs. The first GLA, launched in 2014, sold a million units around the world, making it arguably a global success. I know this vehicle very well as it is part of my family vehicles. Aesthetically, I enjoyed the car but was never bowled over by its drive. It just did not feel worthy of the Mercedes badge in my option, despite this first attempt at making a small premium SUV Mercedes have moved on to launch the second generation.
Fast forward to 2020 – the arrival of the new GLA. Taller by 10cm, 4cm wider and shorter by 1.5cm, it feels bigger and less like an inflated hatch, like its predecessor. Roomier with better passenger space and a larger boot that features height-adjustable load floor, which comes as standard, improves its versatility. As an example, for very bulky objects, the load floor can be put in the lower position, the cross member behind the rear seats can be removed and the rear seats with optional fore/aft adjustment can be moved forward.
I enjoyed the previous model’s safety systems that included a collision warning and prevention system – this has also been enhanced in the new GLA. If you opt for the optional Driving Assistance Package, features include turning manoeuvre function, emergency corridor function, exit warning, pedestrian warning, Active Distance Assist Distronic, Active Steer Assist, Active Speed Limit Assist, route-based speed adjustment, evasive steering assist, active lane-keeping assist, active blind-spot assist, active brake assist, traffic sign assist and pre-safe plus which detects a potential rear impact.
Blind Spot Assist warns of vehicles, including bicycles, in the danger area – even when the vehicle is stationary. Traffic Sign Assist recognises posted speed limits and no-overtaking signs, and when selected, gives a signal when the speed limit is exceeded. No-entry restrictions are also recognised.
These features are truly phenomenal doing the car great justice in preventing accidents.
Included as standard is the intuitively operated MBUX infotainment system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). The system can be individually configured, and features a powerful computer, vibrant screens and graphics, customisable presentation, full-colour head-up display, optional navigation with augmented reality, learning software, and voice control activated with the prompt ‘Hey Mercedes’.
A novel feature, a first in its class, is a car wash function: with just one command, the exterior mirrors are folded in and the side windows and sliding roof closed. The climate control switches to air-recirculation mode and, after a few seconds, the front image from the 360° camera (if fitted) is displayed to assist the driver when driving into the car wash. These settings are automatically deactivated when the driver drives out of the car wash.
At launch, South African customers will be able to choose from the GLA 200 and the GLA 200d. More derivative will no doubt be added, presumably AMG models. The GLA 200’s 1.3-L engine puts out 120kW and 250Nm of torque, with claimed combined fuel consumption of 6.0-5.7 1/100 km. The GLA 200d’s 2.0-L diesel engine generates 110kW and 320Nm of torque, with a claimed combined fuel consumption of 5.2-4.9 l/100 km. I reviewed this model and during my test received a consumption of 8.2 1/100 km, which is still particularly good considering it was a heavy urban test cycle. These are both completely new engines with the 200d being significantly better than the old 220d in the previous model. Both variants are offered with automatic gearboxes, the 200 is mated to a 7-speed and the 200d an 8-speed – both incredibly good with only a slight jerkiness on occasion.
Looks, practicality and technology aside, a standout feature of the new GLA is its ride quality. Supple, nimble and refined are good descriptions for the comfort one can expect from the new GLA. This is a vast improvement over its predecessor.
Within a somewhat competitive space the old GLA fell short of its rivals in many regards. The benchmark was and arguably still is set by the Volve XC40, but the Mercedes-Benz is extremely close and very much worth shortlisting if any of these vehicles are on your horizon.
Audi Q2/Q3, BMW X1/X2, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus UX, MINI Countryman and Volvo XC40.
GLA 200 R679 040
GLA 200d R714 560
Service and warranty
The GLA range is sold with Mercedes-Benz’s 5-year/100 000km maintenance plan.
GLA 200d R714 560
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