Auto review by Veeno Dewan
The compact five-door Mercedes-Benz’GLA350 is the smallest and most affordable SUV in the prestige auto makers lineup. Newly revised, with a high greenhouse and a tight premium look to it, the GLA makes a lot of sense if you don’t need a bigger more expensive SUV, but still hanker for the three pointed star on your driveway.
The GLA is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired an 8-speed automatic transmission and Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. For 2021, the redesigned GLA is offered in three variants, starting with the $42,400 GLA 250 with 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The two AMG variants; the $52,900 GLA 35, with 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from a well massaged AMG four cylinder with a 100 km/h in only 4.9 seconds! Meanwhile, the $60,500 GLA 45 offers a killer 382 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque from its hand built AMG four cylinder with a blistering a zero-to-100 km/h sprint in 4.4 seconds.
We tested the more sedate 221 horsepower GLA250 priced at $42,000 equipped with the Premium Package, Technology Package, Navigation Package, Heated Nappa Leather Steering Wheel, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, 360 Camera and active Parking Assist for a total of $50,875 plus destination and taxes.
Interior – wise, the Mercedes’ has a wonderful cabin. A two-piece panoramic sunroof, which comes standard on all GLA models and adds a light airy feel to the cabin, There are turbine-like air vents set off the dash which is itself a work art – slick twin flat screen panels, are directly in front of the driver to replace the usual gauges. The Premium package at $3,600 replaces the standard twin seven-inch display screens with 10.25-inch units. The Premium package brings the excellent new MBUX feature with the “Hey, Mercedes” voice functionality to the infotainment system that allows you to do such things as turn on the heated steering wheel, play a certain song, or navigate you to the nearest restaurant should you get the munchies. The Premium package also offers the $1,600 Technology package. It includes LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beams. , and an Off-Road oriented mode for “light off terrain” driving, giving you incline angles on the screen and automatically adjusts your crawl speed, The new blind spot assist with Exit Warning system is included in the Premium package, a system which alerts the driver for cyclists coming up behind and warns the driver once parked for up to three minutes after the car is turned off.
Also cool is the available augmented reality-enhanced navigation system that provides arrows and addresses super imposed on map directions. It also includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, phone connectivity and available wireless charging pad and a USB-C charge port. There is plethora a of high quality materials, smooth Artico leather on the seats, brushed metal speaker grill trim, along woh chrome and meta. There is a column-mounted shifter, center-console-mounted infotainment controller. Mercedes has added more room so to fix the problem of a previous cramped rear cabin. Rear-seat passengers gain almost five inches of extra legroom, as well as more shoulders and elbow room. Cargo capacity is increased compared with the old model to 435L and the rear seats fold flat for more versatility offering 1,430 L.
On the road, the Mercedes-Benz feels and rides better with a more compliant suspension over rough pavement. Acceleration and pickup is good, with torque coming on smoothly from the turbo 4 engine. The GLA 250 uses a seven-speed DCT, switch to the available Sport drive mode setting, and the seven-speed shifts quicker. You can use the Shifter paddles to use manual mode. Front-wheel-biased system, distributing 80 per cent of the power toward the front wheels in comfort and eco drive modes, with a 70/30 split in sport mode. The off-road package that features a mode to simulate a locking differential, balancing the power distribution at 50/50 front and rear. Steering feel is a little light, but body roll is better managed this time around.
From a fuel efficiency perspective, the GLA 250 is now slightly better than last year, achieving an overall combined average of 8.7 L/100 of premium fuel. The only downside I can see is that some safety and driving aids come in are extra cost options packages and add a hefty whack to the MRSP – But I would still consider them, as they do add to the ownership experience. To sum up, the GLA250 is a very attractive package- a premium German SUV that makes a lot of sense. It can be expensive with extra cost options, so tick boxes carefully. Highly recommended if only a Mercedes -Benz will do.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC
PRICE: Base: $42,400; $53,065 as tested