Within days of its European launch, the first versions of the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA have started arriving into Ireland.
In appearance, the GLA has an impressively attractive design that many young drivers will find appealing. And, it differs from existing competitor compact SUVs from BMW, Audi, etc, in that it sits lower and is not as tall. I enquired about this because it is a new segment for Mercedes-Benz, and apparently extensive research indicates this is the direction that compact SUVs are likely to be going.
The GLA is built on the new A-Class platform. Its confident, self-assured fascia, sleek profile and tallish shoulder line convey an impression of size and spaciousness.
Body styling features that include front and rear underbody protection panels, high-rise wheel arches and all-round contrasting dark grey cladding, combine to underline its functionality. Bonnet top power domes give the GLA a brawny, sporty-like appearance, while its headlamp design, twin-louvre grille with inset ‘star’ motif and vented front bumper, come together to create an image of solidity and width.
In a vehicle aimed at younger drivers, it is not surprising that technology takes a front seat. Features include Siri voice control, Facebook, Twitter, internet radio and iPhone integration, to name but some.
There are four equipment packages from which to choose – Style, Urban, AMG and Exclusive. Interior elements include rear seats that can be folded and adjusted for angle. It has a generously spaced luggage compartment of 421-litres, which expands to 836-litres when seats are folded. One option is sport seats with integrated head restraints.
Dashboard features include a three-spoke steering wheel with 12 function keys, five integrated air vents, and an infotainment display screen. All fittings are finished in silver metallic trim.
Four engines are available initially – two diesels and two petrol versions, all of four-cylinder design with direct injection and ECO start/stop function. First to arrive is the GLA 200 CDI which comes on the market from €35,800 (ex works ). Powered by a 2.2-litre, 136bhp engine, it delivers an economical 4.3 litres/100km (or 66mpg ) fuel consumption. Other models in the mix will be the more powerful 170bhp GLA 220 CDI and petrol versions that include a 1.6-litre, 156bhp GLA 200 and a 2.0-litre, 211bhp GLA 250.
Mercedes-Benz tells us that aerodynamically, the GLA is a leader in its segment with a drag coefficient of just 0.29 – a factor that contributes to its low fuel consumption in everyday conditions. Transmission is six-speed manual or 7G dual clutch automatic.
As one would expect from a car that follows in the wake of the new S-Class, safety features are to the fore in the new GLA. Standard elements include the acclaimed drowsiness detection and a radar-based collision prevention system with integrated adaptive braking function.
Optional is a system that can apply the brakes autonomously at speeds up to 200km/h to reduce the severity of a collision in cases where the driver fails to detect slower moving vehicles ahead. Other options include systems to monitor blind spots and assist with lane keeping, high beam control and parking.
Although perfectly suited to day-to-day urban driving, the GLA can be supplied with optional new generation 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive. Its extremely rigid body – with McPherson front axle and an independent multilink rear suspension – provides it with stable and safe handling characteristics, both on and off road.
Commenting to the Advertiser, Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales manager, Ciaran Allen says: "Following recent A-Class, B-Class and CLA introductions, the arrival of the GLA sees Mercedes-Benz take another decisive step towards capturing that younger breed of motorists that has long been in its sights. Fourth of five planned new models from Mercedes-Benz, the GLA brings them into the rapidly expanding compact premium SUV market - the fastest growing segment globally and one that is predicted to treble in size over the next decade."