By Iñigo S. Roces
The versatility and peace of mind of an SUV need not come in a bulky size or massive footprint. They can all be had in compact and practical form. Such is the philosophy behind the Mercedes-Benz GLA, the first compact SUV from the German brand, now updated for 2017.
Based on the A-Class hatchback, featuring progressive design, serene day-to-day motoring and with good off-road capability, the Mercedes-Benz GLA has been reinterpreting the compact SUV segment since its debut in 2013.
The refreshed GLA comes with an extended range of engines, visual improvements in the interior and exterior design plus updated equipment lines. It has improved styling, sharper features and a host of comfort and smart equipment.
Among the changes are its bumpers, additional light-alloy wheels and the new attractive colors. The exterior changes also contribute to the GLA’s better aerodynamic efficiency. An elaborate roof spoiler lip, specially shaped tail lights plus discreet side rear spoilers ensure that the air flow at the tail end is aerodynamically optimal.
Its LED high performance headlamps replace the outgoing bi xenon headlamps. They use a color temperature similar to daylight and relieve the strain on the eyes during journeys at night. Indicators, daytime running lamps and position light are designed as multifunctional fiber-optic cables. Changing a bulb is no longer necessary over the entire lifetime of the car. Behind are also LED high performance headlamps, with brake lights in three intensities.
The interior has been similarly upgraded. The dashboard is covered as standard with Articoman-made leather with highlights with red contrasting topstitching. The trim extends over virtually the entire width of the car. It is available in black/red (standard) or in black/silver (in conjunction with the Exclusive package).
The instrument cluster has been given a new number design and the speedometer is divided into 30 km/h stages. New needles with a black needle center and the chrome frame around the gear display also ensure an autonomous cockpit experience.
Interior amenities have also been improved with modern connectivity services.It features a new smartphone integration package to connect iPhones and Android smartphones, with interfaces, apps and voice recognition of Apply CarPlay and Android Auto. This feature is available on select units, depending on the engine and configuration selected.
Propelling it all forward is a choice of two engines. In the GLA 180, it is powered by a 1.5-liter turbocharged engine which produces 122 PS and 200 Nm of torque. For the top of the line GLA 200 AMG, it gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that puts out 156 PS and 250 Nm of torque. It then shifts via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Power is sent to all four wheels via Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic all-wheel drive.
Finally, vehicle safety is answered for with features like Active Brake Assist fitted as standard. This system warns the driver if there is not sufficient distance to the vehicle in front and if required, delivers situation-appropriate braking. If the system detects that the driver is reacting too late, it initiates autonomous braking in order to prevent the collision or minimize the consequences. The GLA also has Attention Assist as standard.It can detect typical signs of drowsiness via the steering behavior and warn the driver about an impending microsleep.
Besides the standard equipment, interested buyers can also avail of optional extras. One of them is the optional hands-free access boot lid that can be opened and closed with a foot movement, without using the hands or touching a thing – accompanied by a warning signal. The procedure can be completed at any time and a potential obstacle also stops the process immediately. In conjunction with the stowage facility package the load compartment floor is lockable – the lock is integrated in the flipper handle and operated with a key.
Offering the versatility of an SUV in practical compact car form, as well as an extensive standard equipment list, there’s very little left to want from the GLA. The vehicle is priced at P2,790,000 for the GLA 180 Urban, and P3,090,000 for the GLA 200 AMG.