Automakers are rushing to fill ever-narrowing niches in their lineup, particularly in the crossover and SUV segments. Eager to plumb all corners of the market, Mercedes has taken a look at its littlest ute and given it a bit of growth hormone.
Called the GLA, this new iteration will be 10 centimetres taller than its predecessor, though it will also be 1.5cm shorter. The former should provide extra front seat headroom, while the latter is a result of GLA’s new squared-off nose. A wider track helps give it a more purposeful stance. Thanks to a trick new rear seat that slides 14 centimetres, maximum second-row legroom goes up by 116mm compared to the outgoing model.
A selection of four-cylinder engines are available to be fitted under the new GLA’s hood. The GLA 250 4MATIC will come with a 2.0L inline-four making 221 horsepower and 258lb.-ft of torque, the latter of which comes online at a handy 1800rpm. The Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4MATIC gets an engine of identical displacement but belts out a healthy 301 ponies and 295lb.-ft of twist. The former is paired with a 7-speed DCT, the latter with an eight cog unit.
In Canada, the GLA comes equipped as standard with the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive system. Unlike the previous model, in which the actuation was hydraulic, the clutch in the new GLA is electro-mechanically operated. Why is this worth mentioning? Because the operation is no longer dependent on engine speed. It should help improve efficiency and reduce friction.
A new Off-Road Engineering package includes an additional drive mode in that 4MATIC system, plus Merc’s take on downhill descent control and a few unique screens in the car’s media display. As you’d imagine of anything bearing the three-pointed star, a yaffle of comfort and safety systems are available, including the active distance and steer assists to help reduce driver fatigue.
Interestingly, Merc chooses to describe the GLA as part of its compact car family, sharing space in the bumf with the A-Class sedan and CLA coupe. This is refreshing in the face of so many manufacturers trying to yell about their SUVs that clearly aren’t. They do, however, use that term liberally throughout the vehicle description. And so the world turns.
The GLA will be produced in Germany. Look for them to begin sprouting on dealer lots early next summer.