Being the baby SUV in Mercedes’s range, the GLA-Class shares the same platform as the A-Class hatchback and CLA-Class coupe. When it was introduced at the Frankfurt Motorshow back in 2013, it filled a gap in the car market by allowing buyers to enter the SUV market at a lower price point.
And for 2020, the all new GLA200 intends to follow up on Mercedes’s promise to deliver the leading compact SUV in its class. But the GLA-Class has come a long way since the early days in Germany.
In the six years since it entered the market, it has sold over a million units worldwide. A testament of how the popularity of the compact crossover niche has grown as of late. And with the new GLA slated to land on our sunny shores sometime this year, here’s what we can expect from the new model.
While the older model resembled a jacked-up hatchback with a larger lift back, the new model adopts a sleeker crossover-styled body. As well as a host of other upgrades and improvements, both inside and out.
Length wise, both the old and the new versions are largely similar with the new model just 7mm shy of the former. But the new model gains some height, being some 109mm taller than its predecessor. The wheelbase has also been lengthened by 30mm but the rear overhangs are now shorter than the previous model, which should make reversing into parking spots much easier.
The headlights are now sleeker and longer, as are the tail lights. The square wing mirrors have also been replaced by rounder units with a slimmer LED indicator. And thanks to Mercedes’s newer diamond style grille and its wider AMG-inspired front bumpers, the GLA now looks far more premium than its predecessor, which gives the car a sleeker and more aggressive poise.
Like before, the GLA-Class comes with a range of powertrain options. From the base model GLA200 with its turbocharged 1.3L four-cylinder to the 2.0 L turbocharged powerplant in the GLA35 AMG that puts out a whopping 342 horsepower. The base GLA 200 gets 161 horsepower, which is significantly more than the 121bhp in the previous base model GLA 180.
Whereas the interior of the previous GLA was rather lacking, the 2021 model features a similar interior as the current A-Class. The interior now has fewer plastic components, being replaced with soft touch materials, gloss black accents, and more leather. As a whole, the cabin feels more suave and upmarket compared to the former model. Interior ambient lighting is also upgraded, now with 64 colours for drivers to choose from.
Front and center, it has a pair of 10.25-inch screens (7-inch in the base trim level) that display the instrument cluster and the infotainment or navigation systems. The latter screen being a touchscreen of course.
There are also fewer physical buttons, save for a row of sleek metal buttons to adjust the climate controls and seat heaters (which no Singaporean will ever use). The navigation and infotainment controls have also been replaced with a more intuitive touchpad system that provides haptic feedback.
It also features the latest iteration of the MBUX multimedia system that comes with Mercedes’s LINGUATRONIC intelligent voice control, which can pick up a driver’s commands or indirect speech simply by saying “Hey Mercedes”. Think Siri, but in a car. And German engineered (Hallo Mercedes). The GLA comes with Mercedes’s optional Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC cruise control system and Active Brake Assist. There is even an option for a Head-Up Display, which enables drivers to monitor their speed and navigation without taking their eyes off the road.
The seating position is also massively improved, with more headroom compared to the previous GLA. The driver’s seat is high enough to give the driver a clear view of the road ahead, befitting of a crossover SUV. Even in the back seats, passengers benefit from the longer wheelbase with 11cm more legroom in the rear.
All in all, Mercedes seems to be perfecting their crossover platform. Though not perfect, the GLA-Class is encroaching on its other rivals. And in some aspects, it actually surpasses them.