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19 December 2014 Last updated
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Star of Stuttgart: Mercedes-Benz GLA compact

By Dejan Jovanovic
Added 00:00 | August 23, 2013
  • The new GLA

    The new GLA rounds off Merc’s SUV portfolio of five models.

    Source:Supplied picture
  • Mercedes-Benz GLA

    You can choose from five trims: Style, Urban, AMG, Exclusive and SUV Style.

    Source:Supplied picture
  • Mercedes-Benz GLA

    As the name suggests, the GLA is the smallest crossover in Stuttgart’s family of CUVs.

    Source:Supplied picture

Mercedes couldn’t wait until the Frankfurt motor show to reveal its latest model

Manufacturers just can’t contain themselves these days. The Frankfurt motor show is only around the corner, but Mercedes-Benz couldn’t keep mum with the surprise any longer and blurted out all the information regarding the brand new GLA compact crossover.

Just as well actually, because it would’ve hardly been a surprise — from all the spy shots we’ve been publishing it was clear this car would surface right about now.

As the name suggests, the GLA is the smallest crossover in Stuttgart’s family of CUVs and SUVs — GL presumably stands for Geländewagen Leicht (‘light’ in German), which is a tag that comes from the big-daddy GL SUV and is quite funny since at two-and-a-half tonnes that thing is anything but leicht…

As for the A in GLA, that reveals this crossover is based on the company’s latest A-Class platform, so you can think of it like a front-wheel drive CLA coupé-saloon, but without the coupé or saloon bits. So really, it’s an A-Class on stilts.

Rivals

Audi Q3: The Q3 is essentially a more expensive Tiguan, but that’s no bad thing — wheels’ 2012 tester cost Dh199K with a 211bhp 2.0-litre turbo four-pot.

BMW X1: Back in 2010 we rated the xDrive28i quite highly, but it does have a ride that’s far too harsh for a premium crossover. For Dh215K you can get the 285bhp model.

Mercedes-Benz swears blindly this GLA possesses genuine off-roading capabilities however (which is something we’d love to put to the test when we review the car next year), with dimensions of 4,417mm, 1,804mm and 1,494mm for length, width and height respectively. That makes the GLA slightly shorter but wider than the BMW X1, but also longer and narrower than Audi’s Q3.

Predictably, then, we can safely assume the GLA will nestle right into its rivals’ price bracket of between Dh150K and Dh220K.

The new GLA benefits from a low Cd of just 0.29 (It even looks sleek and slippery, doesn’t it?), an all-new generation optional and permanent all-wheel drive system with fully variable torque distribution, a flexible interior (the rear seats fold flat and recline), 836 litres of total cargo volume and a host of engine choices.

Kicking off the range is a 1.6-litre petrol engine, but our region will most likely be dominated by the now-familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder worth between 156bhp in the GLA 200 and 211bhp in the GLA 250. And once Affalterbach is done tuning the AMG version, expect a GLA 45 with well over 300 ponies.

The chassis carries advantages such as car-like McPherson front suspension and an independent multi-link rear — which isn’t strange given that this is a car (A-Class) chassis — plus tech such as electromechanical power steering with automatic countersteering if necessary, and of course that new 4Matic system.

This optional bit of kit promises great driving performance and a bit of off-road prowess with a dual-clutch automatic ‘box (transaxle set-up) containing all sorts of torque-distributing tricks as well as something called DSR, or Downhill Speed Regulation. Without getting too boring and technical, DSR basically regulates speed on a downhill.

And finally, this being a Benz, there are naturally a whole plethora of smart safety systems like Attention Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Adaptive Highbeam Assist. In short, you’ll get your money’s worth of Assists.