Within days of its European launch, first versions of the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA are arriving into Ireland and can be viewed in dealer showrooms across the country.
In appearance, the GLA has an impressively attractive design that many young drivers will find appealing. 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 to choose from – Style, Urban, AMG and Exclusive. Interior elements include rear seats that can be folded and adjusted for angle. Its has a generously spaced luggage compartment of 421-litres – which expands to 836-litres when seats are folded. Optional are 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 fitments are finished in silver-shadow 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 GLA200CDI, 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 fuel consumption. Other models in the mix will be the more powerful 170bhp GLA220CDIand petrol versions that include a 1.6-litre, 156bhp GLA 200 and a 2.0-litre/211bhp GLA 250.
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, Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales manager, Ciaran Allen said: “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.”
Mercedes plans to make the most of that SUV sales boom. Next year we’ll see an all new GLC – a BMW X3 rival which replaces the ageing left hand drive-only GLK, while the M-Class family will expand to include a larger seven-seat variant. There is also the intriguing prospect of a new, even smaller Mercedes, the so-called X-Class, which will be based on the chassis and engines of the Renault Captur(Mercedes and Renault have been sharing engines and chassis for some time now).