It’s a whole new generation out there… they’re calling it the ‘Y’ generation. Full of young business exec’s climbing the corporate ladder, fighting for that high-rise corner office. It’s a billion dollar market for automakers, and Mercedes-Benz is stepping in with their all new baby-ute versatility crossover noted as the GLA-Class.
After the success of their 4-door coupe CLA-Class, it only seemed fitting to have a crossover follow in its footsteps. Following closely to its bloodline, the GLA is nearly similar in every way to its CLA sibling. Sharing the same 2.0-liter turbo direct-injected four-cylinder engine, the GLA250 is capable of pulling out 208 horsepower through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. Offered in either Front-Wheel Drive or an All-Wheel Drive platform noted as 4MATIC the GLA250 could see zero to 60 in about 7 seconds – however, for the time being, Mercedes will be pushing out their 4MATIC AWD systems to dealer’s showrooms first.
Beyond the similar CLA interior of matching dash and seats, there is a breath of fresh air for rear passengers as they’ll notice a considerable amount of headroom due to the crossover’s shape over the CLA’s coupe-like design. In terms of driving attributes, the GLA250 is everything you expect from German engineering. There is presence of a strong, stable chassis that provides a rewarding feeling around every corner. The steering provides a steady feedback of road feel while the suspension copes with the rough patches of day to day driving. The Eco Smart/Stop system that shuts of the engine annoyed us during our 5 mile course during the bumper to bumper traffic – but they say it optimizes fuel efficiency – we’ll see.
Prices for the GLA250 start at $31,300 – for that you get a handsome looking grown-up lifted CLA with 18-inch wheels and the 3-star badge. Start clicking some of the options on the Build section of mbusa.com’s website, adding things like the Lighting Package and Driver Assistance Packages and prices start to steadily creep into the 50-grand range – ouch!
Of course though, if you’re about to lay 50k on the standard GLA250 than you might as well go balls deeps into the GLA45 AMG – which Mercedes was happy to bring along for us to experience. Prices there start at $48,300 and for that you get the handcrafted AMG 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine capable of producing 355 horsepower through the same 7-speed dual-clutch tranny and 4MATIC All-Wheel Drive system.
Springing for the GLA45 AMG, be prepared to become the rudest driver in your gated community. This thing makes all sorts of noises that generally make you take an antacid – its belches when you stomp on the accelerator and farts when you left off – passing pedestrians never became more fun, until its ruined when your mother gives you the look… you know the look. However that motherly troubled expression can easily be wiped off into terror as Mercedes claims it can take under 5 seconds to 60 mph.
As our evening of testing these iconic machines came to end – it was sad to see them go. The GLA250 is marked to compete against the BMW X1, Audi Q3, and perhaps the new Lexus NX200t. Until we get our hands on one to see where it properly lands, the GLA marks itself as a strong competitor against its top rivals.