Motoring News 16.4.2014 06:00 am

GLA is an urban warrior

Mercedes-Benz have launched a plethora of compact vehicles in the last few months and the public is gobbling them up.

The latest release is the Mercedes-Benz GLA which is being marketed as a compact SUV but that is a bit of a stretch as its offroad capability is pretty limited.

Apart from ascent and descent traction control and a marginally increased ride height the GLA is an urban warrior, I wouldn’t even suggest parking on the pavement. However, next to the pavement it certainly looks the part and its manners on the road are absolutely fine.

“Initially we introduced the two diesel engines that excel with dynamic torque and outstanding efficiency: The GLA 200 CDI develops 100 kW, has a displacement of 2.1 litres and maximum torque of 300 Nm. It emits only 119 g of CO2 per kilometre, (and is) therefore not liable for emission tax. The GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC likewise has a displacement of 2.1 litres and develops 125 kW and 350 Nm,” says product and marketing divisional manager Selvin Govender.

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“Petrol engines with a power range of 1.6 and 2.0-litre will extend from 115 kW in the GLA 200 to 155 kW in the GLA 250 4MATIC, will reach local dealerships in September 2014.”

All the engines feature the ECO start/stop function and comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard.

The “entry level” models, if R400 000 is entry level, are front wheel drive only units, but the GLA is also available with the new generation of 4MATIC all-wheel drive featuring fully variable torque distribution.

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Obviously these would fit the “SUV” requirement far better and if the offroad conditions you anticipate are more slippery than anything else the GLA could do the job. The ascent control in particular is very effective and provided you are not looking for a big breakover angle at the end of the climb the GLA will get you there. But bear in mind the German designers probably had ice in mind rather than rocks.

For those that insist on the GLA as offroader one can, in combination with the standard Audio 20 CD and optional Comand Online, switch the head unit to an off-road display. The steering angle, the selected off-road transmission mode and a compass are displayed there.

The roll angle in degrees, the gradient in percent and activation of Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) are also indicated. If you ever actually need these you are in deep trouble.

Inside the rear seat backrests can not only be folded down completely, but are also adjustable for angle. If the optional Load Compartment package is ordered, the backrest of the rso-calledear seat unit can be moved to a steeper position, the cargo position. This enlarges the load compartment capacity by 60 litres, providing more space for bulky items while still allowing the rear seats to be used by passengers. It can also be used to teach your children not to slouch.

GLA (31)

The large luggage compartment is variable between 421 and 1 235 litres which is generous by compact car standards and offers a large tailgate with optional easy pack tailgate which opens and closes automatically at the touch of a button.

Under the boot floor is a spare wheel well which interestingly does not contain a spare. In fact it can’t which is pretty weird for something being punted as an SUV.

The run-flat tyres the launch vehicles had are optional and not ideal as far as ride is concerned, but without a spare they are hardly optional in South Africa.

With the three lines “Style”, “Urban” and “AMG Sport Line”, the “Night” package and

“Exclusive” and “AMG Exclusive” package as well as further optional extras, the GLA offers a broad scope for individualisation and this is a lot of what the GLA is about – image.

There are also a wide choice of seat upholsteries mixing colour with leather and fabric to varying degrees and spoead restraints are available as an optional extra.

All GLA models come with a six-years/100 000km Premium Drive maintenance contract.

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