Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d: Sporty yet elegant

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d 4-Matic is priced at 38 lakhs (ex-India)

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Likes:

+ Aggressive front styling and the sloping roof make it stand out from the crowd

+ Top-notch interior quality. Mercedes has not compromised on the quality for this entry-level crossover

+ Compact size ensures  excellent agility: you can zip around some really tight lanes without worrying about the brilliant paint job

+ The 7-Speed auto gearbox is a joy to use. Also, loved the swanky looking Canyon beige colour that gels perfectly well with this car

+ Choose from different driving modes like Sport, Eco, Comfort & Individual. “Sport” mode offers superb driveability

Dislikes:

– Underpowered compared to the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. This car is capable of handling some serious bhp numbers on the chart

– Cramped rear seat best suited for 4 adults. Make the 5th passenger sit for a longer duration and you have a new enemy for life

– The spare tire is strapped in the boot. Hence, the volume is severely compromised

– The elder sibling GLC 300 is a lot more VFM proposition for those extra $$$

– Missing features like rear AC vents, hydraulic bonnet struts and under-bonnet cladding which can be found in a car costing a fraction

How does it look?

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For 2018, the GLA carries over mostly unchanged, but there’s a subtle new look to the front and rear bumpers and new wheel designs. The instrument cluster design is new, and a rearview camera and 8-inch display are now standard equipment. The muscular creases on the bonnet make it look a little more aggressive. The three-pointed star is housed in the center of the chrome finished grill. It actually gels with the attractive canyon beige color on the car.

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The overall styling is aggressive with beefed up wheel arches, black plastic cladding all around and aluminum accents on the bumpers, roof-rails and grill. The bonnet has aggressive lines running across its length, swooping down into the front grill which houses the 3-pointed star. The sharply sloping roofline dominates the side profile, along with an interesting shoulder line that swoops down. The rear has a roof with an integrated spoiler. The LED tail-lamps and dual exhaust tips integrated into the bumper  fill the rear.

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The front and rear bumpers are all new, while the grille also gets a tweaked design:DSC_0093

The bi-xenon headlamps of the outgoing model have been replaced by all LED units with DRLs which is a high-performance unit. It certainly delivers what it proclaims as illumination at night is indeed bright and has adequate focus and spread.DSC_0100

The front of the car does not get a seperate housing for fog lamps:DSC_0143

The all-new 5-spoke alloy wheels complement the car which look quite appealing: DSC_0151

The side profile remains the same, but it’s not that it needed any touch-ups. The crease line that begins with the headlamps and runs along the length of the GLA to disappear into the rear wheel arch is what catches your eye. This angle also highlights the GLA’s hatchback roots, evident from the short pillars and small glass area. While it’s not a cause for concern, the shape and size of the windows do hamper your view from the cabin. So parking in tight areas or maneuvering in heavy traffic requires a little more attention. DSC_0152

While some may argue that the rear is a tad overdone compared to the front:DSC_0208

A closer look at the tail-lamp. Looks outdated compared to its rivals: DSC_0210

Dual exhaust is a real-exhaust that’s chrome plated:DSC_0215

While the boot is big enough for this size car, it is severely compromised with the presence of spare tire eating up conderable amont of space. Don’t be surprised if you have to tag along a cab to those airport rides: DSC_0220

Power socket in the boot:DSC_0223

What’s on the inside?

On the inside, the dashboard layout has been carried over without any major changes, though the car now gets a new 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Navigation is being offered as an optional extra. There is also an ambient lighting system on offer, which comes with 12 color options

The GLA’s interior is much the same as a Mercedes A-Class’s, which means you get an eye-catching dashboard with slick-feeling rotary-style air vents and a smattering of gloss and metal finishes. However, some of the plastics don’t feel as plush as you might expect, and there are sharper edges around the lower parts of the interior. Put simply, an Audi Q3 has an altogether more upmarket interior which feels like home.

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Although, The quality of the material used is excellent:DSC_0237

If I had to omit 1 feature from the car, it would undoubtedly be the 8-inch infotainmnet system that simply feels out of place: DSC_0238

Although the GLA may feel llike raised-up hatch, the ingress/egress is pretty easy. Elderly won’t have to conplaint unlike the A class: DSC_0244

It reminds you that you are in a Merccedes-Benz. Front seats are electrically adjustible with memory function. Notice the smaller things like brilliant finishing of the inner door handle: DSC_0245

The best place to be in the car. The front seats offer excellent support. Simply superb leather qualiity on offer. DSC_0247

The steering feels great to hold. The buttons are easy to reach. Loved the silver finish at the bottom. DSC_0248

Twin-pod instrument cluster is the sportiest in its class. A plethora of info on display including mode selection, temperature guage and the current gear: DSC_0254

The rear seats are best suited for 2 adults or 3 chilren at the max. Abselce of rear AC vents make the matter worse in the Indian humid climatic conditions:DSC_0261

Compared to the front, the ingress/egress in the rear is slightly difficult but quite managable: DSC_0263

Scooped out front seats with net pockets for your favourite magazine: DSC_0264

A large panoramic sunroof adds to the sportiness of the car: DSC_0265

The glove box does not get heating/cooling feature. Also notice the sexy AC vents:DSC_0271

How does it Drive?

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The 2017 GLA continues to be offered with two engine options. The 2,143 cc, the four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine is available in two states of tune – 134 BHP and 300 Nm in the 200d and 168 BHP and 350 Nm in the 220d. Meanwhile, the petrol version gets a 1,991 cc, four-cylinder engine with 181 BHP and 300 Nm on tap. All engines come with a 7-speed automatic gearbox, while the 220d comes with an AWD system as standard.

The electric steering is light enough when pottering around town. As the speedometer climbs, it does weigh up, but there’s still some lightness felt. It’s too dull for enthusiasts and is lacking in feel. The steering itself is great to grip with its sporty, three-spoke design finished in leather & metal.

Better safe than sorry

In the area of safety, the Mercedes gets a 5-star well-deserved safety rating. 7 airbags (including one knee airbag for the driver), Hill Start Assist, ESP, ASC (Acceleration Skid Control), Brake Assist, Attention Assist and a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System are standard on the long list of saferty features.

Should I Buy One?

The 2017 Mercedes Benz GLA-Class makes a smart choice if you want a luxury crossover that moves, parks and economizes fuel like a compact sedan. It may not be the most practical or spacious SUV there but has enough grunt on offer that will satisfy most of your needs. In a nutshell, if you are looking for an entry-level Mercedes-Benz with decent off-road capability mated to good on-road dynamics, the GLA ticks the boxes. With the ever-expanding sales & service network of Mercedes-Benz India.

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-Composed by Zahoor Hassan

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