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Old 16th November 2014, 18:20   #1
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Default Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

The Mercedes GLA-Class has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 32.75 - 36.90 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• Aggressive styling. Stands out from the other crossovers in this segment
• A proper Mercedes on the inside. Top-notch interior quality
• Potent petrol engine with 181 BHP on tap. Good driveability & performance
• 7-speed automatic transmission is extremely smooth. Paddle shifters too
• Car-like dynamics, awesome brakes & 183 mm of ground clearance for rough roads
• Well-kitted: 18" rims, panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlamps, memory seats, Harman Kardon ICE etc.
• 5 star NCAP safety rating. 7 airbags, ESP, ABS, attention assist & more

What you won't:

• Expensive for a small crossover. On-road price crosses 40 lakhs!
• Mediocre diesel engine. 40 - 50 horses lesser than the Audi Q3 & BMW X1
• A 4-seater at best. Rear space comparable to B2-segment hatchbacks. Also, poor under-thigh support
• FWD only. No AWD on offer like the Q3
• Ride quality has a firm edge to it. Compliant, yet far from plush
• Transmission isn't as quick to shift as a dual-clutch ought to be
• Spare tyre significantly reduces the usable luggage space

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2014 at 18:24.
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Default re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Among the German trio, Mercedes was the only one left out of crossover territory; BMW has the X1 and Audi the Q3. The X1 went through a mid-life refresh too, which incidentally didn't do as well as the earlier generation, thanks to higher prices and the Q3's dominance.

Until now, if you wanted an SUV from Mercedes, the only options available started with the mammoth ML250 CDI that is positioned above the Audi Q5 & BMW X3. Its premium pricing (at Rs. 65 lakh) didn't deter buyers, and the CKD SUV still commands a waiting period in some cities. The other SUVs (ML350, GL and G-Wagen) are priced even higher.

Mercedes already had a compact SUV in its international line-up, the GLK-Class. The GLK is sold in America as well as Europe, but is only available in LHD (left hand drive) configuration. Mercedes probably thought it's best to skip RHD (right hand drive) countries as the product itself is 6 years old. It wasn't a sales success either. Moreover, the driveshaft is aligned to the right and the GLK would need structural changes to be built in a 'right hand drive' configuration. Had the GLK made its way to India, it would have been priced well above the Q3 and X1 (probably closer to the X3 and Q5).

Mercedes announced a brand-new platform known as the MFA (Modular Front Architecture) in 2011 which made its debut in the B-Class. A few months later, the MFA-based A-Class and CLA-Class followed. These cars are primarily available as front-wheel-drives (FWD), although their AMG versions have an AWD layout. The MFA is designed to use existing engines from Mercedes in a transverse layout (vs the longitudinal arrangement of other Mercs).

At the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show, Mercedes showcased a compact crossover based on the MFA platform - the concept GLA-Class. This was the answer to the X1 & Q3. The production GLA-Class was unveiled a few months later at the Frankfurt Motor Show. In Feb 2014, the GLA-Class was also displayed at the Delhi Auto Expo. Within a few months of its international launch, this compact SUV has now made its way to India.

The GLA is offered with 2 engine options which - importantly - differ from the A and B-Class. The petrol is a larger 2.0L motor (the A and B-Class use a 1.6L). The diesel, on the other hand, is the same 2.1L engine...with a significant bump up in performance.

The GLA-Class is an important car for Mercedes. It is the company's only chance at the crossover segment as they have nothing else below the ML-Class. Audi has the Q3 & Q5 which enjoy a firm hold over this segment. The Q3 has a base trim with a manual transmission starting at Rs. 25 lakhs, going all the way up to Rs. 38 lakhs for the Dynamic trim. Mercedes adopts a different strategy with the GLA via a more premium positioning. For the A-Class and B-Class, the petrol & diesel variants were priced at par (although the petrol had more features). This changed with the recent Edition 1 variants of the A & B-Class. On the GLA, both engine options are fully loaded in terms of equipment. The diesel gets an additional cheaper variant that loses some features. This is most likely targeting the Q3 Premium trim level.

Going by the A and B-Class prices, I'd expected the GLA to be priced more competitively. Unfortunately, that's not really the case. The pricing is on par with the Q3's high-end variants. The Q3 is a more accomplished crossover with an AWD option, while its diesel motor has more oomph than the GLA. The Merc makes do only with front wheel drive for now (4matic option is expected a few months later).

Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review-mercedes-glaclass-price-specifications.png

The top spec GLA is known as the 'Sport' variant and is rather well kitted. You get a huge panoramic sunroof, massive 18" alloys, bi-xenon headlamps and a reversing camera. On the inside, there is a Harman Kardon Logic7 surround sound system, electric front seats with 3 memory settings, ambient lighting and more. In the area of safety, the Mercedes gets 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.

Visually, the GLA looks stunning. It does appear like a jacked up A-Class from certain angles (especially from the front), but that's not a bad thing. Size wise, the GLA is actually longer than the Q3, yet it looks smaller due to the shorter height & sharply sloping coupe-like roofline. The GLA's height is even lesser than the BMW X1 which looks like a grown-up hatch itself! Unlike the clean styling of the Q3, the GLA is all about swoops, curves and muscle. During our drive, the GLA drew attention everywhere we went, thanks to its unique styling. This crossover is clearly targeted towards a younger segment of buyers and not the 'typical Mercedes customer'.

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 ribs 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 unique "buck tooth" roof with an integrated spoiler. The LED tail-lamps and dual exhaust tips integrated into the bumper (in satin chrome) fill the rear.

Build quality is typical Mercedes solid. Fit and finish are impeccable and there's not an inch that gives you the feeling that you're in a budget Merc. The doors shut with a solid thud. None of the test cars had squeaks or rattles, even after being abused over the media drives. A kerb weight in excess of 1.5 tonnes (1585 kgs for the diesel) for a FWD crossover is testimony to the solid build of the GLA. The Indian GLA-Class gets a raised suspension. Internationally, the GLA has a ground clearance of 170 mm; for India, it's 183 mm. This increased ground clearance coupled with the 18" wheels helps in giving the GLA an SUV-like stance.

Front closely resembles the A-Class, but has aggressive creases which distinguish it from the hatch:

The front is quite sharply raked:

Side profile reveals the compact dimensions and hatch-like rear. Wheelbase is 2,699 mm:

Possibly the only angle from which the GLA looks like a crossover...with the raised stance, plastic cladding and beefed up shoulder:

Large integrated roof spoiler on the sloping hatch. Notice the aluminum roof rails:

Rear view:

Sharp front. Merc no longer keeps things conservative:

No diamond grill option for the GLA (like the A-Class). The grill has 2 slats, which have a shiny chrome finish in the front and satin finish behind. The lower part of the bumper features an aluminum finish. Surprisingly, no front parking sensors (A-Class has them):

Headlights have exquisite styling. Attention to detail is praiseworthy. LED DRLs are flanked by LED turn indicators:

Bi-xenon lights are standard:

The bonnet has two vertical ribs for a more aggressive look:

Typical Mercedes-style ORVMs with LED indicators in the shape of an arrow:

The GLA gets large 18" wheels with relatively low profile 235/50 Continental rubber. Notice the gap in the wheel well due to the increased ground clearance (183 mm for India):

Massive panoramic sunroof covers the entire roof area:

The rear spoiler has a unique styling element. Mercedes calls it the 'buck-tooth' spoiler design:

Dual exhaust tips sit flush in the aluminum garnish of the rear bumper:

Thanks to the 183 mm ground clearance, rough roads aren't a problem. The GLA was able to clear this stream during the media drive. Unfortunately, not all of us were lucky enough to drive through it, as the villagers were unhappy with the diversion we were forced to take (due to a broken bridge):

This angle shows the various cuts & creases on the body line. Notice how the shoulder crease actually joins the LED DRL strip on the headlamp:

The foothills of the Himalayas were an ideal location for shooting the GLA:

The darker brown shade. This colour looks striking, although it hides some of the sharp cuts that are visible on the silver car:

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2014 at 18:52.
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Default re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Interior - Front

If you've sat in an A-Class, then you've been inside the GLA. The interiors are almost identical, barring a few changes.

Unlike the A-Class, the GLA doesn't require you to crouch into it, thanks to the higher seating. It's still not like a crossover that you just walk into; the GLA is more on the lines of a raised hatchback. As Rehaan mentioned in his A-Class review, the cabin is a special place to be in. It's every bit a Mercedes! Quality is top notch with clever use of materials such as soft touch plastics, brushed aluminum and that unique silver wave finish on the dash. Sure, there is the odd bit of hard plastic (e.g. at the bottom of the dash and center console). Also, the top of the dashboard doesn't have stitching like the A-Class, but soft touch plastics.

The GLA is available in 2 different interior colour schemes. With the brown exterior shade, you get beige interiors whereas with the silver & white, you get black interiors. Interestingly, there were 2 differences on the interiors of the silver media cars. The petrol silver car had all black interiors (including the headliner) while the diesel silver car had all black interiors with the headlining & pillars in dull grey. I preferred the all black which looked sporty in comparison to the grey that felt dull. On the other hand, the beige completely lifts the interior ambience. Since the GLA is a small crossover, the black theme does bring a claustrophobic feeling inside. The beige feels airier and makes the cabin appear roomier than it actually is. It looks very premium and upmarket.

The front seats are a comfortable place to be in. You get electric seats for the driver and passenger with 4-way lumbar support. Moreover, both front seats get three memory settings each. The seat controls are located on the doorpad which takes some getting used to. I kept reaching for the controls on the side of the seats, only to find the lumbar buttons there. Seat travel, both in terms of length and height, is awesome. My seating position in most cars is almost all the way back with the height set to the lowest setting. When I did that in the GLA, it was too far back and the seat went so low that I could barely look outside. I eventually had to raise its height. The seats themselves are comfortable and provide adequate support, although some additional side bolstering would have been welcome. Unlike the A-Class, the front seat design isn't as sporty with the integrated headrests. The GLA's seats come with adjustable ones.

The three-spoke steering offers a wide range of tilt and telescopic adjustments. The left side of the steering houses buttons to navigate through the comprehensive MID. The MID has controls for the ambient lighting, Attention Assist, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System and a host of other settings (as seen in the pictures below). On the right, you have controls for the audio & voice command system.

Behind the steering are the paddle shifters and 3 control stalks. All Mercs now have this arrangement of a steering-mounted gear lever on the right and a single stalk for indicators & wipers to the left. There is a small stalk on the left for cruise control as well (just below the indicator/wiper stalk). This arrangement may look confusing at first, but after a couple of hours, I absolutely loved the ease of just flicking the gear lever down for 'D' or pressing the 'P' button when parked. Moreover, the parking brake isn't foot-operated like in some other Mercs. A small pull/push button (on the right side of the dash) engages the 'handbrake'. Getting the car moving off is just a matter of pushing the parking brake button and flicking the gear stalk down. Parking the car means you simply press the 'P' on the gear stalk and pull the 'Parking brake' button. I started missing this in my Altis and EcoSport the minute I got back home .

Just like in the A-Class, a 5.8" tablet-like screen is mounted on top of the dash. It doesn't look well integrated and is probably the only part of the interior that seems out of place. The display has a 800x480 pixel resolution that shows you the view from the rear camera, fuel-efficiency stats, clock as well as settings for the Harman Kardon audio system. It's not a touchscreen, thus you need to use the COMAND controller placed ahead of the armrest to navigate through the menus. What's even more strange is that all that screen real estate is wasted, as a majority of the settings are in the MID (instrument console) and can't be accessed from this screen. It's not the most user-friendly system either, and feels dated in comparison to Audi's MMI and BMW's iDrive.

The GLA's audio system deserves special mention here. Developed by Harman Kardon, it's known as the Logic7 surround sound system. Sound quality is absolutely brilliant from the 9-channel DSP amplifier & 12-speakers (including a subwoofer in the boot). It can deliver deep bass and remains crisp & clear even when pushed loud.

In such a well-kitted car, what came as a shock to me was the air-conditioner! The GLA isn't equipped with Automatic Climate Control. Rear passengers don't get A/C vents either, just a storage area where the vents should have been. Cooling was satisfactory, albeit September in Shimla is hardly the right time to pass judgement on the air-con's efficiency. We'll leave final verdict on this to our ownership reports. What you will like are the beautifully crafted air-con vents on the dash. These propeller-design vents finished in aluminum are a delight to operate. It's got a rubberised feel to it and you simply rotate it clockwise/anti-clockwise to control airflow.

Thanks to the relocation of the gear lever and parking brake, there are plenty of storage spots in here. The center console has a storage space below the armrest, cup holders and another storage compartment where the gear shifter would have been. All 4 doors get bottle holders as well as some additional storage space.

Sporty 3-spoke steering wheel is leather-wrapped with a comfortable slot for your thumbs. Metallic finish around the center boss feels premium. Steering-mounted controls for the MID on the left side, whereas on the right are controls for audio + Bluetooth telephony:

The center console with the ubiquitous tablet which looks out of place. Screen size is also not that big at 5.8" with a thick bezel on all sides:

The left area (behind the steering) is a busy place with this single stalk doing duty for wipers & indicators. Below that is a stalk for the cruise control:

The right side only has the gearshift stalk. This does take getting used to; once you get the hang of it, you will love the ease of operation. To get moving, simply flick down into "D" with the brakes pressed. When parking, click the silver button on the tip of the stalk to select "P":

A look at the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel:

Front doorpads have soft touch plastics all-round with leather inserts in the center (where your arm rests). They can easily hold 1L bottles:

All 4 windows get auto up/down functionality. Electrically foldable ORVMs:

Driver and passenger get electric seats with 3 memory presets. Mercedes keeps the seat controls on the doors. Aluminium door handle feels good to use:

The front seats are supportive, but could do with additional bolstering on the sides. Even passenger seat gets 4-way lumbar support (via the round button on the side):

Headlight switch looks and feels top notch. You don't have to touch it much though, thanks to the 'auto headlamps'. On the left is the switch for the rear foglamps. The GLA doesn't get any foglamps at the front:

Push/pull type parking brake switch:

Footwell is reasonably spacious. Accelerator pedal should have been meatier. Full size dead pedal:

E - S - M toggles between Economy, Sport and Manual gearbox modes. On the right of the hazard light is the ECO button to activate the fuel-saving (and annoying) start/stop system:

Shockingly, no climate control in a 40-lakh vehicle! However, you could be fooled into thinking it's automatic from the temperature markings:

Driver armrest gets storage space underneath. It's deep, but not wide. USB and Aux-in ports located here:

Storage & 2 cupholders between the front seats. Up ahead is the COMAND controller to navigate through the onboard system:

Front cupholders are illuminated and also get ticket holders:

As the gearshift stalk is placed behind the steering wheel, you get an additional storage area (where the gear lever is usually located). It can hold a Galaxy S3 smartphone quite easily:

Another look at this nifty cubicle:

Felt-lined glovebox is on the smaller side:

Rotary air-con vents exude class! They feel precise to use with a damped motion. Turn clockwise to shut and anti-clockwise to open:

Height-adjustable seatbelts:

Sunroof controls & cabin lights:

Rearward visibility isn't that great. Narrow glass area and an IRVM that tapers downward:

Both sides get convex ORVMS - finally in a Merc! The mirror has an extreme convex area towards the outer edge (denoted by the vertical dotted line):

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2014 at 18:41.
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Default re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Interior - Rear

It's a different story at the back of the GLA. Compared to the nice front with all those gadgets, the cabin's rear isn't impressive. The GLA is after all similar to the small A-Class and has an identical wheelbase. Though the car's overall length has increased by 125 mm, it doesn't translate into a big improvement in terms of space. Rear legroom is a little better than the A-Class, thanks to the front seats which are less imposing, but it's still far lesser than what you'd expect in a 35 lakh car. Note that the higher seating position makes ingress/egress easier than the A-Class.

To put things in perspective, rear legroom is like the EcoSport. Not much for the $$$, yet it's better than the Q3 and cramped X1. Honestly, all the German crossovers - the X1, Q3 and GLA - aren't meant for chauffeur-driven owners. The Q3 has better seats but the space is tight. The GLA has the most space of the 3, but the seats are short on under-thigh support and are a tad upright too (not as upright as the B-Class though). A 5th passenger isn't welcome at all. The seats get even narrower towards the middle, and there is a prominent floor hump that makes things uncomfortable. You don't get rear A/C vents in the GLA (Q3 has them). On the flip side, the GLA is equipped with a rear armrest + cup holders (Q3 isn't).

The sunroof plays an important role for back seat passengers, hence I reserved mentioning it till this post. The huge panoramic sunroof allows a lot of light inside, giving the cabin an incredibly airy feel. Further, the cavity of the sunroof (at the back) releases precious headroom for rear passengers. The sunroof glass sits ~2 inches inside the headliner, resulting in that much more headroom. I didn't have a problem in the GLA...something that I can't say about the A-Class. That said, if you're looking at the lower 'Style' trim, headroom will be a problem as it doesn't get the panoramic sunroof. The sunroof has a thin mesh blind that rolls into the center portion of the roof from both sides. Only the front portion of the glass opens out and goes over the rear glass area.

The GLA's boot is of an average size with a capacity of 421 liters. It goes up to 1,235 liters when the rear seats are folded flat. Mercedes pointed out that the width of the loading area is the same as the ML-Class (1,050 mm). Unfortunately, a majority of the usable space is lost because the space-saver spare tyre is strapped into the boot! Large suitcases won't fit flat as 3/4th of the floor area is taken up by the spare.

Space-wise, similar to B2 segment hatchbacks! The raised stance helps in entry/exit (as compared to the A-Class):

Smart looking door pads are finished in soft touch plastics. The upward slope results in a cooped-up feeling for rear passengers:

Rear door pockets can hold 500 ml bottles with some space leftover:

Beige interiors (available with the dark brown exterior colour) lift up the interiors and give an airy feeling. Ambient lighting in the footwells and door pads looks cool at night:

In comparison, the lighter shades of the GLA get all-black interiors. Can make things claustrophobic:

Limited legroom. Under-thigh support is seriously lacking:

Sunroof helps immensely by bringing in light & liberating headroom by a couple of inches:

Significant transmission tunnel means the back seat is strictly for 2. The seat base actually gets narrower in the middle, resulting in poor under-thigh support for the middle passenger:

The GLA gets a rear armrest - something that the A & B-Class didn't initially. The Q3 still doesn't get one:

No seatback pockets, just hard plastic:

No rear A/C vents either (this is a serious omission)! Only a storage slot for your cellphone with a 12v power socket below:

A look at the ambient lighting in the rear footwell:

Rear grab handle gets a reading light:

Mid-range speaker positioned right on the C-pillar:

ISOFIX child seat mounts means the GLA is baby seat friendly:

Parcel shelf is massive!

421-liter boot capacity eaten up by the space saver spare tyre, which is strapped onto the floor:

60:40 split rear seats bring some practicality:

You get 1,235 liters of cargo space if you fold the rear seats completely & leave the spare tyre at home. This will also give you a flat loading bay:

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2014 at 18:27.
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Default re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review


Comprehensive multi-colour MID displays a host of information. Navigating through the menus is done via the buttons on the left of the steering wheel. You can view distance-to-empty and average fuel efficiency from the time you start, and a graphical ECO display showing how efficiently you've been driving:

The trip meter is comprehensive. Along with the distance, you can view the time, fuel efficiency and average speed. You can opt to see a digital speedometer on the MID as well. There's a compass to show which direction you're headed in. The settings for ESP & Attention Assist can also be toggled:

When Attention Assist is activated, the system will give you a warning chime. It'll display a coffee mug when it thinks the driver needs a break. There's also a service reminder and tyre pressure monitoring system:

Display on top of the MID normally shows temperature and time. Can be customised to show the speed instead:

There's a ton of settings for the lighting. From the intensity of the interior ambient lights to the duration of the follow-me-home lamps. Settings for 'auto door locking' and 'auto folding mirrors' (on lock/unlock) can be changed from here:

Audio system looks like that from any other Mercedes with a head-unit that has an array of buttons. Tablet screen looks like an after-market fitment on top. At the heart of the ICE is the Harman Kardon Logic 7 audio processor:

The GLA gets a 12-speaker system, including a subwoofer in the boot:

Audio settings are simple. Only setting for the Logic 7 DSP is ON or OFF . Audiophiles don't get much to play with:

Tweeters on the front door wear Harman Kardon branding:

Dashboard houses the front center channel speaker:

Radio interface is cool with a retro touch - the band can be chosen by turning the COMAND knob on the center console:

Bluetooth telephony supported:

The only vehicle-specific data on the center screen is the fuel economy:

Analog clock can be displayed:

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2014 at 18:27.
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The GLA's diesel mill is the same 2.1L block as the A & B-Class, but with a bump up in power to 134 BHP. The petrol gets a larger 2.0L engine with 181 BHP on tap. Both motors produce peak torque of 300 Nm (probably limited by the dual-clutch transmission).

The Petrol Engine:

The GLA 200 petrol engine bay. The only way to distinguish the petrol from the diesel is the different engine cover. Bonnet doesn't have hydraulic struts, nor is there any sound insulation mat under the hood:

This 1,991 cc petrol features direct injection and is turbocharged. The 181 horses are produced at a relatively low (for a petrol) 5,500 rpm, while the 300 Nm of torque is available from 1,200 rpm, all the way up to 4,000 rpm.

Even though it's a full keyless system, you still have to insert the key fob into the slot and turn it like a conventional key. Once the engine is fired up, it settles down into a refined idle that's barely audible inside the cabin. What's strange is the sound outside! The petrol motor isn't the quietest from the outside and you can barely make out the difference between the petrol & diesel when standing in front of the vehicle.

There remains no confusion between the two motors when you start driving though. The petrol is superior to the diesel in all areas (except fuel economy). Tap the gear stalk down into 'D' with the brake pedal pressed and, as soon as you start moving, you realise this motor is no slouch. Even with a light foot in slow moving traffic, the engine is drivable and never leaves you wanting. Up the ante and you discover the ample torque and explosive mid-range punch that the turbo-petrol offers. It easily revs till the 6,500 rpm rev limit, although things get rather vocal as the rpm needle climbs. The exhaust note is quite sporty, but at high revs, it doesn't sound as sweet as the Octavia 1.8 TSI. This engine offers fast performance and will do the 0-100 dash in 7.6 seconds (Merc's official timing). Floor the accelerator and the torque steer is noticeable. On an open stretch of tarmac, it's easy to reach silly speeds before you look at the speedometer and realise how fast you're actually going.

The 7G-DCT dual clutch gearbox has 3 driving modes to choose from - E (Economy), S (Sports) and M (Manual). The default driving mode is 'E' and you can toggle between 'S' and 'M' via a button on the center console. You also get an additional "Economy" button on the dash for the start/stop system. In 'E' mode, the gearbox quickly shifts up to the highest ratio possible. Don't be surprised to see 7th gear at merely 80 kmph if driven with a light foot. This works fine when driving sedately. When you suddenly need to close that gap in traffic, the gearbox has to drop a gear or two, which ends up taking too much time. This was especially true when climbing up the hills from Chandigarh to Shimla. The gearbox would upshift to 3rd or 4th gear when I slowed down for a corner and, when exiting out, there was a delay in getting the power down as two downshifts were required (for 2nd gear). Of course, you can use the paddle-shifts to downshift just before overtaking. The disadvantage with using the paddle shifters is that the transmission automatically goes back to 'E' mode after a few seconds of using the paddles.

'S' (Sports) mode does a far better job of holding onto lower gears. Still, in this mode too, the gearbox is tuned on the conservative side. As long as you are pressing the accelerator, the transmission won't upshift. It will try to hold onto the lower gear. However, the minute your right foot is off the pedal, the gearbox thinks it's ok to upshift. 'S' mode works fine when you need outright acceleration as it's usually in the meat of the powerband, but not when you drive aggressively with varying throttle inputs. Similar to what I mentioned in 'E' mode, when driving uphill, the gearbox will upshift to a higher gear as soon as you lift off (e.g. to brake for a corner). When you accelerate out of the turn, it will again downshift. This really slows down progress and the constant upshifting / downshifting can get annoying if you're in the mood for some fun. You can get around the problem by using the paddle-shifters here also, albeit it’s not as much fun as a true manual gearbox. Or for that matter, the VW DSG too.

For drivers like us, there is an 'M' (Manual) mode provided. Like most auto gearboxes these days, 'M' mode will automatically upshift close to the redline and automatically downshift if the rpm needle drops too low. I found this to be the best mode when driving up the ghats, as it was up to me to remain in a lower gear (vis a vis the tranny upshifting unnecessarily). Although 'M' mode is completely manual, there was an odd delay I observed in putting the power down after a downshift. Once past this delay, the sweet turbo-petrol engine pushes you back into the seat and punches ahead. This is where the fun truly begins. The trick is to downshift when braking, let the gearbox match the revs and then power out of corners till you hit the redline & upshift...only to repeat the procedure for the next corner .

Overall, the 7G-DCT is a gearbox that is set up more for a smooth, sedate driving style. It doesn't like to be hustled and there's always a slight delay in downshifts. The shift quality is extremely smooth, irrespective of rpms. But it's not as quick as I would have liked in the area of downshifts. In terms of responsiveness, VW's DSG unit comes out on top. There is no doubt that the potent petrol engine masks the laid-back nature of the gearbox. In real world driving, it's a silky smooth transmission.

The Diesel Engine:

The diesel engine bay has a different plastic shroud and additional plumbing visible:

Under the hood of the diesel GLA-Class is the familiar OM651 motor with a displacement of 2,143cc. This is the same engine that powers the A, B, C, E and ML-Class. The engine is labelled as the 250 CDI in the ML & E-Class, 220 CDI in the C-Class, 200 CDI in the GLA and 180 CDI in the A/B Class. The engine produces 107 BHP in the A/B-Class, going up to 201 BHP in the larger cars. For the GLA, it's somewhere in between with 134 BHP and 300 Nm torque (1,600 - 3,000 rpm). We know the motor is capable of far better numbers, thus it's quite disappointing that Mercedes opted for the 200 CDI tune rather than the 220 CDI version available internationally. The 220 CDI with 168 BHP & 350 Nm torque would have been ideal. As things stand today, the GLA diesel loses out to the X1 and Q3. It's a good 40 BHP down on the Bimmer and Audi.

If the numbers looked mediocre on paper, well, it's the same on the road. I got to the diesel after driving the petrol. The CDI loses out on the responsiveness & urgency of the turbo-petrol. The throttle is lazier, and there is some lag present at lower rpms. Performance is obviously adequate for the daily commute and will serve most purposes. But don't you expect something special after spending 35 lakhs? There will be driving conditions where you wish the engine had more horses on tap.

In the city, the large displacement engine with 300 Nm torque does a good job of delivering brisk performance. You can keep the gearbox in 'E' mode and drive around town sedately, without feeling any deficit in power. Thanks to the smooth shifting 7G-DCT and good NVH levels inside the cabin, the GLA diesel is suitable for calm cruising in the city as well as highway. It's no road-burner though and enthusiasts should look elsewhere. Power is adequate, not explosive. The 0-100 kmph run takes 9.9s, that's slower than the petrol by 2.3s! Mercedes have clearly targeted performance with the petrol and efficiency with the diesel. The GLA CDI delivers ARAI numbers of 17.9 kmpl (petrol = 13.8 kmpl).

Similar to the petrol, the dual-clutch gearbox is slow to respond & lazy when downshifting. This laziness - coupled with the lower output of the diesel - diminishes the fun-to-drive factor. The diesel is the exact opposite of the punchy petrol. On the climb to Shimla where I was enjoying the petrol engine in manual mode, I left the diesel in 'S' mode and drove more sedately. With the petrol, I could approach a sharp bend in 2nd gear and punch the throttle on the way out. In the diesel, 2nd was too low a gear for that speed and 3rd would mean the turbo is still spooling up. As a result, I left the gearbox in 'S' mode and let the car accelerate out smoothly instead. This is the best way to drive the diesel GLA.

Ride & Handling:

Thanks to the light steering, high seating position and smooth automatic gearbox, the GLA is easy to manoeuvre in urban India. Visibility is good all around, although you need to be careful with the width of the car. It feels compact, yes, but this is a wide crossover. Thankfully, both ORVMs are convex (rare for a Mercedes) and they have a blind spot region at the outer edge as well. An added benefit is the super convenient 'brake hold' function. After rolling to a stop at a traffic light, just press the brake pedal once and it will activate the 'HOLD' feature. You no longer have to keep the brake pedal pressed to hold the car stationary. As soon as you press the accelerator, the hold feature deactivates. Obviously, being a dual-clutch gearbox, it's preferred to keep it in 'P' when stationary for a long time. Slotting in 'P' involves a mere click of the button on the edge of the gear stalk.

The biggest boon on poor / broken roads is the 183 mm of ground clearance. India is currently the only country where the GLA gets this high GC rating. The suspension changes have been done in-house by Mercedes' Indian R&D center. Engineers have also recalibrated the steering to account for the increased ride height. This has two benefits: Firstly, the stance of the car improves. Internationally, the GLA looks very hatch-like due to the lower 170 mm clearance. The Indian version with the standard 18" wheels and extra gap in the wheel wells has a more SUV'ish stance. Secondly, you don't have to worry about driving in cities like Bangalore with moon craters and speed breakers. You can even drive the GLA over some beaten tracks as seen in the pictures.

Unlike the stiff A-Class which makes you screen the road cautiously, the GLA-Class allows you to drive without worrying. Yes, it's still set up on the stiffer side, yet the suspension is noticeably more pliant. The GLA is not as harsh as the A-Class or the bone-jarring BMW X1. Still, sharp bumps will filter through the cabin. Ride quality is more liveable than the A-Class; it's far from plush though. If you hit a bad patch of road and don't slow down, the suspension starts feeling slightly skittish. The underlying stiffness is probably from the low profile 235/50 tyres on huge 18” wheels than the suspension itself. This rim & tyre size could further be responsible for the GLA-Class' tendency to tramline (related thread). Highway stability at any speed is typical Mercedes. Even at high triple digit speeds, this baby Merc remains planted & composed, making it an excellent cruiser. The only time you feel the adverse effect of the raised suspension is when you push her hard through corners. The increased height is felt with some amount of body roll when you lean into a curve. It's not a bother under most driving scenarios, although the roll is noticeably more than the A-Class. For all practical purposes, the handling is more like a European sedan than a crossover. I must say that understeer is superbly controlled for a front wheel drive vehicle. I tried going into turns faster than required; not once did the ESP interfere nor did the car run wide. Even when braking aggressively into a corner and accelerating out, the GLA-Class was composed. Must note that the diesel's suspension felt a little softer than the petrol. Can't say for sure whether there is a difference in the suspension tune, as the petrol's tyres were pumped 3 PSI higher. Also, the diesel felt front heavier under hard cornering.

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.

As is the case with all Mercs, the brakes are brilliant. All-round discs, ABS, EBD and a laundry list of electronics ensure that you stop without drama. Pedal feel is on the sharper side and it takes a few minutes of getting used to. Once you've adjusted, the sharp brakes will be appreciated.

Underbody protection is good for a softroader. There's a sump guard and skid plates for the fuel tank:

The exhaust end can is surprisingly big. Notice the aluminum suspension arms:

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2014 at 18:36.
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Old 16th November 2014, 18:22   #7
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Default re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Other Points:

• Since the GLA gets upgraded engines (vis a vis the A & B-Class), we asked Mercedes if these updated motors would make it to the A & B-Class any time soon. Even though Mercedes refused to comment, it could be a possibility as the A & B-Class have mediocre engines at present.

• Mercedes has launched the crazy AMG version, the GLA45 AMG @ Rs. 69.60 lakhs. Related thread.

• Available in 4 colours: white, red, silver and brown. Brown gets the beige interior scheme, whereas the others get black on the inside.

• The ECO mode (start/stop system) comes back automatically every time you start the car, even if you switched it off earlier!

• The sunroof shuts on its own if it senses rain.

• While the suspension changes for the 183 mm GC are India-specific, this could be available in other countries as a 'rough road' package.

• Official accessories include an iPad docking station for rear seat occupants, bicycle rack, illuminated star on the front grill and optional 19" alloy wheels. We don't recommend the 19" rims for India. In fact, Mercedes probably pushed it too far with the 18s. 17" wheels would've brought a better ride, 16s more so (due to taller tyre sidewalls).

• The GLA is equipped with 'Mercedes Rescue Assist' which uses QR codes for helping rescue personnel with vehicle details. Here's a cool video on how it works:

• The next MFA-platform car to be launched in India will be the CLA.

• The GLA 4MATIC (AWD) is expected sometime next year.

• The size of the space saver spare is 135/90 R17.

• Disclaimer: Mercedes-Benz invited Team-BHP for the GLA test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2014 at 18:37.
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The Smaller yet Significant Things:

Reversing camera pops out only when engaging reverse gear. This way, the camera lens never gets dirty:

A few pictures of the black interiors. While the beige makes the cabin feel airier, it's the black that I prefer:

Notice that the roof lining is all black. This was only for the silver petrol GLA (diesel had grey):

Illuminated door sills at the front:

Another look at the paddle shifter:

Sure took me a while to figure out where the bonnet release latch is:

A close look at the cruise control stalk:

7 airbags, including this knee airbag for the driver:

The front seat airbags:

I like the old style door locks. I remember these from the W124 E200 that I had in Singapore:

Adjustable neck restraints that tilt forward:

Vanity mirrors get roof-mounted lights that turn on when you flip the lid open:

Rear visibility is poor due to a small rear windscreen and thick C-Pillars. You need to rely on the reversing camera for parking:

Ambient lighting on the doorpads as well:

Rear armrest has pop-out cupholders:

Along with the first-aid kit in the boot, there are loose wires and a (freely hanging) reverse parking buzzer. This looks awfully out of place in a Mercedes:

Mercedes-Benz engraved on the headlamps shows the sheer attention to detail:

Rear tail-lamps are LEDs:

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2014 at 18:38.
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Old 17th November 2014, 08:52   #9
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Default Re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing.

Rating review a well-deserved 5 stars!
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Old 17th November 2014, 09:50   #10
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Default Re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Thanks for the Brilliantly Detailed Review Vid!

I checked out the GLA at a local Merc dealer last week. While it looked appealing and Interiors were good too and the car overall had the feel good factor about it but it has major turn offs(atleast for me).

Firstly the Pricing is on higher side, i do not see it offering anything significant over the rivals to deserve this kind of premium pricing. Except for looking good, it does not offer anything significantly better than either BMW X1 or Audi Q3, while X1 on one end is sharper to Drive with a better 20d Engine mated to ZF8 transmission and Rear wheel drive layout, Q3 AWD on the other end is my pick for the decent GC and go anywhere ability(for a Crossover). The detuned engines available in only 2WD layout that too Fwd, along with new to the market DSG, make it unappealing to me. They might get the AWD versions later but how much do they plan to cost them- 50L? This car might be good enough for posers, nothing substantial for a Mercedes crossover, they are diluting the brand now with cars like A,B, CLA and GLA class.
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Old 17th November 2014, 10:32   #11
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Default Re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Originally Posted by .anshuman View Post
This car might be good enough for posers, nothing substantial for a Mercedes crossover, they are diluting the brand now with cars like A,B, CLA and GLA class.
I completely agree with you. I also hear the engines are sourced from Renault for the smaller Mercs. Is that true?
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Old 17th November 2014, 10:39   #12
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Default Re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Originally Posted by KrishD View Post
I completely agree with you. I also hear the engines are sourced from Renault for the smaller Mercs. Is that true?
Not for the Mercs sold in India. The base model diesels in other countries does indeed come with the famous K9K 1.5Dci engine from Renault. Same as the one in duster and other Renault Nissan cars in India. Luckily these are not there in India.
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Old 17th November 2014, 10:43   #13
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Default Re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Originally Posted by KrishD View Post
I completely agree with you. I also hear the engines are sourced from Renault for the smaller Mercs. Is that true?
For the other markets, yes they have Renault sourced smaller engines, for India they are using the existing Mercedes engines.

2.1 OM651 Diesel is anyways an ageing engine, it no longer has the refinement advantage. Now that even BMW has replaced the 20d engine with a new engine of the same size(done for X3 20d, pending for others), it's time Mercedes should get a newer more modern unit.

The 7G tronic gearbox and the dated OM651 engine are the only weak links in soon to be launched new C class.
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Old 17th November 2014, 10:59   #14
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Default Re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Brilliantly detailed review Vid. This is "THE" review for the GLA in India.

I had the chance to drive the petrol GLA and found it to be great in Delhi. The diesel was a disappointment. This is when we were extensively test driving for a new car in the immediate family. Ultimately my uncle picked up an Audi Q3 becase the drive in the diesel was far superior. According to him, GLA didnt offer anything apart from the stunning looks. The rear legroom and headroom (he wears a turban) were much better (although not significantly in my opinion) in the Q3.

I do wish the DCT on the Merc was a bit more active. The pricing is certainly on a higher side. If (and when) these engines make way to the A and B Class, the B Class might actually eat into the sales of the GLA because of the sheer amount of space it has to offer and would be almost 7 lacs cheaper.

Bought at 33 lacs on road in February 2014, my C200 seems like a bargain right now! But then i am comparing two different segments.

What i would like from the GLA/A/B are the paddles! The steering wheel is the same as the C.

And Vid, just one thing: Convex mirrors have been on the Mercs for a while now!

Thank you for the brilliant review once again.
Originally Posted by .anshuman View Post

The 7G tronic gearbox and the dated OM651 engine are the only weak links in soon to be launched new C class.
Dont forget the price Anshuman. I hear it will be upward of 45 lacs on road. The W204 CDI is 44 lacs on road in Delhi before discounts.


Last edited by RohanDheman : 17th November 2014 at 11:14. Reason: spacing and additional info
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Old 17th November 2014, 11:59   #15
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Default Re: Mercedes GLA-Class : Official Review

Firstly, an excellent and as comprehensive a review as it could have been.
and Secondly, the review has been compiled in Shimla (or let me say Mashobra Heli-pad).
What could be more satisfying than seeing Team BHP going for a car review to your home town.
Some of the pictures have been so very well captured that they took me back home.
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