No prizes for guessing that the GLA was a gamble for Mercedes Benz who generally love to play it safe with genres, a sedan is a sedan, a hatch is a hatch and, you guessed it, an SUV is an SUV. The GLA, however, which debuted in 2013 was a crossover with large tyres, a hatch-ish design and perhaps most uncharacteristically was also front wheel drive. Now while the design might have been the source of a lot of negative commentaries, the GLA was still a runaway success, beating out the other German confused .. erm .. crossover competition. 2016 saw Mercedes launch the 220d which was essentially the same car, with an all-wheel-drive system and a proper off-road mode. The message was loud and clear, this is not just some play in the mud crossover, but a proper overland vehicle that isn’t as bulky as your run of the mill seven-seater SUV. This car in the images, however, is the 220d with a minor nip and tuck, the 2017 facelift.
Now as far as facelifts go, the updates on the GLA are quite mild, not one set of casting has been changed, keeping the silhouette almost identical to the outgoing GLA. The most notable among the updates will probably be the new LED headlamps and the new grill which gets two perforated aluminium blades. The bumper also gets a slight cosmetic touch with added cladding. The 2017 GLA 220d gets new shoes in the form of five-spoke alloy wheels. The rear also gets a redesigned crystal-effect LED tail-lamps, and that’s about it for exterior changes. Which means the GLA still looks a lot like the A-class hatch which underpins the GLA. Overall, even though the GLA remains the same, in this new Gold theme, the GLA does manage to get quite a few double takes.
On the inside too changes have been kept to a minimum, Mercedes-Benz will sell you the GLA in two optional trims, the sail-patterned trim on the Sports Edition, and the black matrix on the style edition. The instrument cluster gets a refresh in the form of a new 11.6 cm MIDI (Multifunction Display), with the clocks in circular formats running placed parallel to each other. New on the inside is ambient lighting with 12 shades to choose from.The remaining equipment on the GLA is pretty much the same with bits like a large panoramic sunroof, attention assist, automatic hydraulic tailgates, an 8-inch infotainment system(that supports Apple Carplay and Android Auto) and power-adjust seats with memory functions.
For the most part, the seating is comfortable and not extravagant, the extendable thigh support on both front seats is a really welcome feature. Being based on the A-class’s platform and chassis does limit the space on the inside of the GLA for taller occupants but most Indian people should find themselves to be comfortable. A saving grace in this regards is the beige interiors and sunroof that keep the cabin airy and give it a roomier effect.
In terms of powertrain, the GLA is available with a 1,991cc petrol engine and the 2,143cc which will be available in two states of tune. The 220d that we have on test, has the higher state of tune putting out 170 hp and 350 Nm of torque compared to the 200ds 136hp and 300 Nm of torque. The higher output engine is also the only one to get the Mercedes-Benz 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The refinement of the engine isn’t top-notch and leaves room for improvement considering the 30 lakh plus price tag. The engine is quite audible at low revs, which becomes even more pronounced on cold start and gets more noticeable when you push the engine outside the range of its comfort zone. On the plus side, the GLA also gets a few new driving modes with an off-road and a customisable mode for user preferences. Now while the GLA is far from an SUV, it is still capable off-road and is best suited for longer overland drives with bad roads or short excursions off-road. To further enunciate that the GLA has also been given a proper off-road mode which controls the brakes and engine revs while descending on a slope, estimating the best speed at which to complete the ramp.
Overall, the GLA has been a great volume seller for Mercedes-Benz and will probably continue to be one, thanks to it’s very reasonable pricing and of course, the dimensions of a road car mated with a four-wheel drive system and some added ground clearance. The GLA in various flavours can be had for between 30.65 lakh to 36.75 lakh, depending on the engine and interior trim, but it does make a great value offering until Mercedes-Benz launch the new GLA with the refreshed platform and new E-Class sourced 2.0 litre diesel.