The smallest SUV made by Mercedes-Benz packs a luxurious punch, and yet it misses out on certain features buyers may expect in a car that costs over Rs 40 lakh.
My neighbour, a proud owner of the Toyota Fortuner, gave me an interesting analogy when I offered him a quick ride on the new Mercedes-Benz GLA last week. “If my SUV is akin to a standard 5-BHK flat, this car (the GLA) feels like an ultra-luxurious 2-BHK apartment,” he said. The GLA is the smallest SUV made by Mercedes-Benz, but in its little cabin space it packs a luxurious punch. At the same time, it misses out on certain features that buyers may expect in a car that costs more than Rs 40 lakh. We recently drove it in and around Delhi.
Mercedes-Benz GLA Design
Unlike the previous generation GLA that looked like a ‘raised hatchback’, the new GLA appears more like an SUV—at least when looked at from the front and rear. The side profile, however, is still more hatchback-like.
Mercedes-Benz GLA Cabin
Space, both on front and rear seats, is very good. The boot space, however, is compromised by the spare tyre. Quality of plastics and fabric is top-notch. The huge interactive screen on the dashboard is a joy to operate, air vents look like jet engine turbines, and inside door handles look like pieces of art. And yet some features are missing (such as ventilated seats and rear-seat armrest, which even cars such as Hyundai Alcazar and Skoda Kushaq have).
Mercedes-Benz GLA Engines
The petrol is the 1,332cc (163 horsepower) engine mated to 7-speed DCT gearbox and the diesel is 1,950cc (190 horsepower) mated to 8-speed DCT. I drove the diesel (0-100 km/h in 7.3 seconds), and the claimed acceleration time of the petrol engine variant is good too (0-100 km/h in 8.7 seconds).
Mercedes-Benz GLA Ride
Ride and handling is good. One, minimal tyre or engine noise enters the cabin. Two, even on sharp turns the car doesn’t appear to lose its line and tyres just don’t seem to lose grip. Three, the view from the driver’s seat is good. Four, seats have such a design that you may not feel uncomfortable even on very long drives. However, on bad roads or loose gravel the ride appears to turn a bit rough.
Mercedes-Benz GLA Price
The GLA 200 petrol is priced Rs 43.6 lakh, the GLA 220d Rs 45.2 lakh and the GLA 220d 4M Rs 47.7 lakh, ex-showroom. It gets eight-year warranty on engine and transmission, in addition to three-year comprehensive warranty. The GLA, no matter which variant you choose, is expensive, as far as space per cubic feet is concerned. But it comes across as a better car as compared to the competition (Audi Q2), and even compared to the A-Class Limousine that slightly more affordable but appears to have a relatively cramped rear-seating area. As far as cars such as the Fortuner are concerned (which aren’t direct competitors), one can go back to the standard 5-BHK flat versus ultra-luxurious 2-BHK apartment analogy, and make an informed decision.
(For the record, the GLA costs about Rs 10 lakh more than the Fortuner; but no, these aren’t direct competitors of each other.)