Over the years, German luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz has been expanding its lineup to meet various needs and wants. As a brand that’s known to be very aspirational, having the ability to buy your first Mercedes-Benz is an occasion of its own. However, the automotive industry is rapidly changing, and this is especially notable with the surge in popularity of SUVs and crossovers. While the A-Class has mostly been everyone’s gateway to Mercedes-Benz ownership, the popularity of high-riding vehicles has pushed the brand to release this, the Mercedes-Benz GLA.
The Mercedes-Benz GLA made its global debut in 2013 as an answer to the growing demand for small SUVs. Since then, the GLA has become one of the primary choices for first-time Mercedes-Benz buyers. Now on its second generation, the GLA has evolved into something even more aspirational. It’s not just a sumptuous entry point to owning your first Mercedes-Benz, but it’s also the perfect first luxury SUV.
Luxury cars often make a statement the moment you look at them, and the Mercedes-Benz GLA has it in spades. From the bold grille, sleek LED headlights and taut lines, the GLA commands a lot of attention. It certainly helps that this GLA 200 we have here comes with the AMG Line package as standard, giving this posh small SUV a sporty stance. This is all thanks to its sportier front bumper, 19-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, and a slightly lower ride height without affecting ride quality.
There’s a saying that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and that statement also applies to cars. Indeed, the GLA does have a pretty outfit. Yet even when you judge how stylish the GLA’s exterior design is, you wouldn’t be wrong to say that the interior is just as pretty. As expected, the interior materials are top-notch, with high-quality soft-touch surfaces, aluminum trims, and carbon-effect patterns. The premium feel is backed by a stylish design that’s dominated by two 7-inch fully-digital displays.
Speaking of those digital displays, this is the perfect time to explain the GLA’s coolest party trick: the MBUX infotainment system. MBUX stands for Mercedes-Benz User Experience, which can be controlled through the touch screen, the steering wheel, or the touchpad at the center console. Freedom of control is MBUX’s name of the game, which is why apart from these physical controls, you can talk to the voice assistant by pressing a button on the steering wheel or by saying the magic word “Hey Mercedes”.
Once the system is summoned, all you have to do is talk to the voice assistant just like you would with a human being. For instance, you can say natural voice prompts such as “Hey Mercedes, I’m cold,” to increase the temperature. You could also ask the system to change the radio station or access various vehicle settings. Thanks to this voice assistant, drivers do not need to scroll through the interface to adjust various settings, making driving easier and distraction-free.
If you do prefer to dig into the MBUX interface, you’d be happy to know that whichever input you control it with, the menus are logically laid out and the operation of the system itself is never confusing. Of course, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are equipped as standard in this infotainment system.
Another key feature unique to the Mercedes-Benz GLA is its Seat Kinetics feature. This system basically does minor adjustments to the power-adjustable driver’s seat with memory in order to avoid fatigue when driving for long distances. In addition, the space inside the GLA is pretty good considering its size. In addition, the trunk has a generous space of up to 495 liters with the rear seats up.
Powering this GLA 200 is a 1.3-liter inline-4 turbocharged gasoline engine that produces 163 hp and 250 Nm of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. While the powertrain itself is small, the advent of turbocharging made small, fuel-efficient engines just as powerful as bigger engines. As a matter of fact, zero to 100 kph is achieved in just 8.7 seconds.
Out in the open road, this Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 definitely impresses. Power delivery is there right where you need it, especially since there’s excellent pulling power in such a wide rev range. The 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is also pretty good, delivering quick and smooth shifts even in stop-and-go traffic. In addition, fuel economy is pretty good too, averaging at around 8 to 10.5 km/l depending on the traffic conditions.
Handling-wise, the GLA performs just as well. With the Dynamic Select driving selector, you get 3 modes: Eco, Comfort and Sport. Power is there when you need it, even in Eco or Comfort mode. But it really is a joy on Sport mode. The steering is light, nimble, and gives the driver good feedback. The responsive steering paired with the snappy and powerful braking system allows one to take corners with a smile of confidence.
While it’s certainly a good thing for a luxury SUV to satisfy one’s emotional needs, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to go that extra mile by adding a dose of sophisticated safety features to keep you out of harm’s way. Thankfully, the GLA keeps you safe with its Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function. This feature uses a front-facing radar to detect oncoming obstacles and vehicles–even ones that are coming from the side. It then applies the brakes if it senses that a collision is imminent. For added driver convenience, the GLA is also equipped with a semi-autonomous parking feature called Active Park Assist. This system assists the driver in parallel and perpendicular parking situations, and this works on top of the existing reverse camera.
Thanks to all these aforementioned innovative features, along with its exquisite exterior and interior styling, the Mercedes-Benz GLA is definitely a strong contender in the small luxury SUV segment. At P3,290,000, the Mercedes-Benz GLA isn’t just a sumptuous entry point to owning your first Mercedes-Benz. It’s simply the perfect first luxury SUV for anyone who wants a sip of the finer things in life.
This feature article was created in partnership with Mercedes-Benz Philippines.