For the longest time in history, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class often played the role of being anyone’s first Mercedes-Benz. However, times and consumer preferences have changed. We live in a world where anything with high ground clearance and a bit of body cladding becomes an instant sales success. There are more SUVs and crossovers than ever before, both small and big. Answering this insatiable demand for high-riding vehicles is the Mercedes-Benz GLA, which first came out in 2013. Seven years later and with more than 1 million units sold, how does the second-generation GLA fare? Let’s find out by taking a look at this Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 AMG Line variant.
When you first look at the car, the Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 AMG Line catches you with its smooth and flowing lines. It also doesn’t bore you because of the neat details that give it a sporty flair without breaking its elegance thanks to the AMG Line touches. The 19-inch AMG wheels fit nicely and give the car a subtly aggressive look and stance despite the overall size of the vehicle.
The sporty looks don’t end outside–it carries over when you step into the car. The carbon trim and red stitching is not excessive and goes perfectly with the AMG steering wheel. Sitting in the driver’s seat, there are really no-frills as the fully digital instrument cluster is very clean, clear and simple. The instrument cluster works hand in hand with the new MBUX infotainment system which has various input methods, either through the touch screen, steering wheel touchpad, or the center console touchpad.
Additionally, MBUX comes with a virtual assistant that can be called upon by saying “Hey Mercedes!” and then followed up by a conversational command such as “Set temperature to…” to heat up or cool down the cabin temperature. Although useful and allows you to keep both hands on the steering wheel, there is a bit of a delay in the execution of your verbal commands which can be frustrating at times as you would much rather manually execute the command rather than wait. Also, being a European brand, the virtual assistant may have a hard time understanding commands if it isn’t said in a specific way. In addition, the touchpad where the gearstick used to be seems a bit redundant since the majority of MBUX’s functions can be accessed via the controls on the steering wheel or the touch screen. Fortunately, the sound system is very good and provides one with quite an immersive experience when playing your favorite Spotify playlist.
The seats are a little on the stiff side and are not the most comfortable seats out there but the added feature of the Comfort Seat Kinetics is a nice touch. The memory function of the seat is also a welcome feature too. If you recall how the car looks from the outside, you may be surprised how much space and legroom you get. It really is a lot more spacious than its exterior gives it credit for. It might be a small detail but I was pleased with the ample space in the glove box as well as the center console storage area.
The driver’s side seat controls offer great control over the comfort and position of your seat but I do wish the passenger seat was just as friendly in terms of controls and adjustments. The rear seats may be a bit tight but manageable for the average Filipino. It also boasts quite a generous boot space even before you fold the rear seats down. One wouldn’t have been able to guess that by looking at it from the outside. I guess the saying of not judging a book by its cover holds true with this car.
The lack of folding side mirrors (be it automatic when locking and unlocking the car or via a button on the door control panel), as well as no smart entry and no power liftgate, are quite disappointing as these features are almost standard in a majority of vehicles even outside of the luxury market. Self-parking is a cool feature to throw in and it does work well when in the right conditions. The proximity sensors located around the car are also quite useful but best turned off when in traffic as they are very sensitive and can easily be triggered given our local driving and traffic conditions. Again, since this car is European, the Air Recirculation must constantly be monitored as it set to off as a standard and sometimes switches off even after you’ve turned it on. You could as the virtual assistant to turn it on for you if you have the time and the patience or just reach out to the switch yourself.
But for all that it lacks, it definitely makes up for in driving experience. On paper, the 1.3-liter, 4-cylinder engine may sound a bit small but the 163 hp and 250 Nm of torque paired with its smooth 7-speed dual-clutch transmission system are more than enough to give you smiles per gallon. 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. In addition, fuel economy is pretty good too, averaging at around 8 to 10.5 km/l depending on the traffic conditions.
For those who want something fun, quite practical, and sportily luxurious, the Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 AMG Line is worth considering. This GLA 200 AMG Line that we have here is also competitively priced at P3,290,000.
Pricing and Rating
Exterior Design: ★★★★★
Interior Design: ★★★★★
Space and Practicality: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★★
Value For Money: ★★★★☆
Overall: 4.3 out of 5
*Pricing is correct and accurate as of this article’s time of writing.