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      Mercedes GLA First Drive Review

      Santosh Nair

      Santosh Nair

      Why would I buy it?

      • Swift and usable performance
      • Dynamic road manners

      Why would I avoid it?

      • More expensive than rivals
      • Some equipment missing

      Engine and Performance

      Right Front Three Quarter

      Under the hood of the GLA 220d we’re driving here is a 2.0-litre diesel mill that uses an eight-speed twin-clutch automatic gearbox with 4MATIC to lay all of its 188bhp/400Nm on the road; the latter being from as low as 1,600rpm which improves drivability tremendously. On the whole, this engine is thoroughly refined and can be heard only when it goes about exploring the limits. As for the power delivery, there’s lots of grunt which allows for quick progress, be it in the city or out on the highway. Well, to give you some perspective, in the quickest preset mode (Sport), this Mercedes can hit 60/100kmph in a rather swift 3.26/7.22 seconds. Even our drivability tests of 20-80/40-100kmph, a test of overtaking capabilities, took just 4.20/5.44 seconds.

      Left Rear Three Quarter

      Obviously, the engine does a great job, however, its capable nature is also partially due to the splendid dual-clutch transmission whose eight gears are well spread across, to offer usable power wherever needed. Plus, just so that the user can systematically tap into the engine’s response depending on the situation, there are some driving modes too - Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual. Now, toggling between the first three allows for preset responses that range from mild to sporty. Nonetheless, in terms of efficiency, we noticed the system’s preference to upshift at around 2,000rpm unless pressed upon. The result? This GLA 220d returned a city/highway mileage of 15.14/19.38kmpl; a delight considering the soaring fuel prices off late.

      Ride Quality and Handling

      Front View

      Clad in 19-inch wheels, we didn’t expect this GLA to reflect the supple ride quality it showcased over the regular bumps and irregularities, be it inside the city or on the highway. Having said that though, the sharper bumps/potholes thud through into the cabin, but we wouldn’t deem that as a cause for concern. On the brighter side, the ground clearance made it possible to easily dodge the taller obstacles without breaking a sweat. Making things even better are the wide tyres, which along with the 4MATIC 4WD and optimum chassis balance, render this SUV nimble around the bends. And the brakes on this one too are nothing short of inspiring. On the whole, the dynamic traits coupled to the GLA’s compact dimensions and great visibility make for a rather easy car to live with.

      Comfort, Convenience, and Features


      Inside the new GLA, it’s certainly the stunning MBUX infotainment system with digital instrumentation coupled to the restyled turbine vents and pristine quality levels that make the dashboard and cabin look exceedingly brilliant. Plus, one can endlessly relish the premium materials and soft-touch trim. Sure, some may feel that the dark upholstery dims the cabin considerably, but frankly, it’s not something that the large panorama sunroof can’t make up for.


      As for the front seats, they’re spacious, generously padded for comfort, are electrically adjustable, and offer lots of support which includes manually operated under-thigh support. At the rear, the more upright roofline and added wheelbase liberate enough space even for tall occupants. And as such, it was already accommodating, to begin with. But as such, there’s no denying that the rear bench is best for two and thigh support could have been better.

      Second Row Seats

      Sadly, the spare wheel takes up a sizable share of the boot space which leaves it capable of swallowing much lesser than it ought to. Thankfully, if you aren’t seating three at the rear, the split-folding feature should cover up for some of what’s lost. In the features department, it gets two-zone automatic climate control, a panoramic sunroof, and a powered tailgate


      What’s more, it gets a 10.25-inch HD infotainment unit with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, wireless charging, an unending list of colours for the ambient lighting, and this AMG line also gets the open-pore walnut trim. All said and done, the GLA still lacks in certain places, like only C-type USB ports are offered, there aren’t any ventilated seats, and we feel that the addition of wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay would have been perfect.

      Safety Features

      Right Side View

      The safety suite on the GLA includes seven airbags, attention assist that detects/warns of driver drowsiness, driving modes, a three-point seat belt for the rear middle occupant, ISOFIX child seat mounts, tyre pressure monitoring, and sensor-based auto-braking. It also comes equipped with multi-beam LED headlamps, active bonnet for pedestrian safety, Pre-Safe and electronic stability program.


      Right Rear Three Quarter

      Yes, the GLA doesn’t really seem as sporty as it once did. Especially when you take into account its predecessor’s feverishly sloping Coupe-roofline. And like we’ve all come to see nowadays with next-gen models, it is larger with a bigger footprint too. We admit that it has, however, evolved into a more rounded product; one that’s more spacious and livable altogether. And there’s enough character too, owing to the tall shoulder and correspondingly mammoth wheel size.


      Right Rear Three Quarter

      Mercedes-Benz’s GLA is now a more rounded product. One with a stylish cabin that’s not only well-put-together, but is also spacious and comfortable, feels decidedly premium, is loaded to the teeth with the brand’s latest forms of technology, and is adequately dynamic in entirety. If we really had to crib, it would be about the price tag being slightly steeper than its competitors and the fact that it missed out on some features. Having said that, we believe that this entry-level high rider from Mercedes-Benz is indeed for those who truly appreciate good value from the three-pointed star brand.

      Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi

      Mercedes-Benz | GLA | Mercedes-Benz GLA