Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: February 16, 2018
The chic hatchback from Mercedes-Benz gets a mid-cycle refresh for the 2018 model year. While the revisions are mostly aesthetic, they amalgamate into a subtle yet tasteful transformation of the GLA. These include new optional LED headlights and taillights, a restyled front and rear bumper, and a grill with rectangular slats similar to the one used in the GLS-Class. The GLA also receives a new wheel design, a larger 8.0-inch infotainment screen, black-faced instrument gauges, and interior trims.
The GLA learns a new trick in the book as well, with a power liftgate that can be automatically raised up simply by kicking the air under the rear bumper - handy for when your hands are full of groceries. Android Auto joins the fray (previously missing) accompanying Apple CarPlay, and a rear view camera is now standard fare.
The rest of the GLA 250 remains unchanged, which is not a bad thing. Mercedes has been selling these hatchbacks like hot cakes, right left and center. But rather than the alluring sheetmetal, it was the powertrain that stood out to me most on my weeklong test. Under the hood of the GLA 250 is a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that pumps out 208 hp and a healthy 258 lb-ft of torque. That last figure is most impressive, delivering a wallop of low-end torque to get this mini-Benz flying and zipping through traffic in no time, lending a hand to a headstrong driving personality. Sure it has some expected turbo lag but it is never inhibitive, allowing the GLA to scamper from 0-100 km/h in a brisk 6.6 seconds.
A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission remains the sole option and shifts gears rather quickly, though you do get the occasional DCT hiccup and jerks at low speeds, and especially when switching gears from park into reverse and drive. A fine tradeoff for a performance hatchback but it is not as welcome in this application. The steering also leaves something to be desired, feeling disconnected at times even in Sport mode, and especially when accelerating and turning directions. Fling it hard into a corner and it feels like the wheel is being tugged away and is reluctant to grip hard.
The GLA 250 comes standard with the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system in Canada, which apportions 100% of power to the front wheels by default for better fuel efficiency, and can send up to 50% to the rear when required. Traction is excellent, though the GLA does feel a little top heavy around the bends, meaning it does not carry the same agility as it does in a straight line. Overall the ride is comfortable without too many vertical motions. Body roll is noticeable but it never vigorously forces you into the side bolsters.
The GLA 250 is not so much a crossover as it is a mildly lifted hatchback. The GLA does not sit noticeably any higher than your standard sedan, though the forward and higher seating position does lend to that illusion. The direct competition like the Lexus NX, BMW X1, and Range Rover Evoque all have higher ride heights. Mercedes did market the GLA with a more rugged appeal for 2018 though, including an “Off-Road” setting to the mix of selectable driving modes, but I am not sure how often that will really be utilized in this demographic. It sure gives you a confidence boost on back cottage roads, though. This Off-Road mode allows the 4MATIC system to modulate the brakes for optimal traction on both front and rear axles. There’s even a hill descent control feature to guide the GLA down a hill at a safe and preset speed.
The interior is a pleasant place to spend time in. The seats are supportive and the steering wheel design is stylish, though I would prefer a bit more colour to garnish up the bleak and bland aesthetics. The slightly larger 8.0-inch display is certainly a worthy upgrade, though I do not admire its pop-out screen integration method that most OEMs have been doing these days (Mazda, Honda, BMW) to save space. In my eyes it ruins the continuity of the dashboard. Look how Cadillac does it with theirs - the integration of the CUE screen into the dash is beautiful.
The myriad of three cupholders seems a little excessive for front passengers but they are all wide enough to hold your phone and wallet. Real estate in the center console is of high value of course and thanks to the relocation of the gear shifter to the steering column, the front cabin feels incredibly spacious and more inviting than other competitors like the Lexus NX and Audi Q3 with their cramped and busy layouts.
Again, the GLA was never the most spacious hatchback on the market, and it really shows when you try to sit in the back seats. Though not overly cramped, the seats are narrow and anyone over six feet tall might need to hunch their necks down a bit to fit under the headliner - especially if the sunroof is equipped, eating away at some precious headroom. This optional panoramic roof does assist in remedying the tight atmosphere back there, though. On the plus side, with the rear seats folded down, cargo room was more than impressive. After cleaning out my garage, I was able to fit two full sets of tires in there with an empty passenger seat to spare.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 may not be the most practical or the cheapest subcompact on the market with cramped rear seats and a steep starting price of $38,500 that quickly swells up with options, but this GLA-morous Mercedes certainly has chic appeal and is accompanied by a spritely powertrain and a premium badge. That should be enough for most young luxury-minded customers.
型号 Model: 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4MATIC
顏色 Paint Type: Mountain Grey ($890)
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $38,500
試車售價 Price as Tested: $46,970
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-4
最大馬力 Horsepower: 208 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 258 lb-ft @ 1,250 - 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 7-speed dual clutch transmission
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.1 / 7.6 / 9.0
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 10.1