|Mercedes tweaked the GLA’s styling for 2018, making it look better than ever. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The three-pointed star brand has steadily grown its SUV lineup since then, adding the seven-occupant GL-Class in 2006, now named GLS, the GLK in 2008, now replaced by the entirely new GLC, and more recently this GLA-Class in 2014. The following year Mercedes expanded its GLE-Class lineup by adding a sportier Coupe variant, which was followed up last year by the GLC-Class Coupe.
The last two models have more in common with the GLA than any of the others on that long list. No doubt
|The GLA’s general shape is the same, but many details have changed. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
While interesting from a curiosity standpoint, I’d be quite content with a GLA, and it doesn’t have to be the outrageously quick 375 horsepower GLA 45 AMG 4Matic that I drove last year either, as the 2018 GLA 250 4Matic I took a turn in a couple of weeks ago would fit into my lifestyle just fine.
|The new LED taillights and reshaped bumper look fabulous. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
With respect to styling, the 2018 GLA gets a more intricately detailed two-slat grille that’s tied more directly to its larger SUV siblings, while a new lower fascia adds standard fog lamps with chrome bezels or sportier matte black straked corner vents with the as-tested Sport package, and either a much more pronounced matte silver chrome lower grille surround at centre in the base model or a more subtle bright chromed metal undertray with the Sport package-although I can’t decide which looks sportier.
|The beautifully detailed dual-slat grille is tied more closely with the rest of Mercedes’ SUV lineup. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Inside, Mercedes has installed a modified primary gauge cluster with a restyled backplate and new silver and red metal needles, plus they’ve changed up the steering
|LED headlamps are now available through the Premium package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Speaking of safety, I find it odd that BMW’s competitive X1 is the only premium branded “Small SUV” to achieve IIHS Top Safety Pick status, let alone the U.S. government agency’s most coveted Top Safety Pick Plus award, yet there’s a long list of mainstream volume winners from Fiat’s similarly subcompact 500X and Mazda’s
|The Sport package replaces the base model’s chrome bezeled fog lamps with matte black straked covers. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Even Lincoln has three TSP/TSP+ earning models, and it’s barely a premium brand with a scant number of models, whereas Acura and BMW have four apiece, Audi, Lexus and Volvo have five each, as does Mazda in the mainstream sector, this number of TSP/TSP+ models built upon by Hyundai, Nissan and Subaru with six individually, Honda, Kia and Volkswagen with seven each, and Toyota with nine. Still, plenty of brands have fewer IIHS
|These 19-inch multi-spoke rims are exclusive to the Sport package. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
IIHS issues aside, the standard GLA 250 4Matic is plenty safe with no shortage of active and passive safety features including anti-fatigue Attention Assist, active brake assist, adaptive braking with hold function, hill start assist, an ultra-rigid body structure with crash mitigating crumple zones, plus the usual traction and stability control and advanced braking technologies, as well as eight airbags including two for front occupants’ knees. So consider the GLA plenty safe despite missing some of the latest electronic semi-autonomous accident avoidance equipment.
I suppose this is as good a time as any to point out some key standard features and
|A glossy black rooftop is the key giveaway to a double-pane panoramic moonroof hiding below. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The $38,500 GLA 250 4Matic can be had with a $2,200 Premium package that previously
|Sporty LED taillights make the new 2018 GLA easy to spot from behind. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
After first adding the Premium package you can top it up with the $2,000 Premium Plus package that features proximity-sensing keyless access, power-folding side mirrors, a powered front passenger seat, auto-dimming rearview and driver’s side mirrors, ambient interior lighting, a garage door opener, and a foot-activated powered tailgate.
|Sport package adds chrome metal to the redesigned bumper cap. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Of note, if you choose not to go with the Sport package you can get an even sportier set of twinned five-spoke 19-inch alloys for $700, while other standalone options include a $1,480 powered panoramic sunroof, a $1,100 navigation system with mobile internet and MB apps, a $1,000 12-speaker 450-watt Harman/Kardon Logic7 5.1 surround sound audio system, $475 satellite radio, a $350 storage package, $900 semi-autonomous self parking, the aforementioned 360-degree parking camera, and plenty of individual features that otherwise come in packages.
|The 2018 GLA’s interior should look familiar, but many changes are incorporated. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Behind that stylish new grille is the same powertrain as last year’s GLA 250 4Matic, Mercedes’ tried and tested 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder making a satisfying if not stimulating 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. I suppose I’m a bit jaded after being slapped in the back by the GLA 45 AMG’s previously noted punch off the line, and of course that powertrain is always available for thrill-seekers, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this review I was quite content with this base engine. It helps that Mercedes hooked it up to its very fast-reacting yet adequately smooth 7G DCT dual-clutch automated transmission with paddle shifters, a gearbox that makes the most of the performance at hand, evidenced by the SUV’s speedy
|Subtle updates modernize the refreshed GLA’s primary instrument cluster. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Mercedes includes standard regenerative braking and auto start/stop to reduce consumption and emissions, the latter capable of shutting the engine off when it would otherwise be idling if you leave it engaged, while standard Dynamic Select includes an Eco drive mode that retards throttle response, lulls shift points and maintains the Comfort mode’s easy power steering effort to further improve economy and air cleanliness.
|The tablet-style fixed infotainment display includes a standard parking camera for 2018. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Rotating infotainment controller looks nice, but is a bit rudimentary for this class. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
As you might expect, the cabin was plenty quiet as well, partly due to a sleek 0.32 coefficient of drag as well as properly sealed doors, windows, sunroof, and rear hatch, not to mention lots of hidden sound insulation. I imagine the GLA’s high-quality soft-touch dash top, front and rear door panels, and soft-painted harder plastics below the metal inlays on the instrument panel reduce noise as well, while they look and feel nicer than hard composites would. Only the door speaker grilles and pocket inserts were harder plastics, which is pretty impressive for this subcompact SUV class. The aforementioned metallic trim is over the top, mind you, especially those gorgeous dash vents.
|The front seats are wonderfully supportive and plenty comfortable. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Rear seating comes up short if your kids or parents are tall. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The cargo compartment offers hidden storage underneath the load floor, and the 60/40
|Cargo space isn’t class leading, but it should be sizeable enough for most. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Overall, the updated 2018 GLA 250 4Matic does a great deal more than merely take care of its owner’s needs. Rather, it combines all the utility a subcompact SUV should, with an ideal blend of style, sportiness, efficiency, refinement, and features, all for undeniably good value. No wonder it’s so popular amongst entry-level premium buyers.
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