Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
AS the crossover vehicle format has gained increased traction in the market, automakers have continued to scramble to develop their own products in the niche. That premium manufacturer Mercedes-Benz releases the GLA is further testament to the robustness of market demand for a car that marries the tenets of SUVs and the sedan.
First launched in 2013 at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the car’s nomenclature suggests how it is classified by the Stuttgart-based car maker; the G stands for geländewagen (German for “off-road vehicle”) and the LA points to its affinity with the A-Class. The updated variant was unveiled globally last January at the Detroit Motor Show, and sports a slew of tweaks and options.
“The refreshed GLA comes with an extended range of engines, targeted visual accentuation in the interior and exterior design plus updated equipment lines. This sees the look of the compact SUV gaining considerably in presence, and the body impresses with a significantly more powerful design idiom,” said Mercedes-Benz Philippines in a statement.
Powered by a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine developing 381hp and 475Nm, the GLA 45 4MATIC variant boasts all-wheel drive with AMG’s performance 4MATIC gearbox. This supplies variable torque distribution. The GLA’s power plant is mated to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT seven-speed sports transmission.
Mercedes-Benz improves the styling on the new GLA, supplying it with updated light-alloy wheels, heftier bumpers, and a redesigned grille. The bi-xenon head lamps have now been swapped with LEDs, which are reported to boast “brilliant illumination” and “are characterized by a color temperature similar to daylight and relieve the strain on the eyes at night.” The new headlights also consume significantly less power — 60% lower than xenon and 70% less than halogen.
Among the exterior changes are the low A-pillar step with corresponding A-pillar geometry and aerodynamically optimized exterior mirror housings. Trims on the main floor, center section of the rear axle, and “aerodynamically optimized rear silencer with a connected diffuser improve the flow of air beneath the underbody.” In addition, an “elaborate roof spoiler lip, specially shaped tail lights plus discreet side rear spoilers also ensure that the air flow at the tail end is… optimal.” These changes have actually lessened the GLA’s coefficient of drag from 0.29 to 0.28.
The new Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC boasts a sharpened front section, with an apron given a more dynamic shape, new air intake grilles, and a splitter insert in silver chrome plus flics in high-gloss black. A twin louver on the radiator grille is now rendered in silver chrome, as are the inserts in the side sill panels. “As an additional option, a multi-spoke 20-inch light-alloy wheel is available for selection in two color variants: painted matte black with high-sheen rim flange or painted titanium gray with a high-sheen finish.”
The Smartphone Integration Package (available in select units) allows users to pair iOS and Android smart phones to the infotainment system — accessing interfaces, apps and voice recognition via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
In the area of safety, Mercedes-Benz supplements the GLA with Active Brake Assist as standard. The system warns the driver if the vehicle in front gets too close and, if required, delivers situation-appropriate braking force — particularly if the driver is reacting too late. Also standard is the Attention Assist system which detects “typical signs of drowsiness via the steering behavior and warns the driver about an impending microsleep.”
Another new feature in the GLA is the hands-free access to the rear boot. The tailgate can be opened and closed with a wave of a leg or foot at the back.
During the launch held at a Makati City mall, Mercedes-Benz Philippines also purveyed the positioning of the GLA as a vehicle for one who has, well, crossed over into adulthood. With the motto “grow up,” the GLA seeks to reflect the values that responsible and conscientious individuals must have. Clearly, it’s about the art of arrival.