Mercedes-Benz GLA 200
Mini SUVs are perfect for the urban male. More spacious than a hatch to lug all the friends around, more powerful than a sedan and with high ground clearance to ride over broken roads. What more can one ask for? Well, comfort for starts. Good looks. Bit of luxury pampering and features. So it’s not surprising that the entry luxury SUV space is a hotly contested one. Audi has its Q3, the BMW has the X1 and Volvo the V40 CrossCountry. Now Mercedes has brought its GLA-class you see in the pictures.
Mercedes has been making some truly stunning cars off late and the GLA is by far the best. Just look at it. The aggressive face, muscular haunches, wheel-well-filling tyres, tight flowing lines all over, there just isn’t a bad angle to the GLA. We do wish it was a bit taller, like the Q3, which looks like a proper SUV. The GLA ends up looking sorta like an estate car. On the upside, this low stance means that you don’t climb up, rather slide inside like a sedan.
Which brings us to the cabin. If you’re used to cheap, dull plastics of your daily drive like us, you’ll be surprised. Every surface in the cabin reeks of quality. The dashboard is similar to the A-class, though the two-tone black and beige of our test car were a bit too much for us. There’s an all black trim on offer thankfully. There’s leather upholstery and we must mention the comfy front seats. They adjust electrically for height and lumbar support and are very spacious. If only they turned around, we would have stolen them to replace the crappy office chairs we have to put up with.
Obviously, a great driving position is easy to find, and driving is where the GLA impresses. The petrol GLA 200 we drove comes with a 2.0-litre petrol motor producing 181bhp. It doesn’t sound much in a car that weighs a tonne and a half, but the 7-speed twin clutch automatic gearbox helps masks the bulk quite well. Plant your foot down and you’ll surprise most traffic light racer wannabes, especially if you engage the Sports mode. Press a button and the engine suddenly sounds eager and gears only shifting around the red line. It’s a lot of fun and you can hit speeds that are illegal in most parts of our country. Automatics though can’t match stick shifts for driving pleasure, but there are paddles behind the steering for enhanced driver involvement if you are so inclined.
Going fast, however, doesn’t count for nuts if the car can’t handle. Thankfully the GLA isn’t anything like an SUV in this regard. Which is not a bad thing since there is no four-wheel drive and that it’s not likely to see any off-roading. In fact, it handles like a typical front wheel drive car and maintains its line around a corner. The suspension is sportily set up which helps matters, making the GLA a decidedly sporty drive. But when the time comes to negotiate the craters masquerading as potholes on our roads, there will be a fair bit of cringing. Especially from the rear seat passengers. Of which there should only be two. Three average size adults will find things getting a bit intimate. Which would be a good thing if we were on a cover shoot with three girls. Not so much on the way to a weekend cricket game with the lads and kit in tow. The kit will spill into the cabin because the spare wheel takes up a big chunk of the boot.
This GLA 200 costs `36 lakh ex-showroom in Delhi and diesel is available at `32.75 lakh. What you get is a good looking five-seater with lots of equipment and sporty handling. We, on the other hand, are on our way to rob a bank so we can pay for the GLA 45 AMG, which is due soon.