BMW X1 2012 review: snapshot
The first time I laid eyes on this car I thought they'd got it wrong. It's not the first of their...
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Describing a car as a "track shoe" is a different approach, to say the least, but that’s how Mercedes-Benz likes to refer to its new multi-purpose GLA compact SUV. It’s a fairly apt moniker for the new Benz in-betweenie which could accurately be classed as a wagon (on stilts) or an SUV.
Whatever, GLA is the fourth model built on the new generation MFA small car platform from Benz that already underpins the A-Class hatch, CLA sedan and B-Class people mover.
The all-four-cylinder GLA range is due to make an appearance here in April at a starting price of $47,900 for the front drive 2.2-litre GLA200 CDI diesel. It achieves 100kw/300Nm and a stunning 4.3-litres/100km economy.
Following the 200CDI a little later are the $57,900 GLA250 powered by a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder petrol four with up to 165kW/350Nm output and 4-Matic all-wheel drive and finally, the overarching GLA45AMG with a hand built 265kW/450Nm petrol turbo It will go for $79,900 or a few grand more than the equivalent A45 and CLA45 models with which it shares underpinnings.
All models have eco stop and start and comply with Euro 6 emissions regulations. We will get a range of suspensions – Comfort, Sport and Off Road. Two model dependent steering systems provide additional feel and precision in GLA. All 4-Matic variants have downhill speed assist and an off-road transmission mode should it be required.
The 'entry' car comes generously equipped with a seven speed dual clutch auto as standard. A host of driver assistance and safety equipment includes as standard; attention assist, collision prevention assist, adaptive brake assist and other handy stuff. Much more is optionally available but up to the minute multi-media connectivity technology is standard. A power tailgate is standard across the range.
Off road drive mode is standard on the 250, but there are four option packages that can bring some level of off-road capability to the GLA200. Additional driver assistance features are available except for the GLA45 AMG car which has the full kit and caboodle.Additional chassis strengthening on GLA is for potentially more arduous driving conditions that may be encountered by more intrepid owners.An AMG pack on some models brings sharper dynamics, bigger wheels and firmer sport suspension.
GLA weighs the same as the CLA sedan – about 30kg more than the A-Class hatch.But it looks nothing like any of the other vehicles spun off the new platform.
There is a chunky, muscular crouch to its appearance accentuated by pumped out guards and either a one or two bar grille depending on the model.
It is pleasing from the front and intimidating from the rear particularly with the AMG body pack added.
The interior is a variation on what has come before in the A-Class and CLA – big round air vents, stitched dash, classic two dial instrument pod, big info screen in the middle.
It’s a five seater with plenty of luggage space expandable with the rear pews folded. Comfort is further aided by sound and vibration reduction measures and the higher roof compared with other variants. GLA cuts the air at a creditable 0.29Cd despite having a high stance.
We sampled all three variants -- the 200CDI, 250 and 45AMG, enjoying all of them in varied driving environments. The focus rests with the potent AMG car, complete with its whip cracking exhaust sound and sensational acceleration -- rated around 4.7-seconds for the 0-100kmh sprint. But the other two were equally satisfying to drive in their own way, particularly the 250.
We crossed high mountain ranges in the sun and the rain, blasted at high speed along Spain’s Autovia network and even toddled along some fairly demanding off road tracks in the diesel with off-road pack.
The GLA sits solidly on the road and various electronic and mechanical systems ensure it stays that way. The mid-range 250 is the one that gets the silverware from our point of view with its intoxicating mix of performance, style, handling and comfort at a much more affordable price than the AMG car.
But all three can cover-off city commuting, weekend warrior work and family wagon duties with ease. They’re easy to park, good looking, economical, great to drive and feature rich.
|GLA250 4MATIC||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$32,200 – 42,990||2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class 2014 GLA250 4MATIC Pricing and Specs|
|GLA45 AMG 4MATIC||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$41,990 – 49,990||2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class 2014 GLA45 AMG 4MATIC Pricing and Specs|
|GLA200 CDI||2.1L, Diesel, 7 SP AUTO||$26,000 – 39,900||2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class 2014 GLA200 CDI Pricing and Specs|
“Couldn’t fault the GLA really. Be happy with any of them in the drive. Big tick.”