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Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class


Range Rover Evoque

Summary

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

Apparently there is an ugly Kardashian, but you don’t care, or if you do, you shouldn’t, so let’s talk about the Hemsworth brothers instead. 

In any other family, Luke Hemsworth would probably be called handsome, if a little short. Unfortunately for him, standing next to Liam and the God who walks amongst us that is Chris (I had to interview him once, he really is dreamy), Luke looks like he’s barely keeping his chin above the water line at the shallow end of the gene pool.

The Mercedes-Benz SUV range has quite a variation of lookers in its family tree as well, but I would argue that the new, entry-level GLA is pretty much the Chris of the range, or at least the Liam. The unfortunate, slightly large-foreheaded GLB would obviously be the Luke.

The only problem with all this, of course, is that the car that originally gave birth to the GLA - the A-Class - is more attractive than all of them, and Craig  Hemsworth, sire of the family, doesn’t quite pull that off.

The point is that the new GLA is going to be even more popular than the original one, which sold a staggering one million units worldwide, because it is not only bigger and taller, but better looking, inside and out.

And let’s face it, no one is buying an urban SUV like this for the way it can climb a snow-covered alpine pass. Even all-wheel drive is optional.

But the GLA has this niche nailed, and the new one - thanks to its style, space and the effortless way it rides - is going to be an even bigger success.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Range Rover Evoque

The original Range Rover Evoque was a victory. It was the right car, in the right place, at the right time.

It was a small SUV dropped in an unprepared premium segment, it went on to become a design icon and subsequently Land Rover’s fastest-selling SUV.

As the years rolled on though, competitors caught up, and Land Rover launched its stunning Velar in the segment above. The unthinkable had happened. The Evoque looked dated.

At long last, Land Rover has launched the second-generation version. Can it replicate even a fraction of the success of the first? We drove it at its Australian launch to find out if it has what it takes.

Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.1L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

You can tell that this car is going to be a success just by looking at it. For a lot of people, to see one will be to want one, and when they sit in that hugely high driving position and gaze upon the future-fabulous interior they’ll be even more sold.

It’s fair to say the GLA 250 does everything well - aside from providing boot space - and with great comfort, and in terms of looks, inside and out, it reaches the level of outstanding.

Personally, I’d take the lower and sleeker A Class every time.

 


Range Rover Evoque7.8/10

The second-generation Range Rover Evoque is a lot of things. It’s stunning to look at, better to drive, more practical, and more luxurious than ever before.

While it’s also hugely expensive and has lost some of the charm that came with its once-small visage, it achieves something far more important for the Evoque name, and that’s keeping it relevant in an increasingly congested luxury space.

Do you think the second-generation Evoque has reclaimed its ‘design icon’ throne? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also check out Andrew Chesterton's thoughts from the Evoque's international launch.

Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel and meals provided.

Design

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class9/10

I have to say that it’s quite an effort for a car company to get me interested in the look of an SUV, but from its tough, bold and yet stylish grille to its taut back end and BMW-aping rear light cluster, the new GLA really is a looker.

I had the good fortune to bring our GLA 250 test vehicle home and park it right next to the previous model, in the same colour, thus properly ruining the day of one of my neighbours.

The growth in size is clear - the new car is 12cm taller, 30mm wider and has a 30mm-longer wheelbase, yet overall it is 14mm shorter, which makes it look neater as well as stronger - but it’s the little tucks and tweaks of design that have really improved the look. The rear-light cluster is worth mentioning again, as it's just so much nicer.

While the original GLA was simply a case of making an A Class on stilettos, its success has encouraged Benz to really pour some effort into its successor, and the result is clear. This thing is a real looker.

 


Range Rover Evoque9/10

Put simply – the Evoque has returned to put competitors back where they belong. It is truly stunning for an SUV. To my eyes, at least, it has dethroned the Volvo XC40 as the most attractive small SUV on the market.

Sure, it’s more Victoria Beckham than Bear Grylls, but the Range Rover brand has crept beyond upmarket from its hose-out interior roots – and the Evoque owns it.

Land Rover has managed to morph the seamless, slick lines of the Velar onto the Evoque's petite and chunky frame. Design touches like LED headlights (now standard), contrast bodypanels and flush doorhandles add to this car’s stunning visage as you get closer.

Still, it’s undeniably an Evoque and has held onto design pillars like the ‘high beltline’ that rides from the headlamps to the tail-lights and descending roofline.

Inside, the Evoque has also continued to push upmarket with leather-trimmed surfaces from the base S up. It still has the signature chunky door inserts with recessed handles and window/mirror controls and has lovely seats no matter the grade with a premium-feel raised centre console stack.

It’s also in the centre where the Evoque has gained the elegant ‘Touch Pro Duo’ set-up from its larger sibling the Velar, totally de-cluttering the space.

Smart design touches are abound with well-textured and hidden storage areas throughout.

It all looks incredible, but there are a few downsides worth noting. The Evoque now has the huge steering wheel from the rest of the Range Rover range, making the helm feel more cumbersome than it was in its predecessor, and the abundance of gloss surfaces results in a potentially glare-heavy and difficult to keep clean cabin.

Don’t like the cars in the pictures? No problems, Land Rover offers no less than 17 different interior trim packages with five different textured highlights and numerous headlinings and wheel trims for pretty much any taste.

Practicality

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

The main goal of the GLA’s new, more SUV-like shape, in practicality terms, seems to have been to lift the driver even further off the ground, because the command-seating position is obviously a big selling point for someone who finds the A Class too ground-hugging.

So, while some of that growth in height has been used to increase head room to the point where I could easily wear Abraham Lincoln’s hat while driving, much of it has gone to making the driving position a full 10cm higher than in the previous GLA (it’s also 14cm higher than in an A Class).

Personally, the height of the seat drove me slightly spare, and every time I got in I tried to lower it, only to find it doesn’t go any lower, but, tellingly, my wife - who is not far off being an elf - loved it.

What I did like was the back seat, which is truly voluminous. Through clever packaging, Benz has managed to liberate no less than 12cm of extra legroom back there, and I could properly stretch out. 

With its standard double-paned panoramic roof and huge windows (part of huge doors, which do come close to scraping on any gutter higher than a match box), it’s a very glassy interior indeed, and visibility is excellent. 

There are two cupholders between the front seats, and there’s storage for big bottles in each door. Oddment storage is plentiful, although they could have more if they did away with the now redundant mouse pad and the so-called “arm rest” behind that, which feels more like a gear-shift lever they forgot to remove when they put the shifting functions up on a column stalk.

There’s no need for the track pad any more because the giant and truly very lovely 10.25-inch touch screen does everything via touch, and sits next to another screen the same size that acts as your dash readout, making the whole thing look like a particularly long iPad.

While other car companies, including Audi, which has long been the winner in any interior-design conversation, are still just jamming big screens on top of dashboards, Benz has turned its entire dash into a digital display, and it looks amazing, and futuristic. Like a concept car you can actually buy.

The overall feeling of quality and tech - particularly at night when it all lights up beautifully in a colour of your choosing - in this alluring interior is one of the main reasons buyers will flock to the new GLA.

The seats are not as sporty as some, but they’re comfortable enough.

The one letdown, however, which comes as a shock with all that space in the rear, is the boot, which is just 435 litres, compared to the Audi Q3’s far more practical 530 litres. It really is a surprise when you open the back and see so little there, and that really does lower the practicality mark.

 


Range Rover Evoque8/10

The Evoque is on a heavily updated platform with its very bones having been altered to future-proof it for hybrid drivetrains.

This has resulted in a 20mm increase to its wheelbase, which is reflected directly into its now-gigantic cabin.

Aside from the invasively large steering wheel, the driver is greeted with an airy and spacious cabin with plenty of room for elbows across the thick centre console and chiseled out door cards.

Almost every surface greets you with a soft material, although the window line is quite high, making resting your arm there impractical.

There are storage spaces everywhere. Bottle holders in the doors, cupholders in the centre console, a massive top-box with a split opening and power sources within, a decently-sized glove box and a huge trench hidden underneath the second-screen.

The designers have had the foresight to put lovely textures on the base of storage surfaces to prevent items like phones, wallets and even pens from finding their way onto the floor.

Rear passengers are greeted with no shortage of legroom, dual rear air-vents, pockets on the back of the front seats and trenches in the doors.

Seat trim and comfort are easily as good as the front seats, and despite the declining roofline, headroom is plentiful for someone my size (I’m 182cm tall).

An odd annoyance I noted was the lack of handles above the doors. Almost every car has these. Not sure why this one doesn’t.

Don’t be deceived by the Evoque’s squashed rear window. I found on my test drive its surprisingly easy to see out of it, and then, there’s the boot.

The boot is truly gigantic, the Evoque’s new platform has made it 20cm wider than it was before, but it’s the volume that’s staggering. At 591 litres with the rear seats up it easily pulls punches with SUVs a size up.

There’s also an elastic belt and netted area for securing small objects. There are a few small catches to this voluminous space, and that’s that the rear seats don’t fold fully flat, making for a smaller total space and there’s only a space-saver spare wheel on offer under the boot floor.

Price and features

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class7/10

I find it hard to believe I’m saying this about a Benz, but at a starting price of $66,500, the GLA 250 4MATIC does seem like quite a lot of car for the money. This might be influenced by the fact that I know a couple who recently dropped more than $70K on the smaller A Class (they actually went shopping for a GLA, but then fell in love with the look of the little hatch).

There, are of course, always issues with the Germans when it comes to what you do and don’t get for your tempting entry price, and in the case of our test vehicle it would stick in my craw quite badly to pay $385 extra for its Polar White paint. Yes, white paint costs extra.

While the Titan Grey Pearl and Black Lugano Leather is nice, it’s only in the car as part of the $2838 AMG Exclusive Package. Throw in the Sports Package at $1915, which gets us the sexy 19-inch AMG alloys, and the Driving Assistance Package for $1531 worth of extra active safety, drop on a dollop of LCT at $1329 and the asking price for our urban SUV hits a less-enticing-sounding $74,498.

Your standard inclusions for the $66,500 are a very lovely panoramic electric sunroof, heated and electronically adjustable front seats, with memory function, lowered comfort suspension and sports-direct steering, plus the Off-Road Engineering Package, while the standard, non AMG wheels are also 19-inch alloys, presumably just less sexy ones.

And you don't have to pay extra for Apple CarPlay, which is nice.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

Now this is a tough one, because to its credit, Land Rover has made many of the essential items standard. That having been said, as I’m writing this I’m looking at an options list that’s 15 pages long.

There’s also the fact that once you consider the three trim levels, six(!) engines and two body options you’re left with a monumental 26 possible permutations of this car – and that’s before you start delving into those options.

To break it down, the Evoque has three familiar grades. The S, SE and HSE. From there you pick an engine.

The entry-level S, starting at $62,670 (before on-road costs) can only be had with the base four engines (P200, P250 petrol, D150, D180 diesel) and comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10-inch multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support as well as built-in sat nav, leather interior with 10-way electrically adjustable front seats, manually adjustable climate control, a six-speaker stereo, auto-dimming rear view mirror, a reversing camera as well as front and rear parking sensors.

Stepping up to the mid-spec SE from $68,610 gives you the choice of all six (P200, P250, P300 petrol, D150, D180, D240 diesel) engines.

It has all the equipment of the S but with the addition of the ‘Touch Pro Duo’ second multi-function touchscreen controlling all the vehicle functions, ‘premium’ LED headlights with auto-high beam control, 20-inch alloy wheels, 14-way electrically adjustable front seats and a digital dashboard.

The top-spec HSE costs from $90,230, and can be had with only the top two engines (the P300 petrol and D240 diesel). It includes everything from the SE, as well as a more sophisticated “active driveline” all-wheel drive system, capable of sending all of the engine’s torque to any one wheel, powered tailgate, differently-styled 20-inch alloy wheels, upgraded 'Windsor extended leather'  interior trim, 'Atlas bezel' steering wheel (a metal liner), the ‘ClearSight’ interior rear view mirror, 10-speaker premium audio system, and keyless entry.

From there you pick whether you want the sporty R-Dynamic body-kit at a cost of $1680 on any grade and then start ticking boxes on the expansive options list.

Items notably excluded from the standard features list on any grade like an electronically adjustable steering column and DAB+ digital radio are present, but are pricey options. As are bespoke interior trims and 16-way electronically adjustable heated and cooled premium leather seats.

Almost any feature can be had on any grade as an option. If you really want you can have a base S with premium leather seats and huge wheels. There’s something to be said for how customisable the range is, but with so many options it makes ordering a car overwhelming.

The now-expected active safety items are now standard from the S up, but an option any grade should have ticked is the ‘Driver Assist Pack’ (costing between $2840 on the S to $490 on the HSE) which includes the rest of the suite at a reasonable cost.

For a limited time, Land Rover is offering a ‘First Edition’ with either of the mid-spec engines, the D180 and P250 at $91,550 and $91,300 respectively.

They have the lion’s share of options boxes ticked for you and essentially include items like the R-Dynamic and black contrast packs for free. Although at the top-end of the price scale, when you consider the inclusions, they aren’t bad value.

It has to be said that although the Evoque range can be specified to any buyer’s imagination, Land Rover has managed to make an already expensive small SUV even more expensive, placing it in another price league altogether when tallied up against the Audi Q2 (from $41,950), BMW X2 (from $46,900) and Mercedes-Benz GLA (from $44,700).

Engine & trans

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

The GLA 250 comes with 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that makes a handy 165kW and 350Nm, which is sent to all four wheels using 4MATIC all-wheel drive. The claimed 0 to 100km/h time is 6.7 seconds.

Your silky smooth gearbox is an eight-speed, or 8G-DCT automatic, in Benz speak.

The engine feels powerful enough, without being exciting, and sounds pleasant enough, without sounding sporty - it's pretty much Goldilocks for an urban SUV.


Range Rover Evoque7/10

As previously mentioned, the Evoque has almost too many engine options. There are three petrols and three diesels, ranging from so-so to perhaps overpowered in the case of the P300.

All the engine options are 2.0-litre turbocharged units in different states of tune, and all are mated to a nine-speed torque converter transmission, with all-wheel drive.

Starting with the diesel the entry-level engine offered on most grades is the D150 which offers 110kW/380Nm, you can then step up to the mid-spec D180 which ups those figures to 132kW/430Nm and then to the top-spec D240 which offers 177kW/500Nm.

On the petrol side, things kick off with the P200 at 147kW/320Nm, then there’s the P250 with 183kW/365Nm and, finally, the top-spec P300 which has a rather silly 221kW/400Nm.

The top two engine options also offer a mild hybrid 48V electrical system which is capable of cutting the engine under 17km/h and feeding power back into auxiliary systems, although it is not capable of running the car under its own power. The brand says the system allows for a six per cent reduction in fuel consumption.

To make things more complicated, a three-cylinder mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants are expected to join the line-up some time in 2020.

Fuel consumption

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

The GLA will require 95 RON fuel and claims to drink 7.5 litres per 100km, while producing 170g/km of CO2. 

Our slightly rushed launch drive didn't allow us to check that figure, sadly, but we will on our next, longer test.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

The Evoque has reasonable official claimed/combined consumption figures across all its engine options. Diesel engines are more impressive consuming 5.1L/100km for the base D150, 6.8L/100km for the D180 and 6.3L/100km for the D240.

Petrols are not quite as good, with stated figures of 8.1L/100km for the P200 and P250 and 8.2L/100km for the P300.

Every new-generation Evoque has a 65-litre fuel tank.

Driving

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

With such a high driving position, the worry is that you’re going to feel like you’re sitting on the new GLA rather than in it. 

But the fact is that, once I became accustomed to the fact that I couldn’t get the seat as low as I wanted to, it all became comfortable enough, and I could get on with fully appreciating the ride quality.

While the GLA has a good, Germanic solidity to the way the interior is bolted together - the doors are almost too heavy, I fact, and can be tough for little people to close - it’s the way it sits on the road that really impresses.

The little Benz soaks up the bumps, particularly in Comfort mode, and provides the kind of ride and handling quality that you’d expect in a six-figure German car. Or a Benz of old, you might say.

Critics of A Classes past were heard to complain that they just didn’t ride as softly or richly as a Mercedes should, but the company has put things to rights with its smaller cars in recent years and you really feel like you’re getting the badge you paid for here.

Step out of the cruisy, snoozy Comfort setting into Sport, however, and the CLA feels out of its, well, comfort zone. It’s almost too toey for its own good, wanting to lurch around, holding each gear desperately and making noises that are merely loud rather than sexy.

Engine noise is a little intrusive whenever you try and accelerate fiercely in the GLA, in fact, but there is some handy pace there if you really need it.

Fast driving does feel out of character for the GLA 250 variant, however, and those who want that kind of thing should wait for the AMG-fettled version that will arrive in the next month or so, bringing 225kW and 400Nm.

As a cornering weapon, this car is more of a butter knife, smoothing its way around bends with minimal bodyroll. It’s an urban SUV, and it drives like one, albeit a very good one.

Typically, the steering is also light and easy to use rather than heavy and talkative.

Being the 4-MATIC variant, the GLA 250 also offers an Off-Road mode, which takes full advantage of its torque-on-demand all-wheel-drive system, but sadly our slightly brief introduction to the car didn’t provide us with the chance to hurl it down a scree-covered mountain side, nor to test out its version of hill-descent control.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

This Evoque is better to drive in almost every way compared to its predecessor. It’s smoother, more confident in corners, more composed on rough terrain, and some combination of the new engines and re-calibration of the nine-speed auto has made most of the turbo-lag issues reported on its predecessor a thing of the past.

Unlike many SUVs, the Evoque doesn’t suffer from the feeling of impending understeer, and it’s surprisingly capable when trudging along unsealed roads and even off-road tracks.

Although there’s no mechanical control of a low-range gearbox, Land Rover’s computer-controlled Terrain Response 2 system might surprise you as to how capable it really is, especially on the top two engine variants with their enhanced torque vectoring abilities.

Diesel engines in particular are surprisingly quiet, and while it could be argued that the P300 petrol engine is overpowered for something this size, it was genuinely difficult to get the wheels to lose traction on tarmac.

One criticism I would level at this new Evoque is that in its quest to become the most practical small luxury machine on four wheels, it’s lost something along the way. It’s so big and heavy now it feels as though you’re just driving a cropped down Velar.

That’s all very luxurious, but I’ll miss the nimble, agile feeling that was a large part of what made the first Evoque so endearing.

Safety

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

The GLA has not been ANCAP or Euro NCAP crash rated yet, but the first car got five stars from the Euro test and was never ANCAP tested. It’s safe to say they design their cars around being damn sure they get five stars.

You’ll also be getting no less than nine airbags - front, pelvis side and window bags for driver and front passenger, sidebags for the rear occupants and a knee bag for the driver.

In terms of active safety, the Active Brake Assist - which works up to 60km/h - is standard, as is Blind Spot Assist, with exit-warning function, which alerts the driver to approaching cyclists or vehicles when they’re about to open their door. Active Lane Keep Assist is also standard, as are the Active Bonnet, Traffic Sign Assist and Cross Wind Assist.

But you will have to stump up for the Driving Assistance Package to get things like Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Braking Assist and Evasive Steering Assist.


Range Rover Evoque8/10

Standard active safety from the base S up includes essential items like auto emergency braking (AEB), lane keep assist (LKAS), and traffic sign recognition.

Higher specs will grant you more, including blind-spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), high-speed AEB with active cruise control and auto-parking.

Thankfully there’s the ‘Driver Assist Pack’ which bundles all the active safety items into one reasonably-priced place. It costs between $2840 on the S to just $490 on the HSE and is easily the best value item on the options list.

The Evoque scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in time for its launch, which applies to all variants.

There are six airbags and the rear seats benefit from ISOFIX child-seat mounting points on the outboard seats and top-tethers across all three positions.

Ownership

Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class8/10

Your GLA comes with a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is Japanese good, if not Korean good. 

In terms of servicing, you can choose to purchase a Service Plan or pay as you go with capped-price servicing. 

The costs for three annual services are $2050 for the Service Plan, or $2550 with the Capped Price Servicing (first is $550, second is $750, third $1250). 

Service Plans can be bought in four or five-year lots, at $2950 and $3500 respectively.


Range Rover Evoque6/10

Land Rover offers a three-year 100,000km warranty which is frustratingly short, though if you believe what BMW has to say on the matter, this won’t bother premium buyers.

Still, with Volkswagen now offering a five-year warranty, the pressure will hopefully mount on premium automakers to start offering a little more in this space.

Land Rover does offer 24 hour roadside assist for the length of the warranty.

The new Evoque has condition-dependent servicing, meaning the car’s on-board computer will notify you when it’s time to have it serviced. This will happen at least once every 12 months.

This car’s predecessor allowed you to add service packs of up to five years at the time of purchase, as well as an optional extended warranty. We’ll seek clarification and pricing on these and update this story when we have confirmation on both.