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Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class


Lexus LX

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 turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Lexus LX

Clearly the regular Lexus LX570 wasn't over-styled enough, because now there's this - the new 2019 Lexus LX570 S - which takes the brash big SUV from the Japanese brand and adds some extra brawn to its look.

It may be based on a Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series but the V8 petrol-powered Lexus LX570 is a heavily styled heavy-duty SUV. This new version packs extra heavily-styled elements like 21-inch rims, an even more Storm Trooper-esque body kit and a bunch of other changes.

And while we know that this is a supremely capable off roader, this test was more focused on what it might be like for a city-slicker-cum-doomsday-prepper: someone who wants to know they can get out of trouble if necessary, but also wants a level of driveway desirability.

This special version will set you back a hairy $25,000 more than the regular LX570, though. Should you consider it?

Safety rating
Engine Type5.7L
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency14.4L/100km
Seating8 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.

 


Lexus LX6.6/10

If you're more interested in appearance, space and features when choosing your large SUV, the Lexus LX570 S may offer a lot of appeal to you. And if you actually plan to venture outside of the suburbs where you can explore the abilities of the vehicle's underpinnings, it could be right up your figurative alley... or down your goat track, as it were.

But in day-to-day driving it is let down by a lacklustre drive experience, underwhelming and thirsty engine and frustrating media interface. If you really don't need eight seats and the hardcore hardware, check out the Lexus RX350 L instead. You won't regret it.

Is this Lexus big and beautiful or brash and bloated? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.

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.

 


Lexus LX8/10

If you can't find anything interesting about any new Lexus in terms of design you'd better book in at your optometrist.

The LX570 S is a vehicle that isn't backwards in coming forwards, with the model-specific body kit seeing new front, rear and side skirts, as well as a different mesh design for the huge 'spindle' grille. The 21-inch forged alloy rims are finished in gloss black, and like the regular LX you get LED headlights and daytime running lights, as well as LED tail-lights.

There is no doubt this is polarising - opinions were split in the office, with some finding the LX attractive, while others questioned if it was acceptable. I fall into the former camp - there's something ostentatious about the LX570 S that really appeals to me.

It's not just exterior trim changes, though - Lexus has fitted some performance parts to it, including performance dampers that are designed to make this big rig drive a bit smaller than it is. It still has adjustable suspension, though, so you can raise and lower it at will. It looks particularly menacing dumped on its guts.

It is arresting in its presence, and given that some customers buy vehicles like this as much to be seen as anything else, it deserves a decent score for its styling, even if it looks a bit like a lowered Subaru Forester, and has a really short wheelbase (2850mm) for the length of the vehicle (5080mm). It's boxy, at 1980mm wide and 1865mm tall.

The interior of this LX is pretty special, too - check out the interior pictures to see for yourself.

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.

 


Lexus LX7/10

If you like equipment, knobs, dials, buttons, leather and wood, the LX570 S might be your dream vehicle.

And this version gets model-specific 'semi-aniline' leather-accented trim, alloy pedals and 'Shimamoku Grey' wood highlights. Now, that mightn't mean anything to you, and you might just think it looks like a woodgrain steering wheel - but would you change your mind if you knew it takes 38 days of Japanese craftsmanship just to do finish the steering wheel?

It looks plush - not modern or contemporary, as such, but neat. And if you want it, this spec is available with 'Garnet' burgundy leather trim.

The sheer size of the Lexus LX makes you think it should be super spacious, and ultra practical, but given the hulking mass of the thing, it's not as well packaged as it could be. Or maybe that should read: it's not as well packaged as we know Lexus could do with a new version of it.

That mainly comes down to the wheelbase being quite short, the fact it's built on a ladder-frame chassis, and that this generation of LX is actually pretty old - it first launched way back in 2007, and while it has been updated several times since then, the game has moved on for cabin practicality.

Even so, you can fit eight people in the LX, if the three in the third row aren't big and don't hate each other. For someone my size - 182cm with size 12 feet - the room is a bit limited; there's more space in the third row of a Mazda CX-9 or Toyota Kluger. But there are vents and cupholders, as well as grab handles - important if you actually plan to go off road.

In the second row there are vents, cupholders in a fold-down armrest which also houses the climate controls for the rear zones and the buttons for the heated and cooled second-row outboard seats, plus there are bottle holders in the doors, map pockets, and a bit more space for regular sized humans.

The electric slide adjustment for the second row can make it more accommodating in the third row if you need to, and there is a recline function, too.

This spec has two 11.6-inch display screens in the back with HDMI and auxiliary inputs, plus there are headphones for each screen and there's a 12-volt jack - but no USB points.

Up front there's a fridge between the seats. No, seriously, where you'd usually have a covered centre console there's a cool box that is good for half a dozen drinks and some sambos.

Plus there's the usual practicality measures you'd expect, like decent door pockets, big cup holders and some bins for odds and ends. There's a cluster of control buttons on the dashboard which can take a little bit of learning, and the array of control knobs between the seats means you have to watch yourself to make sure you don't twiddle the wrong one.

There's another controller there - the odd-bod unit that Lexus persists with to control the 12.3-inch media screen. This mouse/joystick style controller is so utterly frustrating to use that it verges on dangerous when you're trying to toggle between screens, because it takes too much concentration.  Plus there's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, and you can't pair Bluetooth devices on the move, or input sat nav instructions at speed, either.

Thankfully, if you hook up your device via USB or wirelessly you can take advantage of the mammoth 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system which I think could be the best in the business.

Boot space varies on how you configure the seats. With the third row in place, there's 259 litres of cargo capacity, which is enough for a week's groceries (and the split tailgate makes it easy to load the bags in, too!).

With the third-row seats folded up out of the way - they electronically release and tuck to the sides of the cabin - there is 1220L of boot capacity. And if you lever the second-row forward there is 2074L of room.

There's a full-size spare wheel 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.


Lexus LX8/10

It's hard to consider a car that costs $168,089 plus on-road costs as being anything other than expensive, especially when the flagship version of the donor vehicle it's based on costs about 30 per cent less, and some competitors are about half the price.

But you get a lot with the Lexus LX570 S. Like, a lot.

As well as all the hardcore LandCruiser off-road hardware and an extensive safety tech list (see below), and the model specific goodies like the intricate interior trim, body kit and bigger wheels, the features list is lengthy.

There's push-button start, keyless entry, leather seat trim all around, a 12.3-inch media screen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming plus DAB digital radio and USB connectivity, a 19-speaker sound system, sat nav, auto-dimming mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats and outboard rear seats, a heated steering wheel, electric seat adjustment front and middle rows with electric folding rear seats, twin screens in the second row, quad-zone climate control and more.

There are only two colour choices for the LX570 S: 'Sonic Quartz' (the white you see here) or 'Starlight Black'.

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.


Lexus LX6/10

Under the bonnet of the LX 570 is a thumping great 5.7-litre V8 engine producing 270kW of power at 5600rpm and 530Nm of torque at a high 3200rpm.

While those engine specs might be really enjoyable in a light, low, two-door coupe, the fact the peak power and torque comes in high in the rev range puts this vehicle at a disadvantage when you consider some German rivals.

A Mercedes-Benz GLS500, for example, has a 4.7-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 which just happens to have more power and torque than the Lexus, with 335kW at 5500rpm and 700Nm across a broad spread from 1800-4000rpm.

The LX570 employs an eight-speed automatic transmission, and it has the Toyota off-road hardware you'll want if you plan to take this bad boy off-road. That means there's a dual-range transmission with a low range transfer case, plus height-adjustable air suspension, a Torsen locking rear differential, and the excellent 'CRAWL' off-road system.

Towing specs are accounted for, too, with a 750kg un-braked towing rating, and the maximum 3.5-tonne capacity for a braked trailer.

If you're curious about the kerb weight of the Lexus LX570 S, it sits at 2740kg, and had a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 3350kg, meaning that's the maximum permissible weight... if your family is big-boned, you mightn't be able to fill all eight seats.

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.


Lexus LX5/10

Does it really matter? If you're spending this much on a big SUV, you can't expect it to be miserly, and nor would you likely be too bothered about what it costs to refill.

Even so, the claimed fuel use figure - 14.4 litres per 100 kilometres - is high, and there's a pretty good chance you'll see higher than that regularly. And you need to run it on premium unleaded (95 RON).

In daily running we saw roughly 17.5L/100km around town, which settled to about 11.5L/100km on the freeway. If you do a lot of distance driving or country touring, and you're not in a hurry, you might find it to be decently efficient.

Hitch something to the back or head off-road and you'll see the 138-litre fuel tank capacity dissipate rapidly. There's a 93L main tank plus a 45L auxiliary.

And hey, if fuel use does matter to you, check out the LX 450d with its strong 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel V8, which claims 9.9L/100km.

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.


Lexus LX5/10

Confused is the word that sticks out most to me as a descriptor of the drive experience.

It has all the off-roading hardware you could need under the skin, including adjustable hydraulic suspension so you can raise and lower it when you need to. But I'd be worried about damaging the Quagmire-esque chin of the LX570 S on rough terrain, so there was no off road review conducted of this spec.

But if you want to know how the Lexus LX fares off the beaten track, read our adventure review. Giggity.

As a daily driver, you'd probably be much better off getting a Lexus RX350 L if seven seats will suffice - because that is an inherently more enjoyable SUV to drive, even if it doesn't have the same level of street presence as this big bad boy.

Therein lies the issue. It is big, and doesn't hide its size well - a bit like an elephant trying to hide behind a bath towel in that regard.

The suspension in this spec is assisted by front and rear performance dampers to "improve body rigidity and steering stability", but a few of the reviewers in the office didn't find the latter to be the case. The steering is both heavy and lumpy, with a big turning circle and not a lot of linearity to the way the vehicle pivots.

The ride isn't great, either. The big rims feel heavy when you hit bumps, and while the car resets itself impressively fast if you pass over a speed hump or a road join straight on, when you hit a bump in a corner things feel flummoxed. And never, ever, does it feel sporty to drive.

The brake pedal feels over-assisted, so much so that I warned my partner she might feel car sick on the way home - that's because the mass of this big, heavy vehicle pitches fore and aft over its short wheelbase, and the action of the brake pedal is both grabby and squishy at the same time. It left me bemused.

The engine is refined and pulls decently, but it certainly doesn't feel fast or powerful, even under full throttle - that's an accusation that can be levelled at all of the large V8 Japanese SUVs, but not at the Europeans (Range Rover or Mercedes GLS, for instance).

You will find yourself pressing hard on the throttle pretty regularly, as it can be a little sluggish at low revs. Indeed, the engine does its best work above 3500rpm - that's not really where you want to be spending a lot of time in a family SUV. The eight-speed auto is smooth, though, and offers decent intuition at all speeds.

While the muted surrounds of the cabin makes for great cruising comfort, I would have loved if Lexus offered a sports exhaust for this model - it would certainly have added something positive to the drive experience.

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.


Lexus LX8/10

The Lexus LX hasn't received an ANCAP crash test safety rating, but the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series that it's based on scored the maximum five-star rating in 2011 (and that score applies to all models sold from 2015 onwards, according to ANCAP).

It comes well specified in terms of safety technology, with a configurable surround-view camera and reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, a head-up display, trailer sway control, adaptive cruise control, auto emergency braking (AEB) with forward collision warning and pedestrian detection.

There's a lane departure warning system that works at speeds over 50km/h, and while it can intervene with 'slight pulls' on the steering wheel, it won't hold the vehicle's position in the lane like some other systems.

The LX also has auto high-beam lights, LED headlights and daytime running lights, as well as blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.

There's an array of airbags - dual front, dual front knee, dual front side, dual rear side, and full length curtain, for a total of 10. And if you need to fit baby seats, there are two ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and three top-tether points in the second row, but none in the third row.

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.


Lexus LX6/10

Lexus doesn't offer a capped-price servicing plan for any of its models, which leaves it as one of the only brands left without such a plan.

And we've been told that a LX570 model will cost you about $615 per visit, and it needs two services per year, with intervals set at six months/10,000km. Expensive.

The four-year/100,000km warranty Lexus offers is below par, too. But you do get roadside assist, and Lexus is renowned for its high standard of customer care - it even offers a collection/delivery service to customers when its time for a service.

If you're curious about LX570 problems, issues, complaints, recalls or reliability concerns, check out our Lexus LX570 problems page.