Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class VS Peugeot 3008
- Exterior styling
- Interior and cabin appeal
- Rear space, and space overall
- Lack of boot space
- Driving position not too high for some
- Engine noise slightly un-sexy
- Stylish looks
- Genuinely cool interior
- Solid road manners
- Too expensive to be truly mainstream
- AEB only on upper trim levels
- Some fit and finish question marks in the cabin
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.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
If Peugeot is ever to become more than an also-ran in our ridiculously competitive new car market, it'll be a car like the all-new 3008 that will get it there.
It's a mid-size SUV, for one, firing it into one of our most popular segments. It's also well-equipped, easy on the eye, and packing the engine choices and technology most Australian buyers are looking for.
Oh, it's also carrying a swag-bag of major international awards, including the 2017 European Car of The Year title.
But will any of that be enough to convince Australian buyers to take a punt on what is still a relative unknown in the country?
|Engine Type||1.6L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
If Peugeot is to become a force on Australian roads, this is its chance. A perfect storm of the right product, the right time and a commitment to putting more of them on our driveways means the French brand is finally in the box seat.
Also, check out Tim Robson's thoughts on the 3008 from its international launch.
Does the new 3008 put Peugeot into your mid-size SUV short list? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
It's seriously good looking, the 3008, and the pictures don't really do it justice. For ours, it is immediately duking it out for the title of best-looking model in its class, despite the front end being less resolved than the rear.
A puffy-looking front end, courtesy of the recessed headlights, surround a huge Peugeot grille. The belt line then climbs low to high as it travels toward the rear of the car, where it meets the three-stripe (they're meant to looks like a claw swipe) rear lights.
But if the front is busy, the back is all squared-off coolness, thanks to a Range Rover Evoque-style rear windscreen and (on the right trim) twin trapezoid exhausts tips.
Inside, a futuristic dash set-up is headlined by the 'i-Cockpit', which centres on a customisable digital screen, accompanied by a second, 8.0-inch multimedia screen in the centre of the dash.
Other special mentions inside go to the textured, layered dash design that makes the driver and front passenger feel like they're sitting in their own cockpit, and to the piano key-style controls in the dash that take care of everything from the air-conditioning to the hazard lights, and make an appearance in everything from the cheapest model up.
Oh, and the steering wheel, which is a strange new shape that kind of makes it both flat-bottomed and flat-topped. Sounds odd, sure, but it works.
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.
Up front, you'll find two cupholders, as well as a shallow bin under the dash that doubles as an induction charging pad. Plus, there's a storage bin between the front seats that is ridiculously deep. A USB charge point and a 12-volt power outlet complete the front-seat offering.
The backseat is a firm pew, but for ours, that just means you'll get more wear out of it. There's a surprising amount of space for rear passengers, too, with headroom (at least, in the sunroof-free cars) ample, and tons of space between my knees and the seat in front when sitting behind my (180cm) driving position.
One weird quirk, though, is the rear air vents (applause) protrude so much into the rear seat (retract that applause) that middle seat riders are going to have to spread their legs into each window seat to sit anything even approaching comfortably. It's weird.
Better off ditching the middle rider and deploying the fold-down armrest, which will unlock two more cup holders. There are seat back pockets, too, as well as two ISOFIX attachment points, and rear seaters get vents, and a 12-volt power source.
Luggage room is a healthy 591 litres with the rear seats in place, and 1670 litres with them folded flat - though you can also make use of the wonderfully European ski opening to carry longer stuff.
Price and features
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.
The 3008 arrives in four flavours; the cheapest Active, the mid-spec Allure and GT Line, and the top-of-the-tree GT trim.
The range kicks off with the $36,990 Active (Peugeot has opted not to import the Access trim, which forms the bargain-basement entry point in international markets), and outside, your spend will earn you 17-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, as well as automatic headlights and wipers.
In the cabin, you'll find Peugeot's very cool i-Cockpit - a 12.3-inch digital display in the driver's binnacle, like Audi's Virtual Cockpit - as well as an 8.0-inch touchscreen that's Apple Car Play and Android Auto-equipped, navigation, induction charging for your phone and dual-zone climate control.
Step up to the $39,490 Allure and you'll add keyless entry and push-button start, privacy glass for the rear windows and a cool fabric dash insert. You'll also nab 18-inch alloys and LED 'puddle lights' that illuminate the ground underneath the driver and passenger doors.
The $43,490 GT Line adds LED headlights and fog lights and some cool-looking exterior design elements like stainless steel scuff plates and twin exhaust tips, plus you get a different 18-inch wheel design.
Finally, the $49,490 GT gets 19-inch alloy wheels, swaps the cloth seats for an Alcantara set-up (including an insert in the dash), as well as a heating and massage function for the front seats.
Engine & trans
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.
There are just the two engines on offer; a petrol unit available in the Active, Allure and GT Line cars, and a diesel that's offered up in the top-spec GT.
The petrol option is a turbocharged 1.6-litre unit producing 121kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm. It pairs exclusively with a six-speed automatic and sends its power to the front wheels. Expect a 9.9sec 0-100km/h time, and a flying top speed of 201km/h.
The diesel drinker is a 2.0-litre unit good for 122kW at 3750rpm and 400Nm at 2000rpm. It pairs with the same six-speed auto, and it, too, sends its power to the front wheels. It's slighter sprightlier, though, and good for a 8.9sec 0-100km/h sprint, and it will push on to 207km/h.
Peugeot claims the petrol option sips 7.0L/100km on the combined economy cycle, while the diesel needs just 4.8 litres to go the same distance. Emissions are 156g/km in the petrol, and 124g/km in the diesel.
All 3008s arrive with a 53-litre fuel tank.
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.
How do I put this delicately? Um, the 3008 doesn't drive like something traditionally French. There's very little quirkiness about the way it goes about its business, nor does it feel like you're compromising something (ride, comfort, your own sanity) for something else (performance, dynamics, a decent seating position).
The petrol and diesel engines are quiet enough, and while both offer not-life-changing acceleration, the diesel engine is definitely the choice for perkier response, with the added torque lending the Peugeot a little extra oomph from standstill.
Truly poor roads will send noise whistling through the cabin, but otherwise it's a comfortable, largely quiet place to while away the hours. Most impressive, though, is the ride; which (albeit after a brief, frankly boring taste test) proved something verging on brilliant. It absorbs most imperfections and banishes them before they appear, with only serious road issues sending a crash into the cabin.
The downsides? The 3008 is home to a Sport button that actually detracts from the drive experience, adding a weight to the steering that makes it a little trickier to feel your way through corners. Add to that column-mounted paddles that seem to vanish when there's any lock on the wheel, and you're much better off cruising rather than trying to push the 3008 into sporty behaviour.
So, we'll reserve judgement until we spend some more time behind the wheel, but it felt impressively sorted on our brief test route.
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.
The glaring omission here is the lack of AEB on the cheaper models (something Peugeot's new, and only weeks old, Australian importer concedes it might have rectified if they had more time and involvement with the planning of this model). Its a shame, though, because there's plenty of other cool stuff that you'll find as standard.
Expect six airbags (front, front-side and curtain), along with the usual suite of traction and braking aids. A nice touch across all trim levels is the standard speed-limit-recognition system, which will read the speed signs as you pass them and beam that information onto the digital screen in the driver's binnacle. Distance alert (which warns if you you're too close to the car in front), lane departure warning and a fatigue warning are all standard, too.
AEB arrives on the GT Line and GT grades, along with active lane keeping, adaptive cruise with complete stop, active blind spot detection and auto high beams.
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.