Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class VS Peugeot 5008
- 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
- Doesn't look like a seven-seater
- Cabin design definitely unique
- Crazy-practical cabin
- Interior tech can be slow to use
- Much-hyped gear shift rather annoying
- Priced toward the premiums
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|
I know it’s difficult, but try for a moment to imagine an Australia without Peugeot in it. Actually, it’s not that difficult at all, is it? It would look, well, a whole lot like the Australia of today. Hell, it wouldn't even help with traffic - less than 3400 new cars would have vanished last year, barely enough to make a dent.
Because the French brand is not making much of an impact Down Under. There are probably a few reasons for that; the fact it has been trapped between being not Japanese or Korean, and yet not-quite European, compounded by unpopular product which was also probably too expensive.
But that was the old Peugeot. Before the brand switched to a new importer in Australia (Inchcape, which also imports Subaru), and before the new-look senior management team arrived vowing to breathe new life into the brand here. Most importantly, though, it was before the arrival of the really rather good (and 2017 European Car of The Year) 3008 SUV, which marked the dawning of a new era for Peugeot.
This is the second salvo in this new-product offensive, the 5008; a sexy seven-seat SUV Peugeot has high hopes for in Australia. And given it’s essentially a bigger version of the 3008, we have high hopes for it, too.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
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.
The French comeback rolls on, with the 5008 continuing the good work of the 3008, just with more room for cargo or humans. A really very versatile interior, a solid choice of engines and - thank goodness - a conventional automatic combine to make the 5008 a genuine contender in the seven-seat class. Peugeot deserves kudos for its well-stacked standard features and safety lists, too.
But the brand considers this a premium car, and so has priced it like one. Only time will tell whether buyers agree with them...
Is this French roll set to continue with the 5008? 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.
We said at the time that the Peugeot 3008 might be the best-looking SUV in its segment, and the 5008 shares that same curb appeal - even if it doesn't look quite as handsome as its smaller siblings.
It falls into a weird size category; at 4641mm, it's 165mm longer than the five-seat 3008, but it's dwarfed by true seven-seaters, like the CX-9 (5075mm). But that's no bad thing for its looks.
Bigger is rarely better when it comes to car design, and the 5008 looks compact and dynamic, with only the area stretching from the C-pillar to the tail-lights hinting at the seven seats within. A bulging bonnet, blacked-out body kit and big shining alloys across the line-up give the 5008 a strong road presence.
Cleverly, it feels bigger inside than it seems from its exterior, with the interior feeling spacious and airy up front, and with positively spacious interior dimensions in the second row.
The cabin design is going to be one of those love/hate things, though; a futuristic-feeling design that won’t appeal to everyone. The textured, layered dash design makes the driver and front passenger feel like they're sitting in their own cockpit, with piano key-style controls in the dash that take care of everything from the air-conditioning to the hazard lights.
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.
It’s insanely clever, the 5008. And you could probably own one for 12 months or more before you discovered all the practicality features hidden around the cabin. But allow us to give you a little head start.
For one, the cup holder count sits at eight (more than one per passenger, for some reason), plus front-seat riders can access the usual collection of USB and power connections.
The infotainment/multimedia system across all trim levels is operated by a clean and simple-to-use 8.0-inch touchscreen that’s both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-equipped, and there’s a wireless charging pad for your Android device (or iPhone, with a special case). Expect a sat-nav navigation system (or you can use your phone’s GPS maps), DAB digital radio, Bluetooth connection and a CD player, but there’s no DVD player on offer anywhere in the range.
While there’s no business pack model like you’d find overseas, all 5008s are commendably well equipped, with LED daytime running lights, adaptive cruise control with full stop and dual-zone air conditioning all appearing standard across the range.
The Allure does feel less plush vs the GT-Line and GT models, the former adding special floor matts and an auto-opening boot, while the latter scores bigger, 19-inch alloy wheels and heated front seats with a massage function for the driver. But more kit comes along with extra cost, of course, so the compromise is the fact the GT-Line and GT’s rrp reside higher up the price list by comparison.
Leather seats (the GT-Line and GT are fitted with man-made leather as standard), is a $3700 option, while a sunroof will set you back $2000, both of of which appear on an admirably short optional features/accessories list.
A flat white (the colour, not the coffee) is only the hue you’ll get for free, but optional colours include 'Pearl White', three kinds of grey, black, green and blue. Those colours sound a little beige (we really need three greys?), and you can forget out-there tones like gold.
Each of the three middle-row seats is individually mounted on a sliding rail, so every passenger can decide exactly how much legroom they want, too. And, especially with the seats set to their furthest-back position, there is plenty of room to sit in comfort. Each front seat-back is equipped with a storage net, but even more clever are the fold-down tables mounted above the nets that arrive as standard on every model.
Space is predictably tighter in the third row, with the two rear spots feeling more like temporary jump seats than a full-time solution, but they are very handy for a big family nonetheless.
The real party trick here is the 5008’s boot space, though. First, you can fold down the third and second rows, and even the passenger seat, to unlock a staggering 2042 litres of storage space.
Want more? You can remove both of the third row seats entirely (they weigh 11kg each), freeing up even more space in the back. It also means how many seats you use is up to you; if you’re a smaller family that occasionally needs seven seats, you can leave them in the garage until you need them.
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.
In France, Peugeot is a mass brand - the country's answer to our Holden or Ford. But the company's new bosses don't reckon that strategy will work here, and so they are instead moving the 5008 more upmarket, axing the Euro-only entry-level models so the range here begins with a better-equipped vehicle instead.
All of which means the cheapest way into the Peugeot 5008 family is the $42,990 Allure, a front-wheel drive, petrol-powered model that arrives with 18-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, auto headlights and wipers, electric (and heated) door mirrors and keyless entry.
Inside, you'll find those three rows of 'man-made leather' seats, dual-zone climate and automatic windows. Tech is covered by an 8.0-inch central touchscreen with navigation and DAB, along with wireless charging for your Android phone (iPhones require a special case).
Next is the GT-Line, which will set you back $46,990. It adds an auto-opening boot that can be activated by swiping your foot underneath it, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, chrome exhaust tips and some GT-Line styling touches like special floor mats and a reshaped front bumper.
Finally, you can spring for the GT, which lists at $52,990. That seems like quite a jump, sure, but you do get a diesel engine (which we'll come back to under Engines/Transmissions), as well as 19-inch alloys, Alcantara trim in the cabin, heated front seats (with a massage function for the driver) and more aggressive wheelarches.
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 two engine sizes on offer, a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine in the Allure and GT-Line, and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel motor in the GT. Both pair with a six-speed automatic gearbox (there’s no manual) and drive the front wheels exclusively (a proper 4X4 isn't available - you'd think the diesel was crying out for a 4WD system - though a faux-AWD system can be optioned).
There is no LPG option available, but much has been made of Peugeot’s race to embrace electric powertrains, so expect a plug-in hybrid model to be a part of future planning. Peugeot claims a maximum towing capacity of 1550kg in petrol-powered cars, and 1500kg in diesel vehicles. A towbar is an optional accessory, though.
At 121kW at 6000rpm and 240Nm at 1400rpm for the petrol engine, and 133kW at 3750rpm and 400Nm at 2000rpm for the diesel, the horsepower specifications are near enough line-ball. But the low-end torque of the diesel ensures it feels the punchiest around the city.
The automatic transmission is a traditional gearbox, as opposed to a dual-clutch or CVT auto unit. As such, those all-too-common automatic gearbox problems usually associated with them (confusion at slow speeds and slurring or stuttering) are nowhere to be found.
Fuel-tank capacity is listed at 56 litres, and Peugeot claims a tare weight of between 1470kg and 1575kg. For information concerning your battery, oil type or diesel particulate filters, consult your owner’s manual.
The petrol engine will return claimed fuel economy of 7.0 litres per hundred kilometres for the combined (urban, extra-urban) cycle, while diesel fuel consumption is listed at 4.8L/100km. Emissions are pegged at 156g/km (petrol) and 124g/km (diesel) of CO2.
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.
There are plenty of times when being predictable is a bad thing (professional sports, movie plots, bank robbing), but the 5008 is predictable in all the right ways. And that's because it drives, more or less, like a bigger version of the 3008 SUV that arrived in Australia last year.
We spent the bulk of our time in the diesel-powered GT, in which we tackled just about every imaginable road type, from freeways to twisting stuff to off-road gravel runs. And we came away genuinely impressed by the 5008's overall dynamics.
The ride sits on the firm side of sporty, and feels more so on the 19-inch alloy wheels of the GT cars, but the suspension rarely strays into uncomfortable, and always feels well connected to the road below.
The extra power of the diesel translates to slightly better acceleration, with a 0-100km/h time of 10.2 seconds, a touch quicker than the petrol car's 10.5 seconds. A performance car this ain't, but it doesn't feel underpowered, either.
With 230mm ground clearance, you'll get more off-road ability than in a low-slung sedan, but there's no true four-wheel drive system available, instead you can option 'Grip Control' on the Allure and GT-Line cars for $200 (it's a no-cost option on the GT, but you have to swap the 19s for 18s), which acts as a faux-AWD system.
Should you attack a twisting road, you'll find the 5008 sits flat through the sharpest of bends with almost no roll in the body. There are sportier cars, of course (and the button marked 'Sport' in the cabin seems to do little but add dead weight to the steering), but the French SUV won't embarrass itself on the bendy stuff.
But it's home in the city, and keep the inputs smooth, and the 5008 coasts through the CBD with ease. The fact that it's on the small side for a seven-seat SUV is a huge bonus for city driving (remember, this is a car designed for Paris - a place that knows a thing or two about tight streets with limited parking), and the tech-laden cabin is comfortable and convenient.
It’s not the quietest diesel we’ve driven, though the cabin is well-insulated from the noise, and there’s no shortage of lag when you really put your foot down. One more word of caution, though; Peugeot uses an all-electric gear shift to select Park, Drive or Reverse, and it can be both fiddly and slow to respond. It’s best to take your time with it while you’re figuring out the quirks.
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 5008’s safety story is a solid one, with every model arriving with six airbags (including curtain airbags that cover both the second and third rows), a (strangely low-resolution) 360-degree parking camera with front and rear parking sensors, AEB, lane-departure warning, speed-sign recognition, adaptive cruise control and park assist, along with the usual suite of traction and braking aids and three ISOFIX attachment points.
Step up to the GT-Line or GT and you’ll add active blind-spot monitoring and cornering headlights.
The 5008 is yet to be ANCAP crash-tested, but it scored the maximum five-star safety rating when crashed by Euro NCAP.
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.
The Peugeot 5008 is covered by a five-year/unlimited km warranty, with matching roadside assist, and will require a trip to the service centre every 12 months or 20,000km.
Peugeot’s 'Assured Price' servicing program lists the service cost for each of the first nine services on the brand’s website. Servicing is cheaper than before, too, now $1745 (petrol) and $1685 (diesel) for the first three years - more than $500 cheaper than the out-going model.
Every 5008 arrives with a clever take on the traditional owner’s manual (a new app in which you point your phone at the part of the car you want to know about and it will jump to that page on the digital manual) and a space-saver spare tyre in petrol models and a repair kit in diesel models.
It’s far too soon to know of any problems, common faults or reliability issues, but keep an eye on our Peugeot owner’s page.