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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

New Mercedes-Benz GLA revealed along with hot AMG GLA 35

GLA is a clear nod to the B-Class and even the GLE externally, but according to the three-pointed star, comes with a “significantly reinforced character”

Mercedes-Benz has officially completed its eight-model A-Class based line-up by unveiling the highly awaited, all-new second generation GLA.

Conforming to Benz’s Sensual Purity design language, the GLA is a clear nod to the B-Class and even the GLE as opposed to the A-Class externally, but according to the three-pointed star, comes with a “significantly reinforced character” compared to its predecessor.

As already mentioned, the GLA shares the MFA2 front-wheel-drive platform with the A-Class hatch, sedan, the Chinese market A-Class Sedan L, CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, B-Class and the GLB, but with changes to the actual dimensions related to height and length.

Measuring 4 410 mm in overall length with a wheelbase of 2 729 mm, height of 1 611 mm and width of 1 834 mm, the GLA is 30 mm longer and 30 mm wider than its predecessor, but a heady 104 mm taller in spite of the width having withered by 30 mm and the overall length by 14 mm.

The change in design has also impacted on the interior where the GLA, despite its coupe-esque styling, is said to be roomier with a 116 mm uptake in headroom, 45 mm in elbow room and 43 mm in rear shoulder room. Subsequently, boot space has gone up to 435-litres with the 40/20/40 split rear seat in place. Like its predecessor, the newcomer provides seating for five and apart from its inherent compact sizes, is claimed to offer front passenger a seating position 140 mm higher than that of the A-Class and 50 mm versus the B-Class.

Inside, the interior is standard A-Class fare with the option of the dual 10.25-inch display featuring the MBUX infotainment system, as well as other tech such as a colour Heads-Up Display and selection of materials finishes and trim pieces.

On the safety front, the array of systems, either optional or standard, consists of Active Steer Assist, Active Distance Assist Distronic, Active Emergency Braking Assist, Active Parking Assist, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Assist and Pre-Safe Plus that applies the brakes when a potential accident is detected.

A new feature offered as an option is the so-called Car Wash function that debuted on the GLS, which causes the mirrors to fold, the windows and sunroof to close, the climate control to activate the air-recirculation mode and the optional surround view camera system to display the frontal view only when going through a car wash.

Boasting a 143 mm ground clearance, a nine millimetre increase over the old GLA, Mercedes-Benz has completely revised the GLA underneath with the fitment of a new MacPherson strut front axle, forged aluminium wishbones, a four-link rear axle, a die-cast aluminium steering knuckle and, in the case of models fitted with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, a new rear axle differential with an electro-mechanical multi-plate clutch and variable torque distribution.

Optional is the Off-Road Engineering Package that adds a bespoke driving mode to the standard Dynamic Select mode selector, Hill Descent Control with Downhill Speed Regulation and a special LED light when fitted with the MultiBeam LED headlights that is designed to improved obstacle sightings at night.

Underneath the bonnet, the GLA will come powered by a choice of two petrol engines; the GLA 200 using the familiar Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance co-developed 1.3-litre turbo that produces 120kW/250Nm and the Benz developed 2.0-litre turbo in the GLA 250 that punches out 165kW/350Nm. A seven-speed dual-clutch ‘box is standard on the GLA 200 with the new eight-speed unit being employed on the GLA 250. Expect diesel derivatives to be announced at a later stage.


In addition to the regular GLA, the wraps have also come off of the new AMG GLA 35 powered by the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine as the A35 that punches out 225kW/400Nm. Mated to the eight-speed dual-clutch ‘box, the GLA 35 will hit 100 km/h from naught in an alleged 5.1 seconds and top out at 250 km/h.

Visually, the 35 distinguishes itself from its sibling by receiving the now customary AMG Panamericana grille, revised front and rear aprons, a chrome silver or optional gloss black front splitter, standard high-sheen Tantalum Grey 19-inch five-spoke AMG light alloy wheels with up to 21-inches available, chrome silver or gloss black door sills, an AMG rear spoiler integrated into the bootlid and dual black chrome exhaust outlets for the AMG sports exhaust.

Inside, the bespoke AMG touches consist of unique graphics for the instrument cluster and MBUX, sport seats trimmed in Artico man-made leather and Dinamica micro-fibres with contrasting red top-stitching, carbon fibre inlays, brushed stainless pedals, AMG branded black floor mats and the optional AMG Performance steering wheel trimmed in Nappa leather with galvanised gear shift paddles affixed to the outer rim.

In keeping its sports focused setup, the 35 comes with the retuned AMG electro-mechanical power steering system and AMG sport suspension, the optional AMG Ride Control adaptive dampers and the AMG Dynamic Select system with five modes; Slippery and Comfort that falls under the ‘Basic’ AMG Dynamics readout on the infotainment system, Sport and Sport+ that grouped under the ‘Advanced’ banner and Individual.

Also upgraded are the brakes that are ventilated and comprises of a four-piston caliper arrangement at the front and single at the rear with the discs measuring 350 mm and 330 mm respectively.

While Mercedes-Benz is yet to confirm local availability, chances are that the standard GLA will touch down early next year with the 35 possibly arriving later if not ruled out in favour of the still-to-be revealed but confirmed GLA 45 and 45 S.

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