When Mercedes initially debuted the little GLA crossover, we were a bit skeptical of how it would feel and drive. Could a tiny, inexpensive Mercedes truly be premium? Fast-forward five years and lots of miles driven, and we've come to enjoy the smallest Benz SUV. That's why we're excited to welcome the newest version of the GLA that Mercedes debuted Wednesday, alongside another AMG variant.
While most of the design changes are subtle, they are important. Specifically, the GLA has grown slightly in nearly all directions (except length), and that has resulted in more headroom for front passengers and lots more legroom for whoever you shove in the back seats.
The GLA's styling changes have also paid dividends in other ways, namely in how it slips through the air. The US-spec GLA250 will have a drag coefficient of just 0.30 which, while not as sleek as something like a Tesla Model S, isn't bad for an SUV. Of course, less aerodynamic drag means better fuel economy.
Other significant changes come in the form of electronics. Specifically, Mercedes has packed tons of new safety tech into the GLA, which is always a welcome thing, especially for a relatively affordable car. This includes a new exit safety function to help avoid hitting cyclists and an automatic emergency braking system that works at speeds up to 37 mph.
The optional Driver Assistance Package brings a ton more tech to the table and is something that we'd consider almost mandatory for buyers, even just for the convenience factor. Specifically, you get Mercedes' super-smart Distronic adaptive cruise control, active steering assist, active speed-limit assist that will automatically adjust your speed for things like sharp corners and roundabouts, blind-spot assist, lane-keep assist and more.
Other tech highlights include the GLA's move to Mercedes' new-ish. We've really appreciated that Benz has opted to start putting MBUX in first and then working up the price ladder.
MBUX packs tons of functionality into a handsome display and is significantly easier to use and snappier than the older COMAND system found in other, earlier Mercedes products. In the GLA it's available with either two 7-inch displays or, if you opt for the widescreen version, dual 10.25-inch displays.
The GLA250 and GLA250 4Matic come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes a perfectly serviceable 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which get routed through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Buyers looking for something zestier can opt for the Mercedes-AMG GLA35, which brings 302 hp and 295 lb-ft to the party along with standard all-wheel drive. The GLA35 also gets an eight-speed transmission in the form of a dual-clutch box that helps it reach 60 mph in just five seconds.
What else do you get if you decide to go with the AMG version? Stiffer, fancier suspension for one. You also get selectable AMG-tuned terrain control settings for your dirt road hooliganism, bigger brakes, a unique steering rack and a louder exhaust with flaps in it.
Now, Mercedes expects to have the GLA250 out sometime in the summer of 2020 and we'd expect the GLA35 to rear its little head sometime around the end of 2020. Mercedes is being cagey about pricing, but we wouldn't expect a huge price jump from the current model GLA250's $34,250 starting price, and we'd be surprised if the AMG version isn't cheaper than the GLA45's $53,350.