We take a new version of Merc’s baby SUV, the GLA 220d 4Matic Activity Edition, for a quick spin.
What is it?
The Mercedes-Benz GLA isn’t new. This small SUV, based on the company’s A-class platform, came to our shores a couple of years ago and delivered a competent soft-roader experience in the manageable dimensions of a largish hatchback. But the versions of the GLA available so far, lacked the chops to handle anything more than the mild dirt roads owing to the unavailability of four-wheel drive, with both the petrol and diesel variants being available only as front-wheel drives. Sure, the GLA 45 AMG does offer 4WD but that doesn’t really count, does it? However, Mercedes-Benz has decided to remedy this with the GLA 220d that finally comes equipped the company’s proprietary 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. This system can transfer up to 50 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels when required, and speaking of torque, it’s got more of that as well.
As the new badge indicates, this version a packs more powerful diesel engine, compared to the GLA 200d, although both cars share the same 2,143cc turbocharged four-cylinder block. A different state of tune allows this motor to churn out an extra 34 horses and a whopping 50Nm more than before, taking the peak horsepower and torque figures to 170hp and 350Nm respectively. To really highlight this GLA’s improved abilities, it also features an ‘Activity Edition’ moniker, which can be seen on discreet badges placed on the car’s flanks and floor mats. Along with 4Matic, the car also gets the off-road package that offers increased ground clearance. One thing Mercedes-Benz told us is that despite what the badging might suggest, this isn’t a limited-edition car, and the ‘Activity Edition’ name is to really differentiate from its front-wheel-drive siblings.
On the exterior, what sets the GLA 220d apart from its less-capable siblings are a set of black door decals, some extra bits of chrome, rain-sensing wipers, new 18-inch alloy wheels as well as a brand new colour option called Mountain Grey. The cabin, however, gets a lot of changes, including a new 8.0-inch multimedia screen at the centre of the dashboard, Apple CarPlay integration, keyless start along with a plethora of extra stowage spaces and cargo nets peppered all around. The boot also gets its fair share of upgrades with a powered tailgate, a 12V charging socket and the ability to free up extra 60 litres of space by tilting the rear seat backrests forward by 15-degrees. With a spare wheel hogging most of the boot, that extra space certainly sounds like a boon.
Just like the 200d, the GLA 220d is fairly feature-loaded and comes with seven airbags, satellite navigation, tyre pressure sensors, cruise control and even a neat panoramic sunroof. However, it doesn’t get automatic climate control, which really feels like a missed opportunity in this class of car.