Mercedes breaks the compact SUV mould with a car that has lots of impressive qualities.
This is the new Mercedes GLA crossover – an interesting car for all sorts of reasons, and a rival for the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. This is more of a crossover hatchback than a compact SUV – it has up to 185mm of ground clearance, but the silhouette and driving position of a fairly large hatchback rather than of a typical 4x4.
The car you see here is a GLA 200 CDI, which comes with front-wheel-drive and a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearboxes (Indian cars are likely to get only the auto). Power comes from an up-rated version of the same 2,143cc turbo-diesel used in the A 180 CDI and B 180 CDI, which in this car makes 134bhp and 30.55kgm of torque. India is also slated to get the GLA 220 CDI, which uses the same engine, but with outputs of 168bhp and 35.67kgm.
It’s refined, economical, comfortable and pleasant – albeit not as practical and convenient as some. Mercedes’ 2.1-litre diesel is a good choice for the GLA, showing off much better manners under the bonnet of this compact crossover than it does in other applications.
The engine is a little bit clattery at idle and shudders slightly on restart, but is quiet and smooth at normal operating revs, and even revs with a commendable lack of coarseness. It hits its peak torque at just 1,400rpm, and is seldom short on pulling power or insistent on a lower gear to negotiate a short climb or a typical highway overtake.