Mercedes GLA brings an added shot of panache to the compact luxury SUV segment. But does it drive as good as it looks?
In the luxury SUV space, Mercedes has a huge void below the Rs 55 lakh ML 250 CDI in which rivals like Audi, BMW, Land Rover and even Volvo have swooped in with smaller and cheaper SUVs. The big worry for Mercedes is that it is losing out on a new breed of affluent, first-time luxury SUV buyers who would typically move up the ladder with the same brand when it's time to upgrade. Which is why the launch of the Mercedes GLA due on September 30 won’t come a day too soon.
What is it?
In sharp contrast to the imposing GL, the boxy G-class and the solid looking M-class, the GLA stands at the opposite end of Mercedes’ SUV spectrum and when you walk up to it, it's quite obvious that Mercedes has deliberately avoided creating something that looks tough and rugged.The silhouette is more swoopy than upright and the rising beltline that kicks up at the rear to converge into the raked C-pillar and sloping roofline gives it a sleekness you don’t associate with an SUV.
There can be no doubt that the GLA is more of a crossover than a pukka SUV. In terms of dimensions too, the GLA is the size of a luxury hatchback but the crossover treatment of plastic cladding for the doorsills and wheelarches, aluminium roof rails and chrome scuff guards makes it look much larger than it is. What gives the GLA its quasi-SUV credentials are the large 18-inch wheels and 183mm ground clearance.