Mercedes-Benz’ A-Class family is expanding with the global premiere at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show of the production version of the compact GLA-Class crossover. The GLA is in the same market sector as the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
Mercedes had indicated that the A-Class’ modular MFA platform (which technically but confusingly also embraces the B-Class) would form the basis of several versions, and the rise in compact SUV popularity in recent years, particularly in Europe, guaranteed that the lineup would include the body type.
While carrying the signature design of the core A-Class, the GLA is noticeably bigger and distinctively different, with enhanced load capability. Its specification includes optional 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive (previously described by AEI at http://www.sae.org/mags/aei/11681).
Compared with the A-Class, the GLA-Class sees increases in overall length by 125 mm (4.9 in) to 4417 mm (173.9 in), width by 24 mm (0.9 in) to 1804 mm (71.0 in), and height by 61 mm (2.4 in) to 1494 mm (58.8 in). Seat height is about 40 mm (1.6 in) higher. Minimum luggage area capacity rises from 341 to 421 L (12.0 to 14.9 ft³).
The car, revealed in concept form at the Shanghai Motor Show earlier this year, has a flexible interior configuration with rear-seat backrests that are angle adjustable but can also be folded down completely. An option is a Load Compartment Package, facilitating the backrest position to be steepened to add 60 L (2 ft3) of load space but still enabling the seating to be used by passengers. The load sill is low; the tailgate is available with automatic opening.
A major aspect of the A-Class family is aerodynamic efficiency, with a best Cd of 0.22 for the C180 BlueEfficiency Edition version of the CLA, and the GLA achieves a best Cd figure of 0.29—very good for this vehicle type. Frontal area is 0.66 m² (7.1 ft²). A roof spoiler lip, low A-pillar step, aerodynamically optimized exterior mirror housings, and careful attention to rear lamp shaping all contribute to reduced drag.
GLA noise reduction includes multilevel door sealing, particularly of the joint between tailgate and roof. Side seals have also received added attention, as has window frame rigidity, which helps to reduce noise levels.
The 4Matic version has a rear axle carrier isolated with bushings to improve ride comfort. Suspension incorporates MacPherson struts front and multilink rear. Compared to other members of the A-Class family, the GLA has additional reinforcement of the B-pillars, front damper domes, side members, and underbody.
Having fully variable torque distribution and with an electrohydraulically controlled multidisc clutch, the 4Matic drives through a seven-speed dual-clutch 7G-DCT transmission. The transmission is available on two-wheel-drive models with a six-speed manual alternative for some versions.
Complementing the 4Matic is DSR (downhill speed regulation), a button-selected feature using joint engine, transmission, and braking.
Off-road auto transmission mode is also selectable; this adapts accelerator and gearshift operation. Dashboard displays via the Comand online screen provide the driver with added vehicle status information when offroad, including steering angle, selected transmission mode, roll angle, gradient in percentage form, and a compass.
Engines cover a range of diesel and gasoline units. The diesel GLA 200 CDI with 300-N·m (221-lb·ft) of torque from 1400 to 4000 rpm and a power output of 100 kW (134 hp) can achieve 4.3 L/100 km and 114 g/km of CO2 emissions with six-speed manual transmission.
The high-performance gasoline GLA 250 4Matic with 155 kW (208 hp) has a 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of only 6.5 s. Top speed is 233 km/h (145 mph) and combined fuel consumption 7.1 L/100 km.
The GLA is available with Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which has several features to help reduce the risk of an impact. These include a scenario in which autonomous braking will be applied at speeds up to 200 km/h (124 mph) if the driver is not deemed to be reacting sufficiently quickly.
A very-high-performance GLA 45 AMG is expected to be added to the range.