Take you higher
I need a car that’s a little higher for ease of getting in and out and that has room for my mother’s walker and grandkids’ pusher. I found the Mercedes GLA a little small inside but I love the external look. I’m looking for a safe and economical car. I have a 13year-old Mercedes-Benz C200 Kompressor. SUVs with a sloping roofline are the in-thing right now. The theory is you get coupe styling with SUV space but often rear headroom is compromised. You can get around that by buying something like the GLC coupe, though it takes another $30,000 to liberate the extra space. The more practical GLC wagon will save you $10,000. Also consider high-end mainstream models such as Mazda’s CX-5 and the Hyundai Tucson.
CHOICES Mercedes GLA, from $43,600
The base Benz is designed to meet a price point but still comes with many features you’d want in a premium SUV. Default gear includes seven airbags, blind-spot monitoring, eight-inch infotainment screen with satnav, dual-zone aircon and semi-automated parking. Claimed fuel use is 5.7L/100km. I’d specify the $2264 driver assistance pack with adaptive cruise control and lanedeparture warning.
Infiniti QX30, from $48,900
The Infiniti is the GLA’s twinunder-the-skin so it packs the same sharp styling and driving dynamics. Standard all-wheel drive and a higher-output engine pushes the starting price above than the Merc and it’s thirstier at 6.9L/100km. Standard gear includes adaptive cruise control with auto emergency braking, seven-inch touchscreen with satnav and 10-speaker Bose audio. Brand recognition, or lack thereof, is still an issue for Infiniti — the otherwise well-specified QX30 should have sold more than 83 examples so far this year.
Audi Q3, from $42,900
Higher sides and a conventional SUV shape endow more headroom than in
the Benz, though the boot space isn’t as usable. This is the practical member of the Audi range (the Q2 fills the style-driven niche). There are ample engine and transmission options and the Q3, as with all Audis, feels painstakingly put together. The best of the Audi accessories generally come as extra-cost options. Petrol versions claim as little as 5.9L/100km and diesels 5.2L.
WILDCARD Lexus NX200t, from $53,550
The styling on the Lexus is as distinctive as the Benz, though for different reasons. The dimensions are conventional SUV; the front-on look is anything but. The front-wheel drive entry level will save you $4500 over the AWD version and use less fuel to boot; though claimed use of 7.7L/100km puts it at the thirstier end of this field. The NX is fitted with eight airbags, 10-speaker Pioneer audio, LED headlamps, satnav and tyre pressure monitor.
If part of the car-buying experience is to appreciate the looks of your vehicle, then you might have to accept the space compromise and go for the Mercedes GLA. The other options are derivative or conventional SUVs.