Mercedes-Benz GLA: Com­pact, util­i­tar­ian luxe

P3.29-M cross­over is en­try point into three-pointed star’s SUV port­fo­lio

Business World - - Velocity - By An­gel Rivero

SUVS HAVE al­ways been ex­tremely pop­u­lar in the Philip­pine au­to­mo­tive mar­ket and, as of late, we’ve been ob­serv­ing a tremen­dous up­surge of buyer in­ter­est in the sub­com­pact cross­over cat­e­gory. These “cuter” seg­ment in-be­tween­ers are cheaper to ac­quire, eas­ier to park, and still man­age to of­fer a lot of the con­ve­niences that many mo­torists seek in SUVs. This cus­tomer in­ter­est is like­wise re­flected in the lux­ury seg­ment, and Mercedes-Benz Philip­pines has promptly re­sponded to this in­ter­est by com­plet­ing its lineup of new SUVs with the re­cent launch of its sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion GLA.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is the three- pointed star brand’s en­try point into its fam­ily of SUV mod­els. It rounds off the Mod­u­lar Front Ar­chi­tec­ture ( MFA) lineup of ve­hi­cles, and is proudly built in its Ras­tatt, Ger­many plant. The ve­hi­cle now of­fers more space, ad­vanced safety fea­tures, and added char­ac­ter. In its crosshairs are young pro­fes­sion­als and young fam­i­lies who are seek­ing to buy their first lux­ury car.

This lat­est GLA is now 1,611mm tall ( plus an ex­tra 5mm, if you fac­tor in the roof rails), in­creas­ing its height by more than 10cm com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sor. Its GLA 200 AMG Line avail­able here show­cases a sportier look, with an AMG body styling com­ing with a di­a­mond ra­di­a­tor grill fea­tur­ing pins em­bel­lished in chrome. It also flaunts 19-inch, twin- spoke light- al­loy wheels, and roof rails made of pol­ished alu­minum. In­side the cabin, the driver can en­joy the lux­ury of a multi-func­tion sports steer­ing wheel that is wrapped in beau­ti­ful Nappa leather. The seats of both the driver and the front pas­sen­ger are also more up­right and higher than the seats in its pre­de­ces­sor — adding to this ren­di­tion’s more SUV-like feel.

The ve­hi­cle’s rear seats can be split 40: 20:40 to pro­vide more ver­sa­til­ity when it comes to stor­age space and for ac­com­mo­dat­ing ir­reg­u­larly sized cargo. Pe­tite in­di­vid­u­als like my­self will def­i­nitely ap­pre­ci­ate the low boot sill, which makes load­ing heavy cargo into the rear sig­nif­i­cantly eas­ier. As a mat­ter of fact, its lug­gage com­part­ment height can be ad­justed in two stages, thanks to its con­tin­u­ous floor con­sole.

As the new GLA is now bolder, sportier, and more dy­nam­i­cally de­signed, the ve­hi­cle is also paired with the brand’s pro­pri­etary MBUX or Mercedes-Benz User Ex­pe­ri­ence. This is a mod­ern mul­ti­me­dia sys­tem that al­lows sev­eral users to set and save their own pro­files. The sys­tem fea­tures a seven-inch in­stru­ment and me­dia dis­play screen with its own in­tel­li­gent voice as­sis­tant that the car oc­cu­pants may in­ter­act with, sim­ply by us­ing the key words: “Hey Mercedes!”

Need­less to say, the new-age MBUX also sup­ports Ap­ple CarPlay and An­droid Auto as stan­dard, along­side the ma­jor apps that are com­monly used for nav­i­ga­tion. More­over, less driver dis­trac­tion is also pro­moted with the ve­hi­cle’s com­pre­hen­sive touch op­er­a­tion con­cept — which is sort of a com­bi­na­tion of a touch­screen on the car’s cen­ter con­sole and equiv­a­lent touch but­tons on the car’s steer­ing wheel.

Pow­er­ing the GLA 200 AMG line is a 1.3-liter, tur­bocharged en­gine that spits out 163hp and 250Nm of torque. It is matched with a 7G dual-clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, and comes stan­dard as a front-wheel drive. Of course, one of its most en­joy­able driv­ing fea­tures is the car’s Dy­namic Se­lect, which al­lows the driver to choose from sev­eral drive set­tings which in­clude: Eco, Com­fort, Sport, and In­di­vid­ual (cus­tom).

Aside from its smaller-dis­place­ment en­gine, the GLA also has an Eco Start-Stop sys­tem that helps the user save on fuel and cut down on his/ her car­bon emis­sions.

Fi­nally, Mercedes-Benz has al­ways been lauded for its ex­cep­tional safety fea­tures, and the GLA has its good share of ad­vanced safety tech­nolo­gies. The Mercedes-Benz In­tel­li­gent Drive sys­tem in­cludes fea­tures such as: Ac­tive Brake As­sist, which is au­ton­o­mous brak­ing ap­plied to as­sist the driver dur­ing an im­mi­nent col­li­sion; At­ten­tion As­sist, which alerts the driver when­ever the car de­tects signs of drowsi­ness or inat­ten­tive­ness from the driver; and Ac­tive Park­ing As­sist, which sup­ports the driver dur­ing park­ing ma­neu­vers with as­sists and a re­verse cam­era. A tire pres­sure loss warn­ing sys­tem also comes in handy to im­me­di­ately in­form the driver if any of his/ her tires are run­ning low on air pres­sure, even while driv­ing.

The in­tro­duc­tory price of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA is pegged at P3,290,000. MercedesBe­nz Philip­pines also hints that the high- per­for­mance GLA 35 AMG is likely to ar­rive in the coun­try some­time in 2021.

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