What is it?
This is the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4Matic. Mercedes is well known for its conventional, entry-premium urban vehicle line-up and this has been a favourite among young buyers over the years. Indeed, this model first appeared in 2013. Its competitors are the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, although the slightly smaller Audi Q2 and less high-end, but spacious, VW Tiguan are worth a mention in this category.
The GLA 250 comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 211 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque, fed through a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive.
If you’re familiar with the GLA-Class, the first thing you will notice in the 2018 model is its mid-cycle refresh, which updates styling by making use of high-quality materials, adds some new standard features, and further modifies some option packages. We like the revamp as it makes the GLA look better than it ever has. The new LED tail lights and remodelled front and rear bumpers look fabulous. With this version, you can also expect a cleaner-looking design, new 18- and 19-inch wheel designs, and LED headlamps that replace the Bi-Xenons that were previously fitted.
How does it drive?
The GLA 250 comes as standard with the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, which apportions 100% of the power to the front wheels by default for better fuel efficiency, and can send up to 50% to the rear when required. Steering response is immediate, and thanks to the 4-matic all-wheel drive, it grips rough ground progressively, ensuring a steadier ride. When the car is idling at the traffic lights, the stop-start engine aids the attractively low fuel consumption, switching back to Eco mode if you are in Sport mode.
We love the GLA’s compactness that makes it an ideal city car; easy to park in small spots. Having said that, the Parking Pilot system, which is a standard option for GCC specifications, is not something you will need to use frequently. It is, however, notable that the thick B-Pillar is a hassle while changing lanes and will require you to turn your head more than usual to do a quick blind spot check.
Interior quality and tech
The GLA has never been particularly roomy in the past, and the 2018 model is no different. However, there’s abundant space in the front for two adults of above average size. But leg and headroom are at a premium for the rear seats probably because the panoramic sunroof fitted to the GLA 250 we drove robbed us of precious headroom. Boot space isn’t an issue, though, as you can drop the GLA’s 60/40 split-folding rear seats to have extra room for luggage. There’s also a ski hatch that lets you place longer items through the middle rear seat while the outer rear seats can still comfortably accommodate passengers. An electrically powered boot lid is also a desirable standard feature across the range.
SE trim gets you a 7-inch colour display positioned high up on the dashboard, which makes it easy to operate as you don’t have to divert your eyes from the road a lot. Navigating the on-screen functions is made effortless thanks to the rotary dial situated between the front seats. You also get a reverse camera as standard on all models, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The GLA 250 will cost you AED 193,960. For insurance, you’re looking at anything between AED 3,400 and AED 5,000 for a fully comprehensive policy. Fuel economy is 6.6 l/100 km. Thanks to the fuel tank capacity of 56 litres, you’re looking at a theoretical range of 750 km between fill-ups. Not bad for a compact SUV at all.
Even though there is a debate over what this crossover offers that a regular A-Class doesn’t, other than better ability to tackle mildly rough ground, we reckon that the GLA 250 offers an attractive entry-level price so you can get in on the three-star action without exploding your bank account.