2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA Review

The Mercedes-Benz GLA compact crossover gets a redesign for 2018, making it look more SUV-like. The refresh arrives four years after the GLA was presented for the first time. Since 2013, the company says the vehicle has served as a model of success in a segment it has shaped and redefined. Because the GLA was the first compact SUV from Mercedes-Benz, it holds a special place in the company’s heart. That’s why Mercedes-Benz went the extra mile to update the vehicle for 2018. The new GLA was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and will go on sale this summer.

Exterior

Changes to the GLA’s look include modified bumpers, new wheel designs and a new exterior “Canyon Beige” color. High performance LED headlights are also now available. They come standard on the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 and are optional on the base Mercedes-Benz GLA250. They’re characterized by a color temperature similar to daylight and the company says they relieve the strain on your eyes when driving in dark conditions. They’re also more efficient than xenon and halogen headlights. They consume around 60 percent less energy than xenon and 70 percent less than halogen. In the rear, it’s now easy to access the trunk thanks to an optional feature that opens and closes the compartment with the wave of a foot.

The GLA45 definitely looks more aggressive than the base model. Features that set its exterior apart include a front bumper that was given an even more dynamic shape, “new air intake grilles, a front splitter insert in silver chrome plus flics in high-gloss black.” A multi-spoke 20-inch light-alloy wheel is available with the trim in two different colors: painted matte black with high-sheen rim flange or painted titanium grey with a high-sheen finish. Mercedes-Benz says even the rear of the redesigned GLA45 is impressive.

“Eye-catching features at the tail end are the new diffuser insert in the rear bumper, the trim in silver chrome and the new spoiler lip on the roof spoiler which help to improve the driving dynamics of the new GLA45,” writes the company.

It can be made to look even sportier with the AMG Performance Studio Package. Vehicles that have the package are painted in “Night Black” or “Cosmos Black” with yellow trim and AMG sport stripes in matte gray.

Interior

Upgrades to the 2018 GLA’s interior include new seat covers, trim parts and chromed control panels. A major focal point is the free-standing 8-inch media display that’s slim and easy to read. It’s also how you can check out the vehicle’s surroundings if you opt for the available 360-degree camera. You can either view what’s around the vehicle in a full-image depiction or in seven different split-screen views on the display. There’s even a virtual top view of the vehicle. Other highlights of the interior include chrome accents and more strongly accentuated air conditioning vent rings, which Mercedes-Benz says gives the interior more of an SUV-look. You can also still choose to add sport seats with the 2018 GLA if desired.

As for the GLA45, its dashboard is covered as standard with MB-Tex and was given exclusive highlights with red contrast topstitching. Mercedes-Benz says other highlights of the GLA45’s interior include the generously sized trim and redesigned instrument cluster.

Performance

The base GLA250 comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that delivers 208 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. It’s able to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 7.1 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph. It comes with standard front-wheel drive and optional variable all-wheel drive. Meanwhile, the GLA450 churns out 375 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. According to Mercedes-Benz, the Handcrafted AMG 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo puts the GLA450 among the most powerful cars in its segment. It’s able to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph or 167 mph with the AMG Dynamic Plus Package.

“On the road the turbocharged, Handcrafted AMG 2.0L four-cylinder engine thrills with extremely fast responses to accelerator movements, high torque, enormous flexibility and an emotional engine note,” writes the company.

The engine is paired with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 7-speed sport transmission.

“Thanks to shorter ratios selected in gears three to seven, the driver senses an even more appealing acceleration experience in all speed ranges,” writes the company. “Together with optimized response and shift times, the closer ratio spread ensures better transitions when upshifting.”

The standard all-wheel drive AMG Performance 4MATIC system, meanwhile, transfers the drive power to all wheels.

While the GLA45’s powertrain is certainly powerful, it sounds even sportier with the optional AMG Performance Exhaust System. It can be regulated via selection of the drive program or by a switch.

Safety

The GLA comes with Active Brake Assist as standard. The system comes in handy if a vehicle abruptly stops in front of you. That’s because it will warn you if there’s not enough distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front. If the system detects that you’re not reacting fast enough, it will initiate autonomous braking in order to prevent a collision or help minimize the consequences of a collision. It also comes standard with Attention Assist. The system can detect when you’re too drowsy to drive by monitoring the steering behavior. It will then alert you. That way, you’ll know it’s time to either pull over to get some sleep or stop to pick up a coffee. 

As we mentioned before, the optional 360-degree camera gives the driver a top down view of the entire vehicle’s surroundings.

Our Take

While the base GLA definitely received some great updates for 2018, it seems that Mercedes-Benz placed more emphasis on taking the GLA450 to the next level than the GLA250. It definitely has a sportier and more aggressive look. It comes with plenty of power for its small size and we assume, will continue to be a solid performer for Mercedes-Benz. Again, the 2018 GLA will go on sale this summer. 

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