Why would I buy it?
- Interior look and feel
- Diesel engine performance & efficiency
Why would I avoid it?
- Rear seat accommodation
- Stiff ride
What is it?
Introduced in 2014, the Mercedes-Benz GLA has turned now 10. To commemorate its first decade of presence, this is the new and updated 2024 GLA-Class. It is part of the update offensive Mercedes Benz India is on right now and comes quick on the heels of the refreshed GLS and GLE.
Let’s talk about all the changes on this updated GLA. As usual, the new GLA is available in two trims - Progressive Line and AMG Line. In Progressive Line, the grille wears vertical louvres; while in the AMG line, you get the chrome-finished studs. Even the bumpers on the former feel more premium as compared to the sporty-looking ones here on AMG Line.
The most prominent change for this update comes in the form of a revised lighting signature for the LED headlamps and tail-lamps. You also get these thick-five-spoke 19-inch wheels in the AMG Line along with air diffusers lower down the rear bumper flanked by elliptical (fake) exhaust tips.
Is the cabin of the 2024 GLA any good?
Not much has changed on the inside in terms of design and layout. But you do get two themes here. The steering in the Progressive variant gets you Mercedes’ V5 design which feels more premium, but here in AMG Line, the flat-bottom, dual-spoke, red-stitched steering wheel looks and feels fantastic. It also feels better to operate the screen through these buttons compared to the older steering. The seats are sportscar-like with supportive bolsters and come draped in an Alcantara-like microfibre/Artico leather combination. They don’t get cooled or massage function though, which could have been a good inclusion with this update.
Another big change here is the elimination of the traditional trackpad. There’s this barely usable recess in its place now and I found myself repeatedly trying to operate the infotainment screen via the touchpad. It can’t store a phone and isn't a place to fit a wallet. You can perhaps use it to place some cards or coins. Although there’s no touchpad now, the MBUX interface you get here is the latest one offered across the range. This means there are 3D maps now along with Car-to-X connectivity both of which we first saw in the new S-Class and C-Class. It also has a gaming console where you can play simple arcade games like Sudoku, Pairs and Shuffle Puck.
The update also brings some useful features such as keyless entry, hands-free tailgate, active parking, wireless smartphone integration, TPMS and a 360-degree camera. In terms of advanced driver-assist hardware, it gets front collision warning and brake assist, adaptive high beam, blind-spot assist and cruise control.
Meanwhile, getting in the second row takes a slight effort because of the tight entrance. But once inside the same micro-fibre draped seats feel properly premium. The support offered here is nice, and the amount of space is also good, especially helped by the sculpted seats and tall roof line. Moreover, second-row passengers get a dedicated glass roof. There are also air vents at the back, but no separate zone here. For USBs, there’s a slot lower down. Sadly, there are no cupholders and folding armrests here, which were offered in the outgoing version.
Is the GLA 220d 4Matic good to drive?
Now this is simply an update. So changes to the powertrain are none. Internationally, this update brought in an updated plug-in hybrid powertrain to the GLA line-up, but here in India you only get standard petrol and diesel engine options. What we are driving here is the 220d version, which has a 2.0-litre turbodiesel under the hood. It can be had with front-wheel drive as standard or what we have here with the 4Matic AWD system. In either case, the transmission is the newer eight-speed DCT. And this four-pot diesel puts out a healthy 188bhp and 400Nm.
You’d be hard-pressed to believe this is a diesel unit as there are no vibrations or diesel clatter whatsoever. This diesel is quite refined and smooth – both on idling and once you get going. There’s a huge reserve of torque, especially lower down the rev range. And this torque is effortlessly put down on the tarmac thanks to the lightning-quick DCT gearbox. The dual-clutch unit can row through the gears without a hint of jerk or delay. And when stomped hard on the throttle, the dam gates open at around 3500 rpm and the torque reserve comes flooding in.
Unlike the GLE and the GLS, the GLA has a Sport mode. However, the changes to the system when you switch between drive modes are barely noticeable - which doesn’t matter anyway as in any mode, the GLA is eager. The 0-100kmph time is a little over seven seconds in its sportiest setting and that’s impressive for a diesel family crossover. Apart from Eco, Normal and Sport, you also get a dedicated off-road mode, which does alter the traction and power sent to the wheels, and how the 4Matic works. But behind the wheel, this mode gives you confidence to take the beaten path, if not more.
This diesel is also a frugal one. In our tested CarWale fuel test, the GLA 220d returned a real-world mileage of 15.14kmpl in the city and around 22kmpl on the highway. This gives a combined real-world mileage of a little over 17kmpl. Going two and a half turns lock-to-lock, the steering response is quick and direct. There’s some amount of understeer when you try to take a corner carrying more speed than required. But there’s always a high level of grip that does come to your rescue every time.
If you want a well-absorbent and pliant ride, you should look at the smaller 18-inch wheel version because here in the AMG Line, the ride quality is on the stiffer side. You feel all the irregularities and bumps and creases, but it's not exactly jarring and only the sharpest ones are filtered inside the cabin. But overall, the suspension setup is superb if you like a well-sprung car that is also fun to drive when pushed hard.
Should you buy the GLA 220d?
What works in the GLA’s favour is its pampering cabin, handsome looks which will age well, up-to-date feature list that makes life slightly easier than before, and not only a solid performance but the efficiency from its diesel powertrain.
On the flip side, Mercedes-Benz could have utilised this update to bring in more prominent changes both inside and out – specifically the styling could have been tweaked a bit. And at its price point, Indian buyers do expect features like ADAS to be part of the package. That said, at the end of the day, if you decide to put your money down for your first entry-level, German luxury SUV, you cannot go wrong with the GLA.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi