The Mercedes-Benz GLA is now a proper SUV

UPDATE: We’ve got price details and more for the new GLA and if you want to lead our local test drive report of the GLA 200 Progressive, click here!

STUTTGART, GERMANY — The second iteration of the Mercedes-Benz GLA small luxury sport utility vehicle (SUV) has been unveiled by the German luxury brand.

The new GLA is expected to arrive in Singapore in the first half of 2020, with the gasoline-powered GLA 200 and GLA 35 AMG models slated for launch in the Lion City. 

The new GLA joins the Mercedes-Benz small car lineup as the eight and final model (for now), following the A-Class sedan, A-Class sedan long wheelbase (China only), A-Class hatchback, the B-Class MPV, the CLA four-door coupe, CLA Shooting Brake, and GLB seven-seat SUV

The GLA is the last of the compact models to reach a new generation, and like those cars just mentioned, it runs on the improved MFA2 front-wheel drive architecture that features a larger footprint for increased space, a new drivetrain and totally new interior and driver interface.

More space was what the GLA always needed. Although termed an SUV, it was one of the least tall cars in its class, and it felt more like a small hatchback than a crossover.

The new model corrects those faults right off the bat: At 4,410mm long, 1,834mm wide, and 1,611mm tall, the new car is 14mm shorter, but is 30mm wider, a whole 104mm taller, and has a 30mm longer wheelbase. 

Mercedes claims big increases to interior room to match – rear legroom opens up by a generous 116mm, rear shoulder and elbow room increase by more than 40mm. Front headroom dips a little, by six mm, but shoulder and elbow room are increased.

The rear loading aperture is 85mm wider, and 27mm deeper, and the boot size increases 14-litres to 435-litres in total. More utility is added with variable second row seats (adjustable for backrest angle and with a 40/20/40 split-fold) and boot floor. 

Mercedes has also taken steps to make it feel more SUV-like to drive – it says the seating position is higher this time around, and more upright, while the A-pillars block less of the driver’s vision. 

The rest of the improvements will be in line with what we’ve seen with the A-Class and the rest of the small Mercedes models – dual 10.25-inch screens, one for instrument display and the other a touchscreen that’s the centrepiece of the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Interface) infotainment system, which also has advanced voice control.

Watch more: What about a more spacious GLA with seven seats? The GLB is what you need..

The GLA 200 shown here in Edition 1 Progressive trim

Powering the base GLA 200 model will be the 1.33-litre turbocharged 163hp engine, again seen throughout the small Merc range, with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox sending power to the front wheels. 0-100km/h is achieved in 8.7 seconds, with a 210km/h top speed. Initial efficiency figures stand at approximately 5.8L/100km and 134g/km.

In line with what we’ve seen in Singapore for the other small Mercedes models, we can expect there to be Progressive and AMG Line variants of the GLA 200. Shown above in grey is the Edition One AMG Line model, which has special wheels and red highlights.

Like the GLB, the range-topper will be the 2.0-litre Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 model, which has all-wheel drive to better utilise its 306hp and 400Nm of torque. That delivers 0-100km/h in a quick 5.1-seconds and a top speed of 250km/h. 

The GLA was its first small SUV in history, debuting in 2013 it was able to cash in on the crossover craze. In Singapore, the GLA 180 with its Category A Certificate of Entitlement (COE) eligible 1.6-litre 122hp engine was a particularly strong seller, and whether the new model can replicate that success is less certain, since it’s not Cat A eligible. 

What complicates the picture further in 2020 is the GLB – the GLA’s larger, seven-seat brother that could be priced very close to the GLA and would certainly be more of a default choice for one-car Singaporean families. 

about the author

Derryn Wong
CarBuyer's chief editor has a keen interest in all things mechanical, technological, animal and mineral. He's particularly fascinated by eco-cars and cars which make no logical sense. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he also enjoys cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong