Vital Stats

Turbo 2.0L I4
208 HP / 258 LB-FT
7-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
7.0 Seconds (est.)
Top Speed:
143 MPH
All-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
3,318 LBS
43.6 CU-FT (max)
25 City / 36 HWY (est.)
Base Price:
$31,000 (est.)
We all knew that Mercedes-Benz couldn't afford to resist the small SUVover segment for much longer. After all, it seems to be the fastest-growing segment in the galaxy, and in particular, it's the premium niche of that class – led by the hugely successful Land Rover Evoque and BMW X1 – that is making these smaller vehicles more viable and attractive. Off we go, then, in this spanking-new 2015 GLA250 4Matic, Mercedes' take on this still somewhat amorphous genre.

Is this a tall A-Class, or more of a scrunched CLA-Class? True to its crossing-over nature, this taller GLA configuration is honestly a healthy mix of both A- and CLA-Class while being more practical than either. It is 9.4 inches shorter than the CLA-Class coupe/sedan-with-trunk and 4.9 inches longer than the overseas A-Class hatchback. At 71.0-inches wide, it ever so slightly outspans its compact cousins, too. Our North America-specific height of 60.0 inches (It's 58.8-inches tall in Europe and elsewhere) is roughly 3.5 inches taller than A- and CLA-Class offerings. That's because our GLA250 will get the usually optional Off-Road Comfort chassis height fitted as standard, in part because we like sitting up higher, SUV-style. Just as importantly, that extra height allows the GLA the advantages of being classified as a light truck. Fear not: the AMG version will get the lower global height for better on-road dynamics.

Regardless, the GLA doesn't flirt too much with stretching the bounds of the term "compact," and that's a good thing. Stated cargo room for the range is pretty good, too, with 14.9 cubic feet expandable to 29.5 with the rear seats folded flat. Mercedes states that the space can reach an effective 43.6 cubic feet when filled to the rafters and with the front passenger chair forward as far as possible.

It's no great surprise that plans are afoot to emphasize the GLA's "lifestyle" attributes, as well as its customizability. While Mercedes-Benz North America won't go so far as to offer the eleven wheel styles available in European markets, we will get three sharp designs for non-AMG civilian trims – a standard 18-inch, a typical chiseled five-spoke 19-inch AMG design that goes with the Sport Package, and a third really handsome standalone 19-inch option. Then there is a range of six leather trims, four types of interior detailing and eleven exterior paint colors. Plus, as is all the rage in most German premium cars today, you get multi-color ambient lighting to set the proper mood in the cabin.
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic

It's not completely out of its element on fire roads and light-duty trails.

The GLA is also Mercedes' first front-wheel-drive-biased crossover, so even in 4Matic trim, this isn't a vehicle to help you dance over the Rubicon. This latest 4Matic application, does, however, slide seamlessly into a maximum 50:50 front-to-rear torque split, and it also possesses multi-mode stability control with side-to-side brake torque vectoring, the latter coming into play when the vehicle is set to Sport mode. The GLA can also provide a more off-road-friendly calibration for the 7G-Tronic dual-clutch transmission along with a hill descent control function, so it's not completely out of its element on fire roads and light-duty trails.

The aforementioned additional 1.2 inches of vehicle height gives North American models better ground clearance versus the Euro-spec model tested here, too. In order to keep the GLA looking too much like a run-of-the-mill hatchback, Mercedes has fitted matte-finish, anti-scratch cladding all around the vehicle's lower perimeter, and the available front and rear skid plates are purely cosmetic – more for deflecting airborne pebbles than turning away radiator-gouging rocks. But Mercedes also had us out on an off-road course, and we were legitimately impressed with what the GLA 4Matic managed to pull off when equipped with proper tires. The added off-road display gauges for the Off-Road Comfort setup – incline, side-to-side incline, steering angle, compass, off-road transmission mode, etc., were welcome bits of kit, as well.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic

The GLA's class-leading 0.29 coefficient of drag is a benefit for both reduced cabin racket and better fuel efficiency.

Given that we've enjoyed a mostly positive relationship with Mercedes' new front-wheel-drive A- and CLA-Class with this same M270 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, we expected to be pleased with the turbocharged and direct-injected unit in the GLA, tuned here for 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Curb weight in 4Matic trim is 3,318 pounds – just 110 more than the front-driver GLA250 and 88 pounds more than a CLA250 4Matic. On southern Spain's hilly and entertaining driving roads, the GLA250 4Matic would avail itself beyond our natural expectations for a small crossover, in much the same way that both the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 continue to impress us. The Land Rover Evoque may be the style leader among these tough premium tykes, but the GLA gives it a run for its money while also being more spacious inside.

0-60 for this top non-AMG-spec GLA is officially listed at 7.0 seconds, but in manual mode with the optional AMG steering wheel and its attendant shift paddles, 6.5 seconds seems very doable. Benz's still-new compact modular chassis is once again pleasantly rigid, while the three control arms and one trailing arm at each corner turn the GLA into a surprisingly accomplished driver's unit. The GLA's class-leading 0.29 coefficient of drag is also a pleasant benefit for both reduced cabin racket and better fuel efficiency, the latter of which is estimated at 25 miles per gallon city and 36 mpg highway.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic Cargo Space | Autoblog Short Cuts

This new GLA goes about its business very well, yet it doesn't really stand out as something entirely new.

Running the GLA250 4Matic through its paces as best we could, we found a healthy amount of front-end push in hotter turns, though the new 4Matic is definitely a quick-thinking and sophisticated system that works hard to deliver the best handling possible for a front-biased all-wheel drive setup. Where this model really excels is when the weather goes less cooperative; on the slick road surfaces in this part of the world, the newly lightweight 4Matic system allowed us to literally pull through while carrying more speed than we thought possible. Our optional 19-inch wheels with Goodyear EfficientGrip treads – 235/45R19 95V front and rear – did well overall, though we can't help but wonder how well the standard 18-inchers might have felt. The only potential downside to these smaller wheels would be their inevitable "flood pants" look in the GLA's jacked-up wheel wells.

The essential takeaway from our Spanish drive day is that this new GLA goes about its business very well, yet it doesn't really stand out as something entirely new. The GLA45 AMG or turbodiesel GLA220 CDI 4Matic, on the other hand, both leap out as bolder and more interesting choices. Sadly and predictably, the former will cost markedly more than the estimated $31,000 or so for the base 250 4Matic, while the other is not slated for North America at all. Would it be more genuine if Mercedes called its GLA a hatchback or wagon, as some have suggested? No, because it's really neither. And Audi has already copped the Sportback name, a made-up term that admittedly works well.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic

So far, we're in the early days of the compact premium CUV movement in North America. Europe has been hosting models like the Q3 and X1 a lot longer, so it will be interesting to see if this segment really heats up in our market. Based on the attributes of this new GLA, we're predicting strong early returns for the Three-Pointed Star when it arrives this September and even bigger sales when a dedicated front-drive model shows up in March of 2015. It may not be the most distinctive player in the segment, but the GLA is very well rounded, and that balance means it ought to hold enough appeal to land on many buyers' consideration lists.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 1 Year Ago
      Its nice looking, but this thing is teeny. Perfect starter MB I suppose, if you have to have one.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dang it Volvo. If you would have started selling the V40 here you could have been the trend setter for this kind of thing with the V40 Cross Country.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I haven't seen one in person but it must be pretty small. You mention the cargo space " is pretty good, too, with 14.9 cubic feet expandable to 29.5 with the rear seats folded flat." I bopped over to the Mazda3 five door spec page. It lists 20.2 behind the seats and 47.1 with the second row folded. That means that this GLA is indeed quite small. I had the Mazda3 on my list of cars to eventually downsize to and was curious about the GLA. But the Mazda3 already seems tight on space for me. That means this GLA would most likely be off my list. Which is too bad because it is a very attractive looking vehicle with nice performance. It will be interesting to see how/if people cross shop this to larger alternatives in the same price range, such as the Lincoln MKC or even a loaded Jeep Cherokee.
        • 1 Year Ago
        Wow.. great research! I thought this looked cute in the photos above and was curious if it would work for my wife's next car. However, my mom has a Mazda 3 and it's TINY. There is no way we would purchase an even smaller car for my wife. Maybe only the cargo area is smaller and passenger space is larger? I just ran some measurements versus a 2006 Prius (my wife's car). Length - Prius 175" /MB 174" relative tie Width - Prius 68" / MB 71" - Mercedes is wider. Height - Prius 58.1 / MB 58.8" The prius is actually less tall? I realize these aren't head to head cars. Only a moron wouldn't know that HOWEVER, if my wife is looking for a new "hatchback" type of car to replace her current car, then we would be comparing one of these against a prius, x1, A3/Q3 etc. as well as any other hatchback cars that are semi-friendly on gas.
          • 1 Year Ago
          The Prius is also lower to the ground. A jacked up car like the GLA will have a ton of clearance underneath so the actually body is smaller. So even though the exterior points of width height and length are close, I am pretty sure total interior room is greater. Not just cargo, but also front and rear passenger space. Total volume on the Prius is probably much larger overall.
          • 1 Year Ago
          They also both have a 106" wheelbase. So honestly they have very similar exterior dimensions but make it swoopier which will leave to a smaller cabin feel. The increased width might be taken up by the thicker doors so I'm curious if this car will feel tight.
        • 1 Year Ago
        No, this thing is more like the Juke in terms of space. And I bet it doesn't come with a spare. Add a spare == bye bye trunk space. Oh and I used to own a Juke. Great handling car but lack of space and tiny gas tank is why I got rid of it.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Looks great!
      • 1 Year Ago
      MB is hitting every market. Pretty smart.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'd rather see the new Merc hatchback in the US 100% but this is a nice looking CUV. I'd turn it into a hot hatch. That's right.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just watched the Short Cuts video showing the cargo room. I was surprised that the reviewer did not comment on the fact that to fold down the two back seats he had to walk around to both sides, open the doors, and use the levers on the tops of the seats. Now maybe those could be reached from inside the back hatch. But if so that is not a great design. Why wouldn't MB do some sort of remote release - even pull handles - that you can do from the hatch? Maybe that will also be an option - like the power lift gate - that you can get. Just makes me wonder how much lux will be included vs optional vs not at all. Something as basic as dropping the rear seats flat from the cargo hatch should be standard.
      • 1 Year Ago
      they will sell a ton of these, I bet even more than the cla
        • 1 Year Ago
        Call any car a "crossover" and it's destined to sell well here in America. Sad but true.
          • 1 Year Ago
          Just as long as they have pseudo-rugged fittings like plastic cladding, jacked-up suspension, aggressive front grill, and wide blingy alloy wheels.
          • 1 Year Ago
          Is it more sad than soccer moms driving off road vehicles to the grocery store? Why is it bad that they buy something that better meets their needs?
      • 1 Year Ago
      The more I look at the GLA, the more I am convinced that this is the best application yet of the corporate Mercedes design language. The surfacing is well refined, the lines sharp and taut, there's just enough detailing to keep things interesting, the proportions are right where they should be, and there's a bit of modern Volvo-esq suave thrown in for good measure. The taillights are a little too cartoonish for my taste, but otherwise this Merc looks like a winner.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like it. Looks a hell of a lot better than the CLA IMO. If they made an AMG version with the bonkers 2L, it'd be really interesting to me. It'd be the closest we'd get to the A45 AMG in any case.
      • 1 Year Ago
      It has way better fuel economy compared to power than any of Subaru comparable offerings.
      • 1 Year Ago
      As with the CLA, I'm very divided on this MB. I love the style, and the performance sounds great for the money. But the packaging is a serious drawback. As a daily driver, the GLA seems to offer a lot less passenger and cargo space than a GTI. For reference: The GTI is 8 inches shorter, but has 46 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded (vs 29 in the GLA). From what I hear, the GTI's rear seat is a whole lot more usable for people as well.
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