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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 Light-Up Nose Badge | Autoblog Short Cuts

  • Associate Editor Brandon Turkus tests the weirdest optional extra on the new, 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 – the $550 Illuminated Star.
  • Video Credit: AOL On
Mercedes has a series of updates in store for the interior of the 2016 GLA-Class. Otherwise, the vehicle itself carries over largely unchanged, with the same engine and outward appearance as last year.

The infotainment system was upgraded for 2016 and is centered around a new 7-inch display to replace the existing 5.8-inch unit. It features a new media interface, improved call quality with HD Voice compatibility, and comes pre-wired for a Garmin navigation system. Keyless ignition, dual-zone climate control, and adjustment of the seat cushion length are standard. Options like keyless entry, ambient lighting, and a power passenger seat can be ordered as stand-alone options or as part of packages. There are also new color and trim choices as well.

Engine options carry over unchanged for 2016, with the GLA250 packing a 2.0-liter turbo four rated at 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and is still available in front- or all-wheel drive. The only other engine option is in the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 with the same basic engine specs, but the mill is hand-built to produce 355 hp and 332 lb-ft.

Though it was only introduced in 2014, the GLA is now among the oldest crossovers in Benz's lineup, second only to the evergreen G-Class. Since its introduction, Mercedes has rolled out a new GLC (to replace the GLK), the updated GLE (to replace the M-Class) and a new GLE Coupe, and the new GLS (to replace the GL). Much like its coupes and convertibles, each crossover is now linked by nomenclature to its corresponding sedan family, with the GLA serving as the high-riding counterpart to the CLA four-door. The enhanced equipment ought to at least help the GLA fend of advances of the incoming Infiniti QX30 and established rivals like the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.
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December 16, 2015 - ATLANTA

With its progressive design, comfortable everyday driving, off-road capability and versatility, the Mercedes-Benz GLA is a decidedly progressive interpretation of the compact SUV. All-new for model year 2015, the GLA for 2016 delivers new infotainment features and user technology and additional standard amenities.

The GLA is part of an extensive Mercedes-Benz SUV portfolio that includes the new midsize GLC, the GLE (formerly ML-Class), GL and G and gives the company the widest SUV range of any European premium manufacturer.

The first Mercedes-Benz in the fast-growing compact SUV segment, the GLA is highly maneuverable around town, lively on country roads and athletic and efficient on the highway. The GLA's flexible interior offers a generous luggage compartment that can be loaded easily thanks to the standard power tailgate, wide cargo opening and low loading sill.

Turbocharged Performance, Dual-Clutch Automatic

The GLA250's turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine uses direct fuel injection and uses an ECO start/stop function to conserve fuel. This high-spirited powerplant generates 208 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque and is exclusively teamed to a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The combination allows the GLA250 to accelerate from zero to 60 mph in under an estimated 7.1 seconds, yet also returns 35-MPG EPA-estimated highway fuel economy.

The GLA250 comes standard with front-wheel drive and available with a new generation of 4MATIC all-wheel drive. So equipped, the GLA can tackle rough terrain in and away from the urban landscape, including the beach, loose ground and unpaved roads.

The high-performance AMG GLA45, which comes standard with AMG 4MATIC, is exclusively equipped with a hand-built AMG 2.0-liter engine producing 355 hp and 332 lb.-ft. The AMG GLA45 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.

Upgrades for Second Season

For 2016, the Mercedes GLA debuts a new infotainment system with upgraded standard features, anchored by a larger 7.0-in. display (vs. 5.8-in. before) and including a media interface and pre-wiring for Garmin® Map Pilot navigation. Voices will sound clearer thanks to new HD Voice for compatible mobile devices.

Underscoring its premium positioning, the GLA250 gains several standard amenities for 2016, including KEYLESS START, dual-zone climate control and seat cushion length adjustment. DYNAMIC SELECT replaces AGILITY SELECT and allows the driver to choose from four performance modes, "Comfort", "ECO", "Sport" and "Sport+."

Mercedes reconfigured GLA option packages for 2016, as well. KEYLESS-GO becomes part of the Premium Package and also remains available as a stand-alone option. The available Rear View Camera now provides 180-degree view functionality. The power passenger seat is now available as a stand-alone option.

New for 2016, multi-color Ambient Lighting is included with the Interior Package and can also be added as a standalone option. The optional Night Package, available in conjunction with the Sport Package, adds a custom look with gloss black exterior trim and black wheels. A dramatic design deserves a dramatic color option; for the GLA, Kryptonite Green metallic replaces Universe Blue for 2016. Inside, available two-tone beige/black leather interior replaces gray leather.

The Look of SUVs to Come

The GLA design conveys a youthful, sporty persona through a muscular stance and classic Mercedes-Benz cues. The low greenhouse, raised ride height and large wheel arches give the GLA an athletic stance. The prominent, confident, upright front end with a central star in the grille lends a muscular appeal and also shows a kinship with the brand's coupes and sports cars. Powerdomes on the hood, for example, recall a similar feature on the classic Mercedes 300SL Gullwing.

Optional Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights use tri-functional fiber optics to give the lights their characteristic nighttime signature. The standard fog lamps are integrated into the front bumper. A simulated skid plate and contrasting dark-gray sill panels emphasize the vehicle's rugged attitude. The panels begin low at the front bumper and provide protection against stone impacts.

The profile view likewise conveys the GLA's performance, capability and premium quality. The line of the beltline trim gradually rises from the rear door to the C-pillar. Impressions in the side panel are reminiscent of an excavator's teeth to accentuate the SUV character. The GLA features standard 18-inch wheels, with 19-inch wheels optionally available. Chrome roof rails are standard.

Muscular rear haunches and the inward taper of the C-pillars give the GLA a wide, "planted" stance, an impression reinforced by curved rear window, roof spoiler, chrome garnish and silver-metallic skid plate.

Interior: Pure Mercedes Luxury, Youthful Appeal

The GLA's muscular exterior theme continues into the cabin, which is highlighted by a contoured design and high-quality materials. Silver-shadow trim surfaces create a metallic finish with a "cool-touch" effect.

The dashboard features an upper and lower section, each with a different look and feel. Matte and glossy surface graining creates a 3D effect. The aluminum or wood dashboard trim dividing the sections is punctuated by five round air vents, each with a butterfly-shaped insert to vary the airflow. The available matte satin finish wood trim is especially elegant and also pleasing to touch.

The large, freestanding central display – a Mercedes-Benz signature technology feature— has a high-gloss piano-black facing and a flush-fitting surround in silver-shadow. A 3-spoke steering wheel with 12 function switches and a silver spoke design is standard equipment.

The choice of standard MB-Tex or optional leather upholstery, in numerous color combinations, allows plenty of scope for individualization. Sports seats with integrated head restraints are available as part of the optional Interior Package. The seat design is highlighted by an opening in the lower section of the head restraint. On the rear of the seats, the opening is framed by silver-shadow trim and illuminated by standard ambient lighting.

The much-imitated Mercedes-Benz power seat controls for the driver are set into a metallic-look trim panel on the door. The door panels themselves, featuring soft, matte surfaces and a chrome trim strip, exude a premium feel usually not seen in compact SUVs.

Aerodynamics: Say Goodbye to the Box

The Mercedes GLA's sleek shape owes much to the wind tunnel, where optimization touched every surface, including the mirrors, as well as unseen features, such as seals in the front bumper in the radiator area and around the headlights. Extensive underbody paneling, and even an aerodynamically optimized muffler and diffuser, improve the airflow.

The excellent aerodynamics also contribute to cabin quietness, which is further ensured in the GLA by multi-level door seals, additional sealing of the gap between the tailgate and the roof and side seals on the tailgate. Especially rigid window frames prevent the airflow from pulling on the doors at higher speeds, and also reduce vibrations. Wind noise has also been minimized by the low-angle A-pillar and exterior mirrors mounted to the doors rather than the window corners.

Sporty Chassis for Sporty Moves

An especially rigid body structure provides the foundation for agile handling and a commendably smooth ride in the Mercedes GLA. There are additional reinforcements to the B-pillars, front damper domes, side members and underbody.

The GLA features a MacPherson front suspension, and its independent multilink rear suspension uses three control arms and one trailing arm per wheel. This arrangement separates longitudinal and lateral dynamics. The wheel carriers and control arms are aluminum to reduce unsprung weight. When equipped with 4MATIC, the rear axle subframe is isolated with rubber bushings to enhance ride comfort.

Electromechanical power steering provides excellent feedback to the driver and also plays a role in reducing fuel consumption, since assistance only requires energy when the vehicle is steered. The system also enables various steering assistance functions that are initiated by the ESP® control unit. These include countersteering when the vehicle oversteers, steering corrections when braking on surfaces with different levels of grip, reducing the effects of front-wheel drive on the steering and compensation of cross-winds and road camber.

All-Weather Friend: New-Generation 4MATIC All-Wheel Drive

The GLA's new generation 4MATIC all-wheel drive system features fully variable torque distribution. The system can instantly send up to 50 percent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels in response to changing driving conditions. 4MATIC enhances traction in slippery situations, of course, but also provides even more grip for outstanding agility on all roads and in all weather.

The 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission integrates a power take-off to the rear differential, which uses an integrated, electro-hydraulically controlled multi-disc clutch. The system is lighter than some competitive vehicles' systems and also more energy-efficient.

Off-Road Action

The GLA250 4MATIC integrates the Off-Road Package, a suite of features designed to enhance performance on rough roads or rugged terrain. Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) can automatically maintain a preset crawl speed. The touch of a button engages a mode that adapts the shift points, accelerator feedback, ESP® and ABS for off-road driving conditions. A display on the central in-dash screen can show steering angle, tilt angle, torque split, grade percentage and more.

Smart Safety: Advanced Assistance Systems

Standard features include ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection and radar-based COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS with adaptive Brake Assist. ATTENTION ASSIST can warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness.

COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS is a radar-based assistance system with autonomous braking that helps to protect against collisions from speeds of 5-65 mph when following a moving vehicle, and from 5-31 mph when behind a standing vehicle.

The optional Driver Assistance package also offers DISTRONIC Plus, as well as Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist. PARKTRONIC with Advance Parking Assist, available as a standalone option, enables autonomous parking in parallel and perpendicular spaces.

mbrace2 Connectivity Standard

Mercedes-Benz, which pioneered automotive telematics 15 years ago, has upgraded its mbrace2 Connected Car Services for 2016, making the new mbrace2 Connect package standard for all models, along with five years of complimentary service.

The mbrace2 Connect package includes Mobile App, Web Services, Roadside Connection, MB Apps (non-streaming), Vehicle Homepage (for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids), Diagnostics Data and Remote Update for five years. The GLA is one of several 2016 Mercedes models that include a Remote Start function as part of mbrace2 Connect. In addition, customers can choose from three mbrace2 subscription upgrade packages: "Secure," "Concierge" and "Entertain."

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