Mercedes GLA Long Term Review
Living with the Mercedes GLA has pampered us with attention

Mercedes-Benz GLA Diesel Long Term Review

Long Term Test No. 91

Car Tested: Mercedes-Benz GLA Diesel
Kms Done: 2977 kms
Test Started at: 36202 kms
Test Concluded at: 39179 kms
Mileage: 11.94 km/l, 17.28 km/l (best), 7.5 km/l (worst)
Fuel Consumed: 248-litres
Fuel Cost: Rs. 14,140/-
Rs. per km: Rs. 4.75/-

The GLA impresses on several fronts and can be used in both the city and highway with ease

Luxury car brands are having a gala time in India (at least as far as sales growth goes) and riding high on the success of its front-wheel drive cars, Mercedes-Benz has been doing exceptionally well, so much that they now occupy the numero uno position. According to a recent report, 50% sales are coming from entry-level models which is considerable as the MFA platform based cars (A, B, CLA and GLA Class) from Mercedes were launched only a few years back. We had the A-Class in our long term fleet two years back and now we had the crossover based on it, the GLA, for a long term review.

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The Mercedes GLA looks stunning in this brown shade

There is a lot to like about the design of the Mercedes-Benz GLA and in this brown shade, it does look a bit SUV from some angles. While it is more crossover than anything else, the muscular styling elements and compact dimensions give it both attention and ease of manoeuvrability. What I really like about the GLA are the lights, they have the signature Mercedes LED elements and look amazing at night, they also light up the road very well, making highway drives a breeze as far as visibility is concerned.

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Sporty interiors and a large panoramic roof makes the cabin a nice place

The cabin is a nice place to be in too, but only at the front. The quality is top notch, the design is attractive and there are almost all the features you would expect from a Mercedes car, at least on the safety front. But all the new generation Hyundais and Marutis have spoilt us with the keyless go and push button start gimmickry, something missing on this Merc. My gripe with all Mercedes cars continues on the GLA too, the AC would automatically shut internal re-circulation, a minor tweak to disable this at least for India would be much welcome.

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The GLA’s compact dimensions are a boon in the city

Fresh air is always good but in our country, there is nothing called fresh air and when the AC starts pulling air from outside, the cabin gets polluted. The resolution of the infotainment screen could have been better too although audio quality is good and the COMMAND system is easy to navigate with the steering mounted controls being a big boon to use. The seats are comfortable and offer very good support even on long drives, the stalks feel solid, there was absolutely no ill-fitting panel in our long term car which was fast approaching 40,000 kms on the odo and was abused quite a bit.

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The petrol GLA is a better pick over the diesel

The rear seat is where things aren’t that great because of the lack of space but the big panoramic roof and beige seats makes things very airy. The good part about the GLA is the ISOFIX child seating mount which is quite helpful if you want to mount a child seat. This is important because the GLA is a car best used by adults at the front and children at the rear due to the lack of space. The boot too isn’t big because Mercedes likes to put the spare tyre on top of the boot floor, not underneath it!

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Outright performance for a car of this price is a bit lacking

The Mercedes GLA has decent punch when you drive hard in Sports mode

Once the Mercedes GLA got inducted into our long term fleet, we did a trip to Goa and before that, swapped all four tyres for new ones as the old rubber was quite worn. The GLA behaved exceptionally well on our trip as it has the high speed manners which inspires confidence in the driver to be spirited with the throttle and steering wheel. The 134 horses isn’t much and we found ourselves in Sports mode most of the times, dabbing on the steering mounted paddles for a lower gear to make faster overtakes.

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The gearbox isn’t very quick with shifts but there are paddles

That is because with a 0-100 km/hr time of 9.9 seconds, the Mercedes GLA isn’t as quick as it should be for its price. The gearbox isn’t the fastest to respond either but work around it and you can cruise at high speeds quite easily. The motor gets vocal but we kind off started to like it after redlining for hours and hours, where we got a mileage of 10 km/l. The worst mileage was around 7.5 km/l in stop-go city traffic with a heavy foot and the AC on full blast. The GLA gets traction control system and one can’t turn it off, launch it aggressively and the system cuts power after detecting wheel spin.

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This baby Merc does handle very well and is fun to drive

What is the most exciting part about this German crossover is the handling, it’s super fun to drive both in a straight line and the twisties thanks to the fantastic grip on offer and fluid steering wheel which offers a load of feedback. Drive the GLA spiritedly and it will reward you with eager handling; body movement being well in control and the tyres offering excellent grip too. What isn’t the best is the ride quality as this Mercedes is stiff and tends to thud through the bad roads, the tuning of the suspension being on the sportier side.

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The GLA is one of the reasons for youngsters to get attracted to Mercs

The Mercedes GLA has proved to have some hits and some misses but where this Stuttgart steed pleases the most is the image that it offers. Being the entry-level SUV in Mercedes’ portfolio, the GLA is one of the four easy entry-points to the famed three-pointed star and manages to give the pride of owning one. Being a Mercedes, the respect is a given, something which we enjoyed in loads like getting parking where there was no parking, not being checked at exit points of a state (the security personnel whispering to his colleague, it’s a Mercedes-Benz) and being treated with utmost respect from a valet. The GLA might not be perfect but it’s a Mercedes and a relatively affordable one.

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The GLA is a car for arriving in style as it’s a Mercedes

What’s Cool

* Design and feel – being a Mercedes, it gets the respect
* Frugal diesel engine when driven sedately
* Decent amount of equipment, gets a lot of safety tech
* Fun handling and crisp steering

What’s Not So Cool

* Needs more power to justify its price
* Rear seat lacks comfort, boot lacks space
* Stiff ride quality

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The GLA scores high on image, safety, handling and design

Testers’ Note:

“Having stayed with the A-Class earlier, I wasn’t really looking forward to the GLA as both are essentially similar cars in many ways. But driving the GLA made me appreciate the vehicle for several reasons, the higher ground clearance over the A-Class being one of them. In the city, this Mercedes seems apt with its compact dimensions but when you head out, the lack of rear seat and boot space get amplified. This is a car for the front passenger to arrive in style.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“I particularly like the GLA for its apt dimensions for routine city driving. Being a tall individual, I find the interiors a tight fit, especially the rear seat. However, I really liked the practicality it offers with its high ground clearance which is perfect for our road conditions. Besides, this German is also the perfect stepping stone for those who wish to step into the luxury bandwagon and make a strong style statement.” – Dr. Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.
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Those lights are very strong and help a lot in night driving

Picture Editing – Sri Manikanta Achanta

Further Reading

Mercedes GLA Review
Mercedes GLA vs Audi Q3 vs BMW 1-Series
Mercedes GLA vs Audi Q3 vs BMW 1-Series – Video