The new Mercedes-Benz GLA: added character, added space, added safety
The new GLA, the fourth model to join the line-up in the U.S. market, rounds off the current compact car generation from Mercedes-Benz. Here are its most important features at a glance:
- Is more than 3.9 inches higher than its predecessor, but 0.6 inches shorter;
- Offers more headroom at the front and considerably more legroom in the rear;
- Is able to react in emergency situations when the driver doesn’t with the standard Active Brake Assist system that can apply autonomous braking to avoid a collision or to reduce its severity;
- Extends the functions of the Driver Assistance Package with the addition of, for example, the exit warning function alerting the driver to approaching cyclists or vehicles, and a warning when pedestrians are detected near crosswalks;
- Is the entry-level model in the successful Mercedes-Benz SUV family and the sporty and lifestyle- oriented sibling of the GLB;
- Offers very low wind resistance (global Cd figure from 0.28; U.S. Cd figure of 0.30);
- In its 4MATIC® guise, features the Off-Road Engineering Package as standard;
- Includes the intuitively operated MBUX infotainment system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) as standard;
- Replaces an already successful model: more than a million units of the first GLA were built;
- Launches in the U.S. in summer 2020.
The new Mercedes-Benz GLA: added character, added space, added safety
Stuttgart. The new GLA, the eighth model to join the line-up (globally), represents the gateway into the brand’s successful family of SUV models. The character has been significantly reinforced here compared with the previous model: the height of the new GLA, at 63.5 inches (1,613 millimeters) with standard roof rails, exceeds that of its predecessor by more than 3.9 inches (ten centimeters). The correspondingly higher and characteristic SUV seating position also comes with more headroom in the first row. Legroom in the rear is also much more generous – even though the GLA is now 0.6 inches shorter. Typical off-road design features include the upright front section, short overhangs at the front and rear, and protective cladding. 4MATIC® models feature the Off-Road Engineering Package as standard, which comprises an additional driving program, a downhill driving assist function and an off- road animation in the media display, along with, in combination with the LED Intelligent Light System, a special light function for off-road driving.
The new GLA makes a further step in terms of safety courtesy of its driver assistance systems with cooperative driver support. The enhanced functions of the Driver Assistance Package include, for example, the exit warning function alerting the driver to approaching cyclists or vehicles, and a warning when pedestrians are detected near crosswalks. The GLA is able to react when the driver doesn’t. Active Brake Assist is charged in many situations with applying autonomous braking to avoid a collision or to reduce its severity. The system can also brake at a speed of up to approx. 37 mph for stationary vehicles and pedestrians crossing the road ahead. Depending on the situation this even prevents collisions up to a speed of 31 mph.
With a powerful and efficient four-cylinder engine, the latest driver assistance systems with cooperative driver support, and the MBUX infotainment system with intuitive operation, the new model has all the strengths of the current generation of compacts from Mercedes-Benz.
“The launch of the new GLA marks the culmination of a complete renewal of our family of compact cars,” says Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing & Sales. “The high demand for our SUVs shows that we can offer the right model for all of our customers here. Reflecting customer demand, these include two off-road models, the GLB and GLA, which complement each other perfectly: the GLB is the most functional and most spacious representative of our compact class family, while the new GLA is positioned as its sporty brother and as a lifestyle-oriented SUV.”
“The new GLA embodies the perfect synergy between pure beauty and robust off-road elements,” according to Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer Daimler Group. “With it, we are carrying the dynamic SUV forward into the future of modern luxury.”
Thanks to this global sales coverage Mercedes-Benz anticipates that, calculated across its full life cycle, the GLA will become one of the brand’s most popular compact class models, only just behind the A-Class. With a Cd figure that starts at 0.28 (0.30 for U.S.), the GLA offers very low wind resistance.
The new GLA combines the best from the two highest-volume segments: the compact cars and the SUVs. The SUVs are a major structural pillar in the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio and now represent the highest- volume segment for Mercedes-Benz. To date, more than six and a half million customers around the world have opted for a Mercedes-Benz SUV.
The GLA is produced in Rastatt (Germany), Hambach (France) and, for the local market, in Beijing (China).
Self-assured and dynamic: the exterior design
The GLA features powerful overall proportions with short overhangs at the front and rear. The front section flows over the A-pillar into the visually compact greenhouse. Suggested power domes on the hood, along with wheels up to 20 inches in size and mounted flush with the outer edge of the body, reinforce the self-assured appearance.
The clear contours, with reduced lines and accentuated planes, convey serene sportiness and modernity. Typical of the GLA are the powerful shoulders of the bodywork and the coupe-like lines of the side windows. This contoured side profile gives the car its dynamically elegant flair and offers an interesting play of light and shadows.
As in the case of the other Mercedes-Benz SUV models, the radiator grille features distinctive openings along with a single louvre and a central star. In hallmark brand style, the inside of the headlamps is finished to a high level of quality, detail and precision.
The side and rear views are characterized by the muscular shoulders of the vehicle. The doors reach over the sills, improving ease of access, while at the same time keeping the door frames free of dirt and improving impact protection in the event of a side collision. All-round protective cladding adds structure to the overall proportions and emphasizes the vehicle’s off-road character, as does the simulated underride guard at the front and rear.
The taillamps are in two parts, with the reflectors positioned separately in the bumper. This makes it possible to open the load compartment wider, making loading easier. It has the added effect of making the rear end appear wider. Further practical details include the integrated roof rails and the chrome-plated load sill protection.
Contemporary and high-quality: the interior
The instrument panel consists of a basic volume, which features optical “cut-outs” in the driver and front passenger area. The cut-out on the driver’s side is dominated by the free-standing display unit, which is available in two variants: with two 7-inch displays and in the Widescreen version, with two 10.25-inch displays. On the passenger side, the cut-out area is finished with a trim element.
The round ventilation outlets, five of them in all, feature a high-quality turbine look with meticulously designed air guidance vanes. The door center panel flows seamlessly over into the armrest. The grab and assist handle has a tubular profile and runs horizontally like a railing.
Included as standard is the intuitively operated MBUX infotainment system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). The powerful computer, brilliant screens and graphics, customizable presentation, full-color head-up display, navigation with augmented reality, learning software, and voice control activated with the prompt “Hey Mercedes” are several key advantages of the system.
Significantly enhanced: the interior dimensions and the functionality
Although shorter than its predecessor on the outside, the new GLA offers a more spacious interior. This is particularly true of the legroom in the rear and the trunk space.
The seating position for both the driver and the front passenger is higher and more upright than in the predecessor model, and thus more typical of an SUV. The driver and front passenger sit 5.5 inches (140 mm) higher than in the A-Class. All-round visibility has also been improved in comparison with the previous model – mainly due to an optimized cross-section for the roof pillars, which now block out less of the surrounding area.
Utility value was, in general, one of the focuses of development. The rear seats can be optionally adjusted by 5.5 inches (14 centimeters) and the rear seat backrest set to a steeper rake, making room for items such as bulky boxes. The rear seat can be split 40:20:40, with each section folding down individually for maximum flexibility.
The height-adjustable load floor, which comes as standard, offers considerable variability. When the rear seat backrests are folded down and the load floor is in the upper position, an almost flat loading area extending to the front seats can be created. For very bulky objects, the load floor can be put in the lower position, the cross member behind the rear seats can be removed and the rear seats with optional fore/aft adjustment can be moved forward.
Keeping an eye on the surrounding traffic: the driver assistance systems
The GLA offers the latest driver assistance systems, offering the driver cooperative support and so providing one of the highest standards of active safety in the compact car segment.
- The available Driver Assistance Package includes:
- Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with the functions:
- braking for stationary vehicles,
- extended automatic restarting in traffic jams in conjunction with Active Parking Assist and navigation,
- activation of “Gliding” in the ECO drive mode,
- Active Steering Assist with the functions:
- Active Emergency Braking Assist – with automatic unlocking and placement of an SOS call to the Mercedes-Benz emergency call center after the vehicle has come to a stop (depending on country)
- Active Lane Change Assist in conjunction with navigation,
- Emergency lane function: in freeway traffic jams at speeds below approx. 37 mph.
- Active Speed Limit Assist with reaction to changes in speed limits in conjunction with Traffic Sign Assist,
- Route-based speed adjustment when approaching bends, roundabouts, toll stations, T-junctions and before leaving highways – reduction of vehicle speed when encountering the end of a traffic jam, in conjunction with navigation,
- Evasive Steering Assist,
- Active Lane Keeping Assist,
- Active Blind Spot Assist,
- Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function,
- PRESAFE® PLUS: can detect a potential rear impact. If the danger of a collision persists, the system can also firmly apply the brakes of the stationary vehicle, minimizing the risk of whiplash injuries by reducing the forward jolt caused by an impact from the rear.
Even in its purely indicative version, and at low speeds, Blind Spot Assist is able to warn of vehicles, including bicycles, in the danger area. For the first time, when the vehicle is at a standstill it can signal to the driver with a visual warning in the exterior mirror before they climb out that a vehicle is driving past in the critical area. If the driver uses the door handle at this moment, an additional acoustic warning sounds. The road user driving past must be moving at more than 4.5 mph (2 m/s). The function is also available when the vehicle is stationary and up to three minutes after the ignition has been switched off. Active Blind Spot Assist, a component of the Driver Assistance Package, can additionally respond to vehicles in the blind spot and in the critical zone with active braking intervention.
Traffic Sign Assist: posted speed limits and any potential no-overtaking signs are displayed for the current section of the route through image recognition and information from the digital road map of the navigation system. The vehicle speed is compared with the speed limit. When the driver selects the appropriate settings, a visual/visual-audible warning signal is issued any time the speed limit is exceeded. No-entry restrictions are also recognized. Furthermore, the system warns of detected persons in the area of pedestrian crossings.
Neat and clean: the new car wash function
As the first model in its class to do so, the GLA features a car wash function, a familiar feature from its larger sibling, the GLS. With just one command, the exterior mirrors are folded in and the side windows and sliding roof are closed. The information from the rain sensor is suppressed so that the windscreen wipers remain switched off while in the car wash. The climate control switches to air-recirculation mode and, after a few seconds, the front image from the 360° camera (if fitted) is displayed in order to assist the driver when driving into the car wash. These settings are automatically deactivated when the driver drives out of the car wash and accelerates to a speed above 12 mph.
Exceptional comfort on long journeys and plenty of driving enjoyment: the suspension
The front axle of the new GLA features a McPherson design. Wheel control is taken care of by one transverse control arm below the wheel center, the McPherson strut and one tie rod. The wishbone is forged from aluminum. This reduces both weight and unsprung masses. The steering knuckles are made of cast aluminum.
The GLA features a sophisticated 4-link rear axle. The three transverse links and one trailing arm at each rear wheel are configured for maximum driving stability, ride quality and longitudinal/lateral dynamics. The rear axle is mounted on a subframe isolated from the body shell by rubber bushings so that fewer vibrations are transferred from the suspension to the body.
At 63.2 inches (front/rear; 1605 and 1606 mm), the track width is more than 1.6 inches (four centimeters) wider than on the previous model. The bigger wheel arches and the wider diameter of the wheels, at 17 to 20 inches, result in a higher ground clearance (5.6 inches / +0.4 inches).
More traction when needed: 4MATIC® all-wheel drive
The GLA can be equipped with the permanent all-wheel drive system 4MATIC® with fully variable torque distribution as an option. 4MATIC® components include the power take-off to the rear axle, which is integrated into the automated dual-clutch transmission, and the rear axle differential with an integrated multi-plate clutch.
This comprises six plates (12 friction surfaces) with a carbon fiber coating and is capable of transmitting as much as 738 ft-lb (1,000 newton meters) of torque. Automatic adjustment is made for wear and tear.
Unlike the previous model, in which the actuation was hydraulic, the clutch in this case is electro-mechanically operated. Via a two-stage spur gear and a ball ramp, an electric motor exerts an axial force on the clutch pack to open or close the plates. One element of this compact unit is the rear axle differential; this compensates the different paths/rotational speeds of the rear wheels. The advantages of this control system are, above all, non- rpm-dependent operation across the entire actuation range and thus also the pilot control of the clutch while still stationary, along with higher efficiency thanks to the ball ramp concept. There are no unnecessary losses from a synchronous hydraulic pump and the all-wheel drive unit has direct diagnostics capability.
This sporty all-wheel drive configuration allows the driver to use the DYNAMIC SELECT switch to influence the characteristics of 4MATIC®. Three characteristic maps are available to control the all-wheel drive clutch, though the system responds flexibly to the current driving situation in any mode. In regular driving operation, the drive program “Eco/Comfort” is based on an 80:20 distribution (front axle: rear axle), while in “Sport” it is 70:30. In off-road mode, the all-wheel drive clutch acts as an inter-axle differential lock, with the basic distribution a balanced 50:50. A multitude of sensors are used to report the current driving situation to the actual regulation system, based for example on the following factors:
- According to the drive program, varying switch-on/switch-off threshold values
- Driver input (accelerator, brakes, steering)
- Friction between the four wheels and the road
- Uphill/downhill gradients
- Winding/straight road
Plus functions protecting against extreme temperatures and over torque.
Useful in easy off-road terrain: the Off-Road Engineering Package
4MATIC® models feature the Off-Road Engineering Package as standard. The individual package components include:
- The Off-Road Engineering Package features an additional drive mode. This adapts not only the characteristics of the 4MATIC® system (see above), but also the power delivery of the engine and the ABS intervention control for off-road driving in easy terrain. It can be activated via the DYNAMIC SELECT switch.
- An animation of the driving situation can be called up on the media display. The realistic presentation of gradient, inclination angle and technical settings helps the driver to judge maneuvers correctly.
- If so desired, Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) automatically adheres to a preselected, slow speed between approx. 1 and 11 mph, which is shown in the instrument cluster and in the optional head-up display. With targeted brake applications, DSR helps retain control during steep downhill driving.
- Powerful and efficient: the engine
The new GLA places its trust in a four-cylinder gasoline engine that was completely modernized for the new edition of the compact model series. In comparison to the previous generation, it is characterized by increased output and improved efficiency and emissions. A locally emission-free model with third-generation plug-in hybrid drive system is already being prepared.
From Coupe via Shooting Brake to SUV: broad range in the compact class
With the GLA the new compact car family from Mercedes-Benz now consists of eight models (globally). With three wheelbase lengths, and front and all-wheel drive, the range is broad in scope. In the form of the GLB, Mercedes-Benz is now for the first time offering a compact model with seven seats. In addition there are the sporty versions from Mercedes-AMG®. Since the launch of the first A-Class, the first compact car from Mercedes-Benz, in 1997, more than seven million vehicles belonging to this segment have been delivered worldwide by Mercedes-Benz. Since the GLA made its market debut in 2014, around a million units of this compact SUV have been handed over to customers all over the world.