2016 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic:: Week with Review

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After getting to spend time in sports cars, hatchbacks, mid-size sedans, large cars, and a variety of SUVs, I was excited to see a Mercedes-Benz – my first ever – eagerly awaiting my arrival at the CarAdvice Melbourne office.

The car in question is the German brand’s first-ever small SUV, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.

The second-sportiest model in the GLA range, behind only the Mercedes-AMG GLA45, my car for the week is the $59,900 (before on-road costs) GLA250 4Matic.

Sitting above the entry-level GLA180 and second-tier GLA200d, the all-wheel-drive 250 gets 155kW of power and 350Nm of torque from its turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, and claims a 7.1 second 0-100km/h sprint and sips 7.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

With compact SUVs being the hottest cars to have at the moment, the GLA is one I really like, combining the good looks of a hatchback with the go-anywhere vibe of a high-riding SUV.

Loading gear into the roomy 421-litre boot is easy thanks to the power tailgate’s key-fob release, with additional smarts coming from the adjustable tailgate opening height– an ideal feature for those with a low-roof carport.

Even though the car is almost 1.5m tall on the outside, there isn’t a lot of headroom inside. Luckily I’m not any taller than six-foot, otherwise we could’ve had an issue.

On the positive side, the GLA you see here is equipped with a ‘Seat Comfort Package’, which, to put it simply, my bum loves.

The Artico leather-upholstered memory seats feel like a sponge and are so comfortable, I contemplate ripping them out to somehow construct a lounge suite out of them. They are also heated – and heat up quickly – and have their electric controls mounted to the door panel.

There’s ample room in the back, along with rear air vents, but the middle-seat backrest ain’t that comfortable.

The standard 8.0-inch colour infotainment screen is propped up atop the middle of the dashboard, not neatly moulded into it, but sits high enough to make glances at the satellite navigation or rear-view camera easily. It’s all simply operated through a rotary wheel located on the transmission tunnel (near the driver’s left leg) too.

After pressing the GLA’s large brushed aluminium ‘Engine Start’ button, I look down to put the car into reverse, before taking a minute to locate the Mercedes’ contentious column shifter – as I said, this is my first time behind the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz.

The somewhat dated-feeling shifter controls a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that delivers shifts that are so smooth you can barely feel them.

With a traditional ‘gear stick’ traded for a steering column-mounted stalk, there’s more room up front for storage. This means that the GLA has two cup holders, two clever press-to-open compartments and a centre armrest – beneath which sits two USB inputs. One night – after dropping my phone on the floor – I even discovered bonus storage tucked under the front seats.

Often polarising, I’ve really grown to love engine stop-start technology. And within a flash of stopping at traffic lights, the Mercedes switches itself off to save fuel. It also automatically stops once you place it into ‘Park’ – annoyingly though, it starts up again the second you take your foot off the brake.

The GLA’s rain-sensing wipers get a workout on the soggy drive home to Shepparton, with the inclement weather making me additionally thankful for the car’s standard dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlights, and blind-spot monitoring system.

The 4Matic all-wheel-drive system handles the wet roads with ease and – despite the heavy rain – over-shoulder vision in the GLA is clear, along with good visibility via the rear-view mirror.

Although I’m a fan of the GLA’s muscular bonnet design, the throttle response attached to the 2.0-litre turbo can initially be quite slow. Once all the components acknowledge my request for more oomph, however, the power kicks in, and I feel my back sink into the seat.

I usually travel around 500km a week, and with the GLA250 claiming fuel consumption 7.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, I don’t need to worry about filling up its 56-litre tank. The GLA250 can’t quite match the 5.7L/100km claim of the turbocharged 1.6-litre entry-level GLA180 (a front-wheel-drive-only petrol model) or the impressive 4.6L/100km claim of the diesel-powered GLA200d, but it’s sharper than the flagship GLA45’s 7.5L/100km.

More often than not, Mercedes-Benz models ooze class and quality. The marque’s first-ever small SUV, the GLA, is no exception. If you’re in the market for a small, premium SUV, you could absolutely look at an Audi Q3 or BMW X1, but with a range starting at $42,900 (before on-road costs) for the base GLA180, even I can afford to put myself behind a car wearing the three-pointed star – and I reckon that’s pretty darn cool.

Click on the Photos tab for more 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic images by Mandy Turner.