The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class represents a new movement underway at the German brand designed to pushing the luxury envelope in the American market. The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class marks the first time that the automaker has targeted entry-level premium buyers with a compact crossover, a strategy that follows in the footsteps of the recent compact and affordable CLA-Class sedan on which the GLA-Class is based. The GLA-Class serves as an experiment to see just how much equity Mercedes-Benz has amongst luxury shoppers, and whether they are willing to get behind a model with more mass appeal than exclusivity.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.
01. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Is An All-New Design - Sort Of
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class debuts a fresh design in the sense that it's the first small crossover - or 'tall hatchback' - to be offered by the company in the United States. More accurately, however, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class borrows not just its styling, but also its platform from other, more Euro-centric vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz stable. In fact, the GLA-Class cribs most of its chassis from the CLA-Class sedan, and it also bears more than a passing resemblance to the A-Class hatchback that is not sold in America. This conglomeration of influences and componentry has allowed Mercedes-Benz to price the GLA-Class at a more affordable level when compared to the GLK-Class compact SUV.
02. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Shares Its Turbocharged Engine
One of the main features that the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class shares with the current CLA-Class sedan is its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. As with its corporate sibling, under the hood of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class this turbocharged unit has been tuned to provide 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, which are respectable numbers for a vehicle in its class. Fuel efficiency figures have yet to be released for the GLA-Class, although the somewhat lighter CLA-Class sedan offers 24-mpg in city driving and 32-mpg on the highway. Subtract roughly two miles per gallon from each respective measure and you'll have a good idea of the GLA-Class' mileage.
03. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Features A Seven-Speed Transmission
Another crucial aspect of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class' driving character is also borrowed from the CLA-Class sedan, and that's its seven-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox found in the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class isn't a traditional automatic, however, as it makes use of a dual-clutch automated manual design that offers quicker shifts as well as enhanced efficiency. It's also possible to use the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters provided with the crossover for more direct control over gear changes, although given the modest performance capabilities of the GLA-Class it would be a stretch to call the arrangement 'sporty.'
04. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Offers All-Wheel Drive
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class features two different drivetrain layouts to entice prospective buyers. You'll have to wait at least six months to get it - availability isn't scheduled until the beginning of 2015 - but the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class will eventually be offered in front-wheel drive trim. Until then, all GLA-Class crossovers are sold exclusively with an all-wheel drive system that is designed primarily to improve traction when driving during inclement weather conditions, although there are also some performance advantages imparted by the design when pushing hard through the corners, as well.
05. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Can Be Had With Off-Road Capability
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is about as far from a dedicated off-road vehicle as you could imagine, but that hasn't stopped its designers from creating an effective 'off-road package' that is standard with the crossover. The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class offers a hill descent control feature that keeps things slow and steady when tackling steep grades, an additional 1.3-inches of ground clearance to bring the total to eight, more aggressive tires, and the ability for its all-wheel drive system to shuttling of 100 percent of engine torque to either the front or the rear wheels.
06. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Delivers Decent Interior Storage
Although certainly not a large vehicle, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA- Class does adequately address the question of practicality. The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class features a 'trunk' area between the rear seatback and the hatch that can stow 14.9 cubic feet of cargo. Folding down the back seat almost triples this figure, opening up a very usable 43.6 cubic feet of interior space - a number that rivals several compact hatchbacks as well as other small crossovers around the GLA-Class' price point. The rear accommodations also feature a split design that still allows you to schlep over-sized items if you're carrying more than a single passenger.
07. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Isn't All That Roomy For Passengers
Despite its respectable cargo capacity, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class doesn't shine quite as brightly when it comes to carrying human beings around town rather than luggage. The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class features seating for up to five passengers but while the front two positions offer a good view of the road ahead, anyone seated in the back bench will instantly come into conflict with the crossover's low roofline, which cuts significantly into the vehicle's cabin. This slippery body shape also informs the narrow door cut out at the rear, making it more difficult to access the second set of accommodations than it really should be.
08. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Comes In A Single Trim Level
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is currently offered in a single trim level - the GLA250 4MATIC (with 4MATIC denoting the presence of all-wheel drive). Out of the box, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class provides MB-Tex imitation leather seats, 18-inch rims, a 5.8-inch multimedia display mounted on the dash, tinted windows, a drowsiness monitoring system, a forward collision alert system with automatic braking, the mbrace telematics system, power windows and door locks, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Other features, such as 19-inch rims, a panoramic sunroof, wood and aluminum trim, a blind spot monitoring system, a lane departure assistance feature, and adaptive cruise control can be ordered as options.
09. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Can Be Ordered In An AMG Edition
There's actually a second version of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class available, although it doesn't so much qualify as a 'trim level' as it does a whole new model. The Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG significantly turns up the boost on the crossover's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor to squeeze out 355 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque while maintaining the same seven-speed transmission. The result is a sprint to 60-mph that takes only 4.8 seconds, along with improved handling via a dramatically-revised suspension system, and more aggressive styling inside and out.
10. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Is Priced To Sell
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class starts at an MSRP of $33,300, which makes it the least expensive SUV or crossover available from the Silver Star. Of course, once you start adding on luxury features and packages the price can quickly skyrocket, but that base figure makes the Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC competitive with vehicles like the Acura RDX (MSRP $34,895) and the all-new Lincoln MKC (MSRP $33,100). For an additional $15,000 you can avail yourself of the GLA45 AMG (MSRP $48,300), which is a more startling amount of money to pay for such a small vehicle - and yet it seems likely that the status-enhancing AMG crossover will be a strong seller for a brand that commands significant respect amongst young, moneyed shoppers.