Well-Sized | 2015 Mercedes GLA250

July 2015 View more

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-ClassMercedes broke new ground last year when it launched, with much Super Bowl ad fanfare, the CLA-Class sedan. A “real” Mercedes for less than $30,000, even if just by $100 or so, caused a lot of aspiring owners to take notice.

But not all potential Mercedes owners want a sedan, so Mercedes’ product planners cooked up another model to tempt shoppers who need more functionality in their daily drivers. Witness the all-new 2015 Mercedes GLA250 4MATIC—an all-wheel-drive hatchback at the lower end of the Mercedes size and price spectrum.

With four doors, five seats, and 42 cubic feet of cargo volume with the seats folded flat, the GLA hits the right blend of functionality and footprint. Big enough to be comfortable, the GLA is small enough to encourage a sporty driving demeanor. Mercedes also says that the GLA 4MATIC can handle some light off-road work, though handling some heavy snowfall come winter is more like it for most buyers. A tight turning radius is the cherry on top of the sundae here.

The GLA250 offers a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic that seeks to maximize power delivery and minimize turbo lag from the 2.0-liter engine. It mostly succeeds. Like the suspension, which can feel a bit unsettled over rough roads at low speeds, the transmission comes into its own as speed increases. The shifts smooth out and the flow of power feels more even.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-ClassKudos to Mercedes, too, for fuel economy in the mid- to high-20s in city driving and past 30 miles per gallon on the highway. In a sporty all-wheel-drive car that feels best when it is being pushed, numbers like that are nice to see.

The GLA’s interior offers enough high-design sparkle to back up the large three-pointed Mercedes emblem on the grille. The most distinctive elements? The five swiveling aircraft-propeller vents and the brushed aluminum accent piece that spans the cockpit from the center console to the passenger-side door. If you choose the black leather upholstery, the white contrast-stitching on the door panels and center armrest, and the tastefully administered chrome accents here and there, turn an otherwise dark cabin into a model of sleek sophistication.

The floating navigation and audio display screen—which looks like just the flat-panel TV mounted on your family room wall—offers a novel way to integrate the screen into the dash without a space-absorbing plastic tunnel. Mercedes’ COMAND interface makes an appearance here. Turn the knob, toggle up and down, and press the button to make your intentions clear.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-ClassThe GLA’s front seats are faultlessly comfortable, and Mercedes aficionados will appreciate the traditional door-mounted electric seat adjustments. Behind the front seats, the GLA proves itself a more practical companion than the CLA sedan on which it is based. The rear seats offer plenty of family-sized legroom, and the cargo hold, accessed by a power-operated rear liftgate, offers a surprisingly large capacity for a vehicle with such compact dimensions. Fold down the rear seats and the GLA might become the wagon your friends borrow when they want to avoid the delivery charges on large purchases.

The 2015 Mercedes GLA250 4MATIC starts at $33,300. If you don’t need all-wheel-drive, you can knock $2,000 off that starting point and drive off in the front-wheel-drive GLA250. Regardless of which drivetrain you pick, the GLA’s extensive options list will let you add luxury and safety, as well as dollars. And if you want a car that will hit 60 mph in less than five seconds, consider the GLA45, which delivers 355 horsepower, versus the GLA250’s 208 horsepower.

Photo courtesy of ©2015 Mercedes-Benz USA