The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA was named the “Most Beautiful Car” of 2021, and it’s not hard to see why. Taking on a completely new styling direction, the all-new GLA has now ditched away its “taller A-Class” look for a more proper SUV-like stature; almost like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

But are good looks the only thing that the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA has going for it? The outgoing GLA was a massively successful product – especially in its AMG form, so does the all-new model have what it takes to uphold the reputation and keep the fans happy? Let’s find out.

POWERTRAIN

Barring the AMG model, which – in this latest generation – has not been launched here just yet, the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA line-up in Malaysia is unchanged from before. Two variants are on offer here, the GLA 200 and GLA 250, but while the old GLA 250 had the 4Matic all-wheel-drive drivetrain, the new line-up is strictly front-wheel driven only.

In terms of what’s underneath the sheet metal, both new variants have received brand-new powertrains, with gains in their power outputs. The GLA 200 is now powered by a 1.3-litre turbocharged inline-four engine, with its horsepower up marginally by 7 hp to 163 hp.

The M260 engine in the current GLA 250 is the successor to the M270 unit found in the outgoing GLA 250.

Meanwhile, the GLA 250 with the new M260 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four mill sees its horsepower rise by a more substantial 13 hp to 224 hp. Torque figures for both variants remain the same as before, at 250 Nm and 350 Nm for the GLA 200 and 250 respectively.

The GLA 200 retains the 7G-DCT dual-clutch gearbox to go along with the new powertrain, while the GLA 250 sees an extra set of sprockets in its transmission, moving up to a 8G-DCT gearbox.

The 1.33-litre four-cylinder turbo in the GLA 200 is a really tiny unit!

Interestingly though, while the all-new GLA variants now have a higher power output than their predecessors, they actually both perform worse than the outgoing models in the 0-100 km/h sprint, taking 0.6 seconds (8.7 s) longer on the GLA 200, and 0.3 seconds (6.9 s) longer on the more powerful GLA 250.

As for fuel consumption, the downsized engine in the GLA 200 sees a reduction of 0.2 l/100 km to 5.6 l/100km, while the GLA 250 drops marginally from 6.6 to 6.5 l/100 km – not a night and day difference, but still a welcome change.

EXTERIOR

We concede that looks are a subjective matter, but to us, the previous-generation Mercedes-Benz GLA just never looked quite “right”. A large part of the reason is due to its A-Class roots, resulting in a “jacked-up hatchback” look. The end result never felt proportionate to us, and is somehow stuck in no man’s land between sleek and rugged.

This all-new model meanwhile, takes on a completely different approach in the styling department. While it still shares a lot of the same motifs as the other compact Mercedes models, Mercedes-Benz has given the all-new GLA a unique feel of its own, with an overall taller height (+117 mm on the GLA 200, 250 is 10 mm lower thanks to its lowered comfort springs) more befitting of its “lifestyle-oriented SUV” label.

In terms of dimensions, the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA now measures 1,611 mm in height, 1,834 mm in width (+30 mm), while its length is reduced by 7 mm to 4,410 mm. However, the wheelbase has actually increased by 30 mm to 2,729 mm, resulting in a shorter overhang both front and rear to give it a more rugged persona.

In addition, the all-new GLA’s tracks (distance between left and right wheels) have also increased by 46 mm, which means the wheels now fill the wheel wells a lot better for a more aggressive stance.

As we’ve mentioned above, the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA is offered in two variants here; the GLA 200 is dressed in a Progressive exterior styling pack, while the GLA 250 gets equipped with an AMG Line bodykit.

The differences between the two, as evident from the photos above, are largely restricted to the front and rear bumpers, with the AMG Line sporting the more aggressive-looking trims including a larger diamond pin front grille, a larger bone-shaped trim on the front bumper with horizontal trim elements, integrated rear diffuser on the rear bumper.

The AMG Line-equipped GLA 250 also gets a larger set of wheels – 19-inch compared to the 18-inch items on the GLA 200.

Fake “exhaust tips”, just… why?

As good as those sound though, Mercedes-Benz just couldn’t help themselves and tacked on some non-functional air-vents and “exhaust tips” at the rear, the latter a particular pain point for us as the outgoing model had some actual functional exhaust surround trims.

Anyway, we digress. In terms of exterior equipment, both variants are fairly evenly equipped, and basically unchanged from their predecessors. Standard-fit items across both variants include automatic High Performance LED headlights, LED tail lights, automatic windscreen wipers, and auto-dimming driver’s side exterior mirror.

A whole new world.

INTERIOR

Just like the current-generation A-Class, the cabin of the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA is also a huge leap up over its predecessor, both in terms of look and feel, as well as equipment.

Unsurprisingly, the interior of the all-new GLA gets a more modern design overall, in line with all the latest Mercedes-Benz models. There’s also a significant reduction in physical buttons, specifically on the centre console (the old one even had a number pad! How many owners actually used that?) – though fortunately all the important controls, such as those for the air conditioning, are still physical switches.

The most apparent upgrade inside is undoubtedly the new dual 10.25-inch screen set-up – one each for the digital instrument cluster and infotainment display – running Mercedes-Benz’s latest MBUX system. The outgoing model only had one single eight-inch non-touchscreen display, running the outdated Audio 20 software – though Apple CarPlay and Android Auto were already present on the outgoing models.

The new MBUX systems also come as standard with the Mercedes me connectivity features, allowing for remote features including remote engine start and checking of remaining fuel levels through the accompanying mobile application, among other things.

114 mm more rear legroom than before.

Thanks to the increase in dimensions, interior space has also been increased, specifically in the front headroom and rear legroom department, according to Mercedes-Benz – the latter by a whopping 114 mm. Boot capacity has also been increased by 14 litres, to now 435 litres of cargo space – which can always be extended by folding down the 60:40 split folding rear seats.

SAFETY

While it seems like everything else on the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA has been upgraded or renewed, the onboard advanced driver assistance features does remain essentially unchanged from its predecessor.

Standard safety kit on both variants of the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA include the Pre-Safe autonomous emergency braking system, active parking assist (with parking package and reversing camera), tyre pressure monitoring system, as well as an interior monitoring system.

The range-topping GLA 250 does gain an additional blind-spot monitoring system, which also functions as a visual warning for the passenger exiting the car when another vehicle is approaching.

PRICING

The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA is priced at RM 244,199.82 for the GLA 200, and RM285,336.66 for the range-topping GLA 250 here in Malaysia – both on the road prices, without insurance, and inclusive of the sales tax exemptions.

Compared to the latest pricing details for the outgoing model (which ranged from RM216k to RM266k) the new models are roughly 7-13% more expensive than their predecessors.

However, with the recent Mercedes-Benz Malaysia announcement heavily suggesting that the GLA might be locally-assembled here this year, prices for the compact crossover will most likely fall following the launch of the CKD model. Of course, none of this is confirmed just yet, so we’ll have to wait and see!

So there you have it – a quick rundown on what’s new on the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA. Do you think it has what it takes to win over the hearts of existing fans and doubters alike? Let us know in the comments below!


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Woon
Believes that a car is more than just numbers and facts, it's about the emotions they convey. Any car can be the right car for someone, but he'll probably pick a hot hatch over anything else.