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  • First Look – 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and Mercedes-AMG GLA 35

First Look – 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and Mercedes-AMG GLA 35

Small Crossover Grows a Bit and Gains a Tweener AMG Model

Dec 12, 2019
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 is all-new, and it looks a bit more conventional than the current small crossover. Joining Mercedes-Benz' family of compact cars—A-Class sedan, CLA-Class four-door coupe, and GLB-Class small SUV—the GLA 250 offers increased interior room and more power than its predecessor.
Predictably, Mercedes-AMG will also have its way with the compact crossover, creating the GLA 35 in the process. More on that in a bit.
Photo 2/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Rear Quarter 01

Bigger Benz, But Still Compact

Photo 3/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Front Quarter 07

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 will be a bit larger than the swoopy crossover it replaces, but don't expect it to grow a size class. At 173.6 inches long, it's actually 0.6-inch shorter from bumper to bumper than the vehicle it replaces. However, wheelbase goes up 1.1 inches to 107.4, while body width goes up 1.2 inches to 72.2. Overall width between the mirrors is actually smaller, and height goes up 4.1 inches to 63.4.

Photo 4/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Side Profile 01

The dimensional changes mean the GLA is more spacious in most metrics than its predecessor—rear legroom in particular goes up a significant amount, curing the outgoing GLA 250's most serious interior drawback. Cargo space rises by half a cube to 15.4 cubic feet. That's still not a lot, but the longer GLB-Class platform-mate offers more if space is what you're after.

Photo 5/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Rear Quarter 05

By expanding in key areas (body width, height, and wheelbase) while reining in others (overall length and overall width), the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA should be as maneuverable and city-friendly as ever, but with a nice dose of interior room as well.

CUV Styling

Photo 6/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Front Quarter 05

While the outgoing GLA-Class compact crossover was more of a tall hatch, the new one is much more SUV-ish, for better and worse. Taller and slightly shorter than its predecessor, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 is much more conventional than its slightly funky, coupe-like predecessor.

Photo 7/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Rear Quarter 02

Its front end borrows liberally from the CLA four-door, which is a good thing in our book. Squinting headlamps bookend the grille that features a large Mercedes star, leaving no mystery as to the GLA's lineage. The side profile is smooth, but it borrows little from other Mercedes SUVs. Its overall shape is like that of the GLE, but its window openings and surface details are ever-so-slightly akin to the GLC. And the rear view looks very much like the A-Class hatchback that we don't get in the United States. Overall, it's inoffensive and handsome, but it does lack the personality of its Audi Q3 and BMW X2 competition.

Photo 8/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Side Profile 02

Two styling themes are available. The standard GLA gets an oval-shaped grille opening, a smooth rear bumper, and smaller (but still quite large) bumper-mounted faux air inlets. An AMG styling package includes a new bumper and grille opening inspired by the AMG GT supercar, plus larger faux air intakes and a sculpted rear bumper.

Photo 9/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Interior Dashboard

Inside is the most futuristic take on Mercedes' new styling language yet. The massive flat-panel display remains, with one half of the screen's real estate dedicated to the instruments and the other to the infotainment display. The GLA also includes a similar three-vent styling feature as its A-Class, GLB-Class, and CLA-Class siblings. The dashboard in front of the passenger, however, is much more sculpted than other Mercedes, and we really like the placement of the ambient lighting strips. We suspect most customers will be sold on the interior alone, that's how nice it is.

Nuts and Bolts

Photo 10/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Exterior Front Quarter 01

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 should have more than enough power for its smallish footprint thanks to a turbocharged 2.0L I-4 that produces 221 hp at 5,500 rpm and 258 lb-ft between 1,620 and 4,000 rpm. This same engine in the GLB is more than adequate, so we predict it'll be even better in the smaller (and likely lighter) GLA. Like the GLB, the entry-level Mercedes SUV will feature an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.

Photo 14/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Interior Front Cabin

A MacPherson strut front and four-link rear suspension are inexpensive and relatively simple to produce, while still providing an adequate (if not exactly thrilling) driving experience. Cast aluminum bits in the suspension reduce unsprung mass for a better ride and more responsive handling, and a 1.6-inch-wider front and rear track should likewise improve stability in corners.

Optional 4Matic all-wheel-drive is now electromechanically actuated, replacing the hydraulic operation of the old GLA. All models with 4Matic will also come with the Off-Road Engineering package, which adds additional settings to the drive mode selector for rugged situations. Torque management can vary from 80:20 to 50:50, front and rear, for a variety of driving situations.

Powering Up

Photo 15/61   |   2021 Mercedes Amg Gla 35 Exterior Front Quarter 01

Of course, if maximum performance on a budget is the goal, then the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 might be the machine you're looking for. Joining the CLA 35 and GLB 35, the 2021 GLA 35 will boast an impressive 302 hp and 295 lb-ft for a 0-60 time of just 5.0 seconds. The AMG-optimized 2.0L I-4 is twin-scroll turbocharged, with a cast aluminum crankcase, variable valve timing, intelligent thermal management for the coolant, precision piezo injectors, and multispark ignition. Furthermore, the little four-banger is equipped with Mercedes-patented Conicshape cylinder honing, reducing friction and improving both performance and efficiency.

Photo 19/61   |   2021 Mercedes Amg Gla 35 Exterior Brakes

The GLA 35 comes with an AMG Speedshift eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, incorporating a "Race Start" launch control feature and a manual mode courtesy of shift paddles. The standard GLA's suspension is optimized with an AMG-specific front steering knuckle, and the four-link rear axle is rigidly mounted without a suspension bushing (the standard GLA has one), improving response at the expense of some harshness. Four-piston front calipers clamp down on 13.8-inch drilled brake discs, while the rear gets 13.0-inch drilled discs and one-pot calipers.

If our experiences with the CLA 250 and CLA 35 are any indication, the AMG-optimized GLA should be plenty of fun on the road.

Coming Soon

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 will hit American showrooms next summer, and pricing has yet to be announced—expect a base price of $33,000 or so. We predict the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 to arrive shortly thereafter, costing at least $10,000 more than its more pedestrian cousin.
Photo 20/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Front Quarter 03
With a totally revitalized entry-level onslaught—A, CLA, GLA, and GLB—Mercedes-Benz is poised to capture plenty of buyers new to the brand. Although competition will be strong from the likes of the BMW X1 and X2, Audi Q3, and Jaguar E-Pace, we think the GLA has what it takes to be a strong seller.
Photo 21/61   |   2021 Mercedes Benz Gla 250 Amg Exterior Front Quarter 08

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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