FACELIFTS CAN’T GET much milder than this. The GLA-Class is the latest model in the Mercedes stable to receive amid-life update and other than the all-new exterior colour as pictured (called Canyon Beige) you’d have to sit new and outgoing cars side by side to notice the differences. To help you out, here are the changes on the outside – front and rear bumpers have been reshaped and the eagle-eyed among you will spot LED headlights in place of the bi-xenon ones on the pre-facelift model. There’s also a smart new set of wheels our car came equipped with. Our test car did have Merc’s 4Matic all-wheel drive system. So does this mean the GLA can now go off-road? Well, not really.
It works in the same way that any other compact SUV of this size would. This system can transfer up to 50 per cent of the engine’s torque to the rear wheels when required and will get you out of slushy or (if you’re living in the mountains) icy conditions. It’s more an urban and highway runaround than a rival to a proper off-roader. But the GLA has proved itself to be a tough machine on the mega GLA Adventure road trips around the world we’ve done with the car. It’s a great highway runner in this newly launched 220 d trim, which uses the same 2,1-litre diesel engine, but power has been bumped up by 34bhp to 168bhp and torque by 50Nm in this new state of tune.
What this has done is improve drivability and throttle response, to provide an improved driving experience. There’s the Dynamic Select button on the centre console which allows you to choose from various driving modes. There’s a new Off-road mode, which keeps the engine in the optimal rev range to cross tricky surfaces. The different modes change engine and steering response, but there’s no change to suspension or any other aspect that affects the car’s dynamics. There’s also a Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) function – Mercedes equivalent of hill-descent control – which helps you crawl down steep declines without manually operating the brakes.
In the pursuit of making it more friendly off-road, the GLA now also gets slightly taller suspension, which means 30 mm more ground clearance, so you’ll be able to navigate slightly trickier patches on and off the road with a touch more axle articulation on offer. The ride is a bit firmer than we’d like, albeit with more suspension travel than before, which means it’s more pliant, especially at lower speeds. Unlike its less powerful sibling though, the GLA 220d makes for a more relaxed driving experience; put it in Sport mode and go around a corner aggressively and the extra dose of torque from the motor makes the experience pleasurable. The seven-speed dual clutch transmission is quick and smooth, which can be controlled through the steering-mounted paddles.
Another feature that does work particularly well, is the 360 -degree parking camera, which is more than useful while parking and soft-roading along with any other low-speed situation where you need to see the car’s extremities and immediate surrounding. The GLA has always been an ice car to recommend and post the few updates and added power, it remains so. It has been a popular model in our SUV crazed nation, with the added advantage of having the three-pointed star on the nose, and will get even more attractive post this update.