2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA Class

What's new for 2015? The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class compact crossover is an all-new model.

Is the new 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class a compact crossover SUV or a high-riding four-door compact hatchback? Although officially known as the former, we won't correct you if you use the latter description as well, since the GLA certainly looks the part. However, as Americans typically see hatchbacks as down-market vehicles, Mercedes-Benz is marketing the GLA to compete in the growing small-crossover SUV segment.

These vehicles are actually smaller (and typically less expensive) than established crossovers like Mercedes' own GLK-Class. Yet the GLA has a proper upscale vibe with swoopy styling, a high-quality cabin and energetic performance. Measuring about 4.5 inches shorter in length and about 8 inches lower in height than the GLK, the GLA is obviously better suited to the tighter parking spots and garages of big cities.

As the GLA shares its basic platform and running gear with the CLA sedan, it similarly offers 208 horsepower in standard form and 355 spirited horses in fiery AMG form. The all-wheel-drive GLA250 4Matic and GLA45 AMG arrive first, with the front-wheel-drive GLA250 to follow in early 2015. The GLA also mirrors the junior sedan inside as well, with three vents sitting atop the center console, just below a freestanding navigation display.

Exterior Highlights
Available in GLA250, GLA250 4Matic and GLA45 AMG trim levels

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class is a large, seven-passenger SUV available in four models: GL350 Bluetec, GL450, GL550 and GL63 AMG.

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is available in GLA250, GLA250 4Matic and GLA45 AMG trim levels.

The GLA250 comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, foglamps, roof rails, a power liftgate, automatic wipers, cruise control, 10-way power front seats (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, MBTex premium vinyl upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat (with pass-through). Electronics features include a 5.8-inch central display, the COMAND interface, mbrace2 telematics/smartphone integration, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a sound system with a CD player, HD radio and a USB audio input. Hill-descent control and an off-road transmission mode further burnish its sport-activity credentials.

The available Premium package features auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a compass, heated seats and a Harman Kardon audio system with satellite radio and an iPod interface. The Multimedia package adds a navigation system, a larger 7-inch central display, voice controls, a rearview camera and a 10GB music server. The Sport package adds 19-inch wheels, a more aggressive-looking front fascia and side sills and upgraded brakes. The Interior package features leather seating, front sport seats, a black headliner and MBTex dash trim. Lastly, the Driver Assistance package includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and blind spot warning.

Stand-alone option highlights include bi-xenon headlamps, a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, an illuminated grille emblem, parking sensors combined with an automated parking system, keyless ignition and entry, heated front seats, wood interior trim, a lower-cost navigation system (integrated into the standard 5.8-inch display), an iPod/media player interface, satellite radio and a Harman Kardon premium sound system.

A limited number (750) of the GLA250 will be available with the "Edition 1" package, which includes white paint, a two-tone brown leather/cloth interior, bi-xenon headlamps, gloss black 19-inch wheels and body trim, a panoramic sunroof, blind spot assist, the illuminated grille emblem, aluminum interior accents, and the Premium, Multimedia and Interior packages.

The high-performance GLA45 AMG includes the GLA250's standard features and adds a more powerful engine, unique 19-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension and steering, upgraded brakes, bi-xenon headlights and styling tweaks that include a more aggressive front fascia and lower body metallic accents. Options essentially mirror those of the GLA250, but also include Recaro seats, an upgraded steering wheel with suedelike trim, a performance exhaust, a large rear spoiler and an Aerodynamics package that adds a variety of other exterior styling flourishes. There are also the Driver's package (20-inch wheels, firmer suspension, red brake calipers) and a number of body styling packages featuring unique colors and trim. Other options echo those of the GLA250.

Clean center stack design, variety of cabin accents, elevated driving position, excellent forward visibility, power liftgate

As with the CLA with which it shares many cabin components, the GLA's interior looks and feels like that of a traditional Mercedes. Big analog gauges, a clean center stack design and tight fit and finish impart the same premium feel shared across the Mercedes lineup. The lone exception is the optional navigation system's display, which looks like an aftermarket addition given its location -- separate and perched high on the dash. On the upside, the screen is easy to read. Although it takes a little getting used to, the column-mounted gear selector quickly becomes second nature and also frees up valuable, easily accessed storage space on the console. Dressing things up is a variety of cabin accents, which include walnut, ash, aluminum and (GLA45 only) carbon fiber.

An elevated driving position provides excellent forward visibility. Cargo space behind the GLA's rear seats measures 17.2 cubic feet. Fold the rear seats down and you have 43.6 cubic feet available, and the standard power liftgate is nice.

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes, a driver knee airbag, front seat side thorax airbags, front seat side pelvic airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Standard technology safety features include Collision Prevention Assist, which uses radar to identify potential collision situations and intervenes with braking as necessary, and Attention Assist, which monitors the driver for signs of drowsiness and inattention. Mercedes' mbrace telematics system is also standard and includes automatic collision notification, an emergency response button, stolen-vehicle locator, remote car alarm notification to your phone and remote door lock/unlock.

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