Tested: Mercedes-Benz GLA200 CDI

The alluring ticket

Purpose. It’s a subject I can’t shake every time I test a new car and the most fascinating topic when discussing people’s choice of vehicle. There’s no rule or law which dictates the proper use of a vehicle which is why you’ll find 4×4’s on the school run and small Asian rentals knee-deep in Sossusvlei sand.

This is why we have small SUV’s and cross-overs like the Mercedes-Benz GLA, motor manufacturers keenly noticing that we’d be partial to buying something in between the tar-bound four-wheel-drive and a muddy city runabout that’s way out of its comfort zone. Ironic but true.

An esteemed colleague recently noted that we – the general car-buying public – have also become more shallow. In the age of disposable gadgets and motor-plans, a new car can count its lucky stars if it stays with you as long as its finance contract. On top of that, we seem to value form over function nowadays.

Mercedes-Benz is the perfect example of this and the new GLA a prime candidate. Based on the already-daring and cool A-Class, the GLA is a slightly higher cross-over packed with funky features and trendy materials whose technology and construction are yet to prove that they can outlast their warranty.

I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and should also mention that a GLA has a few other alluring features. Senior family members were slightly interested because its higher seats were easier to get into than those in an A-Class, while another liked the big boot and extra ride height for the daily trip down a farm track.

Mercedes offers the GLA with two petrol and two diesel engines…

Mercedes offers the GLA with two petrol and two diesel engines; all turbo-charged for better efficiency. The weaker motors are front-wheel-drive and manual while the bigger ones feature an intelligent all-wheel-drive system and Merc’s 7-speed automatic gearbox as standard.

You can specify these and lots of other extras on a smaller GLA, as was evident in our GLA200 CDI test car with its auto-box, sunroof, intelligent headlights, electric tailgate, reverse camera, audio upgrade, COMAND navigation and AMG trinkets. Starting at a base price of N$435,400, the car we tested cost exactly N$531,950.

Although the seating position is higher than that of its donor hatchback, sitting at the GLA’s helm still showcases its high shoulder-line and dashboard. Head- and leg-room is acceptable for most adults (also at the back) but tall drivers will knock their knees on hard plastics from time to time.

The 2,143cc four cylinder turbo-diesel is reasonably noisy but its vibrations stay clear of the cabin except on start-up. That also goes for the start-stop fuel saving feature. The AMG wheels and hard suspension are helped by the tyres’ reasonable profile to offer adequate ride comfort over all but very bad surfaces.

100kW of power and 300Nm of torque means 0-100km/h in 10 seconds (we can confirm that), a 205km/h top speed (we can’t), average consumption of 4.5L/100km (we averaged 6.5) and 119g CO2/km. So performance isn’t bad and fuel consumption from the 56L tank is excellent.

In everyday traffic, the GLA200 CDI is geared towards maximum economy which can be frustrating as the 7-speed automatic gearbox usually potters around below 1,500rpm with very lacklustre response to throttle inputs. Sport or Manual mode will eliminate this problem to some degree.

A few excursions into Sport mode plus the odd manual gear intervention kept me happy, however, during my week of motoring I eventually adapted to this GLA’s relaxed pace. Unless your routine includes a lot of heavy traffic, I would recommend leaving the “7GTronic” box on the options list vacant.

Sold with a six-year/100,000km full maintenance plan, this GLA200 CDI will be just the ticket for someone who wants a slightly higher hatchback crossover with funky looks, decent space, a hard-ish ride, costly toys and an economical turbo-diesel engine. Here’s hoping such a person exists.



0-10km/h: 0.54 seconds
0-20km/h: 1.12 seconds
0-30km/h: 1.73 seconds
0-40km/h: 2.42 seconds
0-50km/h: 3.25 seconds
0-60km/h: 4.34 seconds
0-70km/h: 5.41 seconds
0-80km/h: 6.76 seconds
0-90km/h: 8.37 seconds
0-100km/h: 10.03 seconds

0-100m: 7.3 seconds @ 82.8km/h
0-200m: 11.1 seconds @ 105.7km/h
0-300m: 14.3 seconds @ 119.3km/h
0-400m: 17.1 seconds @ 130.2km/h

Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.52G

All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box

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