Mercedes-Benz has taken dead aim at the subcompact luxury SUV market with the 2021 GLA 250 4MATIC, a pleasurable and practical addition to a crowded market. We also like the price point. But more on that later.
The practicality in part comes down to the added dimensions of the vehicle, with more height and width. There’s more space for people and cargo. So when the borders open back up, and you are taking that drive down to Cape Cod, for example, you’ll easily get 4-5 suitcases and your golf clubs into the cargo area. The people riding in the back of this Mercedes-Benz will also thank you, compared to previous versions of the SUV. And I still found it compact enough to adeptly get around a tight downtown Toronto condominium parking garage.
Canada’s best luxury website: Go for the premium package
Just the facts, then: Base price is eye-catching ($42,200). And you get a lot for that. As with all media vehicles, ours came with the premium package ($3,600 extra). You should go for that, for the extra money. A larger, 10.25-inch central media display (although I did struggle a little with the confusion of the touchpad screen), Keyless-Go, Google Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Blind Spot Assist, even nice, ambient lighting for mood effect, and more, are part of that.
The standards include dual clutch transmission. There’s acceleration of 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.7 seconds, off a 2.0L inline-4 Turbo (221 HP), AWD. That’s what I came in at when I drove it. The total MSRP for our vehicle, also with active parking assist, navigation package, heated Nappa leather steering wheel, Sirius radio, Burmester Surround Sound System, 360 camera, active parking assist – $53,065. So even with all the extra bells and ribbons, that’s good value for a Mercedes-Benz.
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Positives and negatives
What didn’t I like? The handling was indeed lively, as I read in other reviews beforehand, just maybe a little too lively on major highways. It’s plenty nimble and quick. I found the brakes to be a little too touchy. The steering however was tight. And the suspension of the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4Matic was overall smoother. It cushioned those cracks and bumps in the road nicely. Maybe the cargo area was a little clunkier, when talking about pushing down those seats in the back to create more space. But that’s quibbling.
I want practicality and performance – and I want price point – when shopping for SUVs in this bracket. I don’t expect “sporty”. Competitors to the Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 includes the BMW X1, Lexus NX 300, Audi Q3. Where I think the GLA excels in comparison to those others ones is in the luxury touch points of its cabin. That’s where it goes all Austin Matthews. (Okay, the Leafs open against the Habs tonight.)
Plush seating and arm rests, cool turbine air vents, nice, clean layered trim, and of course that Burmester sound system – that’s what I liked. It’s a quiet ride, and that’s luxury. Again, being a bigger guy, the spaciousness of the cabin was a game-changer.
Car companies are going to get more creative with financing and leasing packages coming out of the pandemic. Road trips are going to look more enticing for Canadians after over a year of back-and-forth lockdowns. The weather is sure looking more inviting. So check out the Mercedes-Benz website to scan the latest deals.