2024 Mercedes-Benz GLA Facelift First Drive Review: An All Rounder

  • Feb 4, 2024
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The entry-level Mercedes SUV gets a minor update to keep it up-to-date. Find out if the changes make it worthy of its bigger price tag

The entry-level Mercedes SUV gets a minor update to keep it up-to-date. Find out if the changes make it worthy of its bigger price tag

Mercedes Benz GLA 2024 driving

Compact cars from luxury brands serve as stepping stones of an aspirational lifestyle, much like the Mercedes-Benz GLA. Now available in India as a new and improved facelift, this compact luxury SUV is ready to change perceptions about the “entry-level” tag still being associated with a lack of features. The 2024 GLA gets small design improvements and key feature additions to make it a better package for the price. 

The Mercedes-Benz GLA serves as an alternative to the likes of the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. Within the brand’s SUV lineup, it sits beneath the GLC, GLE and the flagship GLS, all three of which have already been updated in the past six months.

Looks

Traditionally, the design of the Mercedes-Benz GLA has faced the challenge of living up to the SUV body image. Its rounded shape masks its proportions, trading overall road presence for the elegance of a large hatchback with increased ground clearance.  

Mercedes-Benz GLA front

The design itself has improved with the latest update, giving the GLA’s front end a sharper look. It gets revised headlamps, grille and bumper, but the sloped bonnet and the roofline have a closer resemblance to a hatchback than an SUV. At the rear, Mercedes has stuck with a clean and simple design to match the rest of the GLA, and the updated LED taillamps give the facelift a modern touch. We also approve the absence of the current design fad, i.e., connected tail lights. Although good-looking, the design lacks the macho presence you would typically expect from a car that you call an SUV.

Mercedes-Benz GLA rear

With the AMG Line variant, you get a sportier front bumper design and 19-inch alloy wheels. The tyres wrapped around them have a chunky sidewall which should offer decent protection to the rims even on bad roads. Another design change for the facelifted GLA is that the wheel arch cladding is now body-coloured while the grille design still gets chrome accents. 

Interiors

Mercedes-Benz GLA dashboard

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The changes to the cabin continue the tone of this facelift - minimal but impactful. Stepping inside, the interiors have received subtle tweaks, including new upholstery and the introduction of an AMG-spec steering wheel in the AMG-Line variant with touch controls. A notable change involves the removal of the centre-console-mounted touchpad, replaced by a rubber-padded open storage, a practical adaptation to our phone-dependent lifestyles. Just ahead of it, you now get a knurled control for the volume adjustment flanked by physical hotkeys for changing drive modes and activating the parking camera.

Mercedes-Benz GLA centre console storage and wireless charging

However, that repurposed area still feels underutilised since the GLA does not lack storage options. Just in front of the new rubber pad lies a shuttered storage that offers 2 cupholders and a slim shelf that doubles as the wireless charging pad.

Mercedes-Benz GLA front seats

Interior quality remains a standout feature for the entry-level Mercedes SUV, in terms of the fit and finish, premium materials, and tactile elements such as turbine-style AC vents.

Feature Upgrades

The 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLA update keeps the entry-level luxury SUV up to date in terms of features. The 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system now runs the latest MBUX software, offering wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality. Combined with the aforementioned wireless charging pad, it allows you to keep the central console free from wire clutter.

Mercedes Benz GLA dual-zone climate control

A noteworthy addition is the 360-degree camera and enhancing parking convenience, complemented by Active Parking Assist for ease of automated parallel parking. The interior now boasts electrically adjustable front passenger seats with memory function, panoramic sliding sunroofs (split design), a 10.25-inch digital driver display, dual-zone climate control, and a 64-colour ambient lighting system. These small feature upgrades elevate the GLA's interior to keep it placed in the realm of modern luxury cars.

Mercedes Benz GLA dual sunroof

Rear Seat Comfort

No noticeable change has been made to the rear seats of the Mercedes GLA as part of this facelift. They continue to be spacious with plenty of cushioning, but the backrest angle for the rear seats feels too upright and could get tiring over long journeys. You can recline and slide the rear seats too, but the range of adjustment is more for the benefit of optimising the boot space than enhancing passenger comfort.

Mercedes Benz GLA rear seats

Rear passengers get the comfort of rear AC vents, Type-C charging ports and additional storage but will have to make do without any cup holders.

Boot Space and Practicality

For a smooth-shaped entry-level luxury SUV, the Mercedes GLA has a generous boot rated at a capacity of 425 litres. It can easily accommodate large suitcases or small bags, suitable for impromptu weekend plans with the family. The rear seats, foldable in a 40:20:40 ratio, provide flexibility for varying cargo requirements. You know how we mentioned the rear seat adjustment was more for the luggage space than comfort? It’s not exactly a bad thing as it does broaden the practicality of the GLA.

Powertrain and Performance

Mercedes Benz GLA 2024 driving front

The GLA continues to be offered with two engine options: a 1.3-litre turbo petrol and a potent 2.0-litre diesel. You also get the choice of Mercedes’ 4MATIC AWD system with the diesel engine in the top-spec AMG Line variant and that’s the one we drove. It is the engine of choice if you want some gusto from the little Mercedes SUV, churning out a respectable 190 PS and 400 Nm. This diesel engine comes mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT), allowing the AWD version to achieve a 0-100kmph time of 7.5 seconds with a commendable mileage of 18.9 kmpl, as per its maker. 

Mercedes Benz GLA 2024 driving rear

Those stats make more sense when you get to driving the diesel-powered GLA. It is calm and composed in city traffic and also happy to clear the queue when you find a gap. The downshifts might feel sluggish when you put your foot down, but the rapid and torquey acceleration makes up for it. You would expect these things given the numbers and the nature of most diesel engines, but it’s the highly refined nature of this powertrain that stands out even more.

Mercedes Benz GLA 2024 driving

Take the GLA out on a highway and you can let the diesel engine stretch its legs, cruising comfortably at triple digit speeds. You also get to use more of the performance for overtakes, quickly accelerating from 80 kmph to over 120 kmph. As a whole, this Mercedes 2-litre diesel in this SUV is a good fit, delivering overall satisfaction in performance, refinement and efficiency.

Ride and Handling Dynamics

Mercedes Benz GLA 2024 cornering

The Mercedes-Benz GLA offers a comfortable ride over smaller undulations and city speed breakers but the 19-inch rims on the AMG Line variant limit the suspension travel. As a result, it does feel a bit firm over larger bumps accompanied by an audible thud and you will need to slow down more for the harsher terrain. In case you’re worried about those massive rims while going over potholes, the 235/50 profile tyres will put your mind at ease, ensuring both durability and comfort.

Mercedes Benz GLA 2024 cornering

It stays flat when driving on highways and the suspension does not get unsettled by quick lane changes or overtakes, keeping the occupants comfortable. The GLA’s handling is not sporty but still sharp and predictable, giving you the confidence to carry your speed through the bends and curves in the road. For a small family SUV, it has sufficient grip to be fun and safe for hill station drives as well.

Conclusion

For many, buying their first luxury car is a significant milestone in life and it should feel special. As an entry point to luxury SUVs, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLA can offer that experience. The hatchback-like appearance can be a matter of personal taste, and the rear space is a bit limited, but the GLA does not feel like a compromise as an entry-level offering. The cabin experience feels luxurious with its premium materials, fit and finish, and the impressive list of creature comforts. That diesel engine really completes the package and will satisfy your needs in most situations. With this facelift, the GLA is a better car overall and a worthy contender of being the first luxury SUV for a nuclear family.

Mercedes-Benz GLA
Mercedes-Benz GLA
Rs. 50.50 Lakh
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