2.0-liter DOHC I-4, turbocharged, CVVT (208 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 258 lbs-ft @ 1,250 rpm)

Tested Options: 4Matic AWD, Driver Assistance package, Active Parking, Blind Spot Assist, Wood Trim, HID Lamps

Every luxury manufacturer is in a relentless pursuit downmarket. There are a few reasons for this but the most important are increasing volume, amortizing common development costs and snagging life-long brand loyalists as early as possible. The Mercedes GLA is the latest entry in a growing segment: small luxury crossovers.

Small luxury branded vehicles are nothing new to our European friends, but until recently BMW and Mercedes kept anything small and front-wheel drive far away from American hands. Until now. In 2014, Mercedes took their A-Class FWD hatch and made a sedan out of it. Calling it a “CLA”, the Civic-sized sedan was a runaway success starting at $31,000. Since crossovers are the hot segment to be in these days, it didn’t take Mercedes long to jack the CLA up and add a rear hatch to create the GLA.

Does the GLA have enough luxury to convince Ford Escape shoppers to jump up to a Mercedes? And perhaps more importantly: is it a real Mercedes?

ExteriorMercedes’ latest corporate design works well on the GLA despite it being considerably shorter than the GLC (formerly known as the GLK). (Are you confused yet?) Before the CLA landed on the scene, I had been concerned that the corporate look would be awkward when combined with front-wheel drive proportions, but I was clearly wrong. The GLA is easily the best looking option in this segment in my opinion. The Q3 and X1 sport simple and elegant lines and the Evoque plays its Range Rover-Mini-Me card well, but the GLA is the compact luxury crossover that turns heads.

At 173.6 inches long, the GLA is nearly 9 inches shorter than the CLA, although it shares the sedan’s 106.3 inch wheelbase. As with most sedan/hatchback pairs, the 5-door can swallow more cargo despite being shorter. Much of the CLA’s added length is consumed by the bumpers and a longer hood to give the CLA a sleeker profile. Overall, the GLA slots between the X1 and Q3 in length, although Mercedes kept the roofline low making the interior feel tighter than the others.

While the aggressive sheet metal is standard, the HID headlamps and sexy LED tail lamps shown on our tester are optional. As we continue to dive deeper into the GLA, that’s the first hard truth that needs to be learned by shoppers new to the luxury segment. While the GLA, Q3, X1 and Evoque may sound like small bumps over that Hyundai Tucson Limited you’re cross-shopping, it is easy to get carried away with the options list.

InteriorThe GLA’s interior is styled after the CLA sedan. The dash is upright and cleanly designed around large circular air vents. The large expanse of real wood you see in the photo above is optional in the GLA, as it is with most of the competition. The base trim is a plastic interpretation of metal, $150 buys you aluminum and $325 buys you the real tree. Also optional in the GLA is leather seating, something most luxury makers are moving to in an effort to cut base prices. Of course, leather isn’t a standalone option — it’s part of a $1,700 option package that also requires a $2,300 option package bringing the total to $4,000 if you just want real hide in your baby Benz. Also optional (and also not on our tester) for 2015 is dual-zone automatic climate control. Unless you option up the aforementioned packages you get a single-zone partial auto system. Set the temperature and the damper is managed by the car automatically but the fan speed and vent selection is up to you. We’re told this too will be fixed in 2016 with a standard dual-zone system.

Despite the faux-leather, front seat comfort proved excellent in our tester with standard 14-way power seats with 2-way power adjustable headrests, four-way lumbar support and 3-position seat memory. Next year adds a hair more love with an extending thigh cushion for the driver. Out back things are more compact but not as compact as the CLA. In the CLA, it was not possible for anyone to sit behind me (I’m 6-feet tall, so not a giant by any stretch), but in the GLA there was acceptable knee room behind the driver’s seat. The overall design of the GLA, however, limits the rear seats more than the X1 or Q3. The GLA is not terribly wide compared to the size crossover up and it shows in the back where my head touched the outboard side of the ceiling.

In addition to leg room improving in the GLA, cargo room and car seat room improves. There was simply no hope of installing a rear-facing child seat in the CLA and putting a human in the front seat, but it is possible in the GLA thanks to the shape of the dashboard that allows the front passenger seat to slide farther forward than in many large crossovers. Behind the hatch you’ll find a few more cubic feet of space than in the CLA, but it is more cramped back there than mainstream crossovers like the CR-V.

InfotainmentThe size of the standard LCD (5.8 inches) is notably smaller than many entry-level, mass-market crossovers, and the optional 7-inch LCD is still smaller than what we see in the Escape and Tucson. Mercedes has announced that 2016 will make the optional 7-inch LCD standard, which is a welcome change as the larger screen costs $4,780 in 2015 (it requires both the Premium and Multimedia packages). One thing that is a stand-alone option though is the excellent Logic7 surround speaker system ($850) which is an option box I would check.

Even though our tester wore over $10,000 in options, the larger screen, navigation, voice command system, satellite radio and iPod interface were not among them. The lack of iPod love is unusual in 2015 and — stranger still — the GLA has a USB port and you can plug your media device in and charge, you just can’t play music via the link. Thankfully, this too will be addressed in the 2016 model that will have media integration standard. That means that the entertainment system in our $42,800 tester was quite limited compared to your average compact crossover. If you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for the factory nav system, Mercedes does have another answer — the $600 Becker MapPilot, a more limited navigation system that can be added at any time.

DrivetrainUnder the hood we see the same 2-liter engine that is spreading across the Mercedes lineup. Featuring direct injection and variable valve timing, the small engine cranks out 208 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of twist. As far as comparisons go, that’s about the same power as the Audi Q3’s 2-liter four banger but 25 percent more torque. BMW and Range Rover’s 2-liter four-cylinder engines put out more power than the GLA 250, but Mercedes has an answer for that: GLA 45 AMG. The AMG version of the GLA features a closely related 2-liter turbo that’s been dialled up to 11. The 2015 GLA 45 models will produce 355 horsepower and 332 lb-ft and the recently announced 2016 model will be good for a whopping 375 horsepower.

Power in all models is routed to the ground via essentially the same seven-speed, dual-clutch, robotically shifted manual that we see in the Mercedes CLA. An all-wheel drive system is optional on the GLA 250 and standard on GLA 45 AMG models. The AWD system in the GLA 250 is quite similar to every other AWD in this segment using a multi-plate clutch pack to send up to 50 percent of engine power to the rear without front axle slip. Thanks to the primarily front wheel drive nature, a light curb weight of 3,428 pounds and the efficient dual clutch transmission, the GLA is easily the most efficient crossover in this category topping out at 35 mpg highway and 29 combined in the front-wheel drive model and a still impressive 25 combined in the 355 horsepower GLA 45 AMG AWD.

DriveMercedes’ seven-speed DCT seems to have received a significant software update since I last sampled it in a 2014 CLA. In the sedan, the transmission hunted for gears frequently, starts were unexpectedly harsh and moderate-throttle downshifts were downright rough. The GLA 250, however, felt much like VW’s latest DSG designs: almost as smooth as an automatic. Drive the GLA on the highway and you’ll get the impression that the DCT is just a lightning-fast, traditional slushbox. Drive it in stop-and-go traffic and your passengers may ask “what’s wrong with your Mercedes?” Like all other cars with a dual-clutch transmissions (especially those that use dry clutches) the low-speed crawl experience can best be described as herky-jerky. Low-speed crawl (under 5 mph) up an incline really demonstrates the smoothness advantage of the traditional automatics in the Q3, X1 and Evoque.

The flip side of the less-than-smooth transmission is improved economy and improved acceleration. Our tester ran from 0-60 in 6.58 seconds, which makes the GLA 250 4Matic a hair faster than a 2015 BMW X1 xDrive28i and just about 3/10ths slower than the recently announced 2016 X1. Compared to Audi’s Q3, that’s a full second faster. While 35 mpg on level highway was achievable without much trouble in our AWD model, my weekly average was just under 27 due to my heavy right foot. Although engine noise under hard acceleration is improved over the CLA 250, the GLA was louder on the highway than the average mass-market crossover.

Among the reasons for the GLA’s impressive fuel economy are the “narrow” tires. I realize calling a 235/50R18 “small” may sound crazy, but remember that a quick troll around the local Audi lots revealed that around half the Q3 models sported 255/40R18 rubber. This tire size deficit has a direct effect on road holding. Even though the GLA is about 200 pounds lighter, the two-size bump in rubber means the GLA simply can’t hang with the Audi. Interestingly, upgrading to the GLA 45 AMG gets you stickier rubber but not wider rubber. Slap the available summer tires on the Q3 and it’d out-handle the GLA 45 as well.

Suspension tuning obviously plays an important role in handling. The GLA’s suspension is quite firm, almost too firm for my tastes in a standard non-sport trim. On the rough roads of Northern California, that firmness was far from an asset, making the GLA feel unsettled over broken pavement. “Crashy” was a word used by a passenger to describe the feeling.

On the flip side, the the GLA has one of the best front-wheel drive steering racks on sale in the USA. Like the CLA, the GLA has a hint of feedback, the steering is quick and sharp and it’s easy to tell what the front wheels are doing. On the downside, it’s also easy to tell that the front wheels get upset when pushing the car on rough roads. While the GLA may be seen as more fun than the Q3 in terms of feel, the Audi is the companion I’d want on my favorite winding road (I suspect the GLA would be more fun on a smooth track).

The pricing on the GLA is really the fly in the ointment for me, although this will improve slightly in 2016 with the increased standard feature set. $32,225 sounds like a great buy, but when you start adding options that most luxury shoppers want, the price builds rapidly. Our tester was $42,800 and lacked leather seats, navigation, automatic climate control, keyless entry, keyless go, a backup camera and a basic iPod/Media interface. Adding those options to our GLA 250 would have bumped the price to nearly $50,000. At that price, a BMW X3 xDrive 28i with essentially the same options and considerably more interior room and better driving dynamics is just $2,000 more. When seen as an upgrade from the mainstream competition, the GLA may start near a top-end Ford Escape, Honda CR-V or Hyundai Tucson, but the reality is a “comparably equipped” mainstream crossover is going to be $12,000-15,000 less.

Let me be clear: I don’t have a problem paying luxury prices for cars. I have owned luxury vehicles purchased new off the showroom floor, but the GLA is a crossover full of highs and lows. Even the base model is attractively styled and well put together, but you have to pay extra for leather and gadgets that are standard on non-luxury crossovers. Just adding what I would consider luxury basics will add nearly $9,000 to the starting price and topping that off with AWD pushes the GLA well over $40,000. The superb steering, strong acceleration and excellent fuel economy are counterpointed by the overly firm ride and handling that disappointed. The GLA unquestionably carves corners better than a CR-V or RAV4, but in this segment the GLA slots below the Q3 and X1 and in many ways behind similarly priced trims of the next class up including the BMW X3 xDrive28i, Volvo XC60 and Lincoln MKC. The Audi and BMW also offer more rear-seat room and a less expensive options list.

I think that Mercedes has been moving in the right direction making their entry into every segment the premium entry. The new C-Class for instance is more expensive than the competition, the difference is the C300 feels worth the premium. The GLA, on the other hand, just seems expensive.

Regardless those who disrespect Mercedes taking their sales downmarket, this car is more-than-enough for many wealth soccer moms, city moms and retirees who just don’t need the size and bulk of the ML – which up till now was the symbol of the wealthy suburban MILF.

I tested the car and made a video. Was very happy with it. I’m uploading a video of the 2016 SRX right now. For $60,000 I’d rather be in the GLA.

And yes – I hate the lies in advertising. I want to know upfront, the cost of any “luxury car” with Navigation, Panoramic moonroof, heated/cooled seats. That’s the minimum level of equipment I’m willing to accept for your “luxury car”.

I realize that automakers do actually do things such as blacklist reviewers if they are deemed too harsh/critical of said automakers’ vehicles, but screw that noise – if I were reviewing this or the CLA upon which it is based, I would take a photo of either vehicle with a giant pile of cow sh!t stacked on the hood, and then not hold back with my words, either.

These Mercedes (CLA & GLA) are deeply, deeply cynical products. They are vastly overpriced, hollowed out, poorly built, unrefined products.

The CLA I rented was just absolutely loathsome; I’d MUCH prefer an Accord, Sonata, Golf, Fusion, etc. to it.

Thank you. All you need to know about the CLA series is that there is a multicolored light option for the Mercedes star.

A typically thorough, informative review. The comments here prove you clearly made your point about the car’s flawed value proposition, and you did it the hard way: through painstaking presentation of the evidence, not the name-calling invective a few readers seem to mistake for real “courage.” Fine job, Alex.

tonycd – you said it. It took me a while to understand this, but I do now, and deeply respect Alex for his method.

I don’t even read the shouters who equal invective with courage. They add nothing to the conversation. You know who they are.

typical Deadweight. I have driven a GLA250 (not a CLA yet) and are they C class material? No but that’s why they are priced in your premium or entry luxury segments. The margins on these are crazy and they sell like crazy because of the name. I don’t think they hurt the brand since people want a cheaper and more practical car that still says Mercedes. I think the real problem is price. To get this to be properly outfitted it’s $45k-$50k. For it to perform like a Mercedes the AMG versions is around $50k base. Just too much for a CUV that is based on the CLA and A class.

“Deeply cynical” is a great way to describe these cars but people are buying them anyway. People like to pay for a badge and the auto industry is happy to satisfy them with cars like this.

I live in NYC and regularly see the GLA parallel parked behind vehicles that seem strikingly similar for a fraction of the price. Look at one side-by-side with a Mazda3. Other than ride height they look so similar and the Mazda may even be more attractive. Look at it next to a Subaru Crosstrek and the profiles seem identical. (In fairness the MB is better looking than the Crosstrek but at what cost?)

If you’re doing a lease on a luxury crossover and you’re a new mom with just a baby and a small child, those children aren’t going to be very big in 4 years so this fits fine for some people. I do understand your criticism. My aunt avoided the 2016 SRX because her 2009 had a 3rd row and a similarly sized second row.

I doubt that, BTSR. I see the purchaser of this car as a 31 year old single woman who just got her student loans paid off and now makes $80,000, which she spends on fashionista items like this silly rig. Her BFF is all atwitter about rolling in it.

Same demographic exists for the CLA, only the buyer is a guy. And he spends his spare money on hair product and getting laid, which the “Benz” is a definite aid in.

In other words, this is a poseur-mobile, and the minute Ms. GLA and Mr. CLA get together and even think of having kids, they’re gonna dump those cars like they’re hot and proceed right to the Honda dealership, because in the end, they ain’t got Benz money.

I’m seeing a lot of grey-haired people in these in the Bay Area. The ML (GLE now?), and for that matter the X5, have gotten to be too large and unwieldy for not-so-confident drivers to park in the underground garages of the city.

I like some of Taco Bell’s food. Typically when menu items aren’t good, they get changed. It’s all sales-based.

The amount of luxury in the GLA is not proportional to its price. That’s Alex’s point–at the entry price it seems like a great buy, until the poor refinement and lack of standard equipment start to become very obvious.

For the properly equipped trim, the $40k-plus price tag does not present $20k worth of refinement over a non-luxury brand.

The CLAs I drove reminded me of a nicer Mazda3. Tinny and cheerful, great steering but with more get up and go and better front seats.

Unfortunately, the CLA door cards were too small leaving body color door frames to admire, and front wheel tire noise was dreadful. The center console was horrifyingly cheap and the shifter a joke. To top it all the back seat is smaller than the Mazda’s.

The trouble is, these Mercedes compete with the lower trim Mazda3, which all have a rearview camera standard. Thus the CLA/GLA is essentially a double price Mazda3 but with a free Atilla the Hun size grille badge.

To those that buy them that is all that matters and excuses will be invented for all shortcomings. These owners never stain their clothes by test-driving a regular hoi polloi vehicle, and assume that they must be worse, just because.

Fantastic city car?! Our MB dealer gives these things out as loaners while they figure out how to make your routine service visit cost $4,000, and I do not agree with you. A fantastic city car needs to have good visibility (did you try to see out of this when you drove one?), have good power (it has power; you just never know how much you’re going to get, or how long it will take for it to show up) and be nimble (okay, it steers fine, but the ride is so hard that it practically bump-steers over anything other than perfect pavement). It’s offensively cheap for anything that costs $40k. It’s rough and loud, and it never stops feeling like it’s punishing you for being too cheap to buy a “real” Mercedes. I cannot imagine anyone buying one who hadn’t already decided to buy one before they went shopping, and who had not ever driven any other new car.

I kind of agree with our friend BTSR here. We enjoy a free market. If you make a car that people buy and people buy at a high price and it sells and you make money, then you deserve it.

I thought you guys were having me on about this “illuminated star”. I could not believe they could reach this level of cynical douchebaggery…

Ah its sad, I see Kia’s portfolio these days and think… hey, these Koreans kinda know whats up. I’m after honest engineering and a product that has modest, achieveable goals. And you know, Hellcats.

BUT – If I can advertise the hell out of it and get India and China’s population to buy them…no matter how crappy I think it is, it will be successful.

I can’t take it seriously until they address the interior materials. You can plunk a strip of real wood in the middle, but the rest is still Kia-grade. It’s not that they don’t know how to do it much better; the C-Class interior looks similar, but feels vastly nicer. It’s just a cheap and cynical product.

It’s also a joke that you can spend $42k and not get automatic climate control, which is now standard in a $18k Corolla LE.

I would argue that the majority of Kia interiors are better than this, and better than most of their competitors for that matter.

I agree, Kia has really upped their game. I would say that where the Kia interiors really beat the competition is in where they cut the corners. Everyone has to cut a corner or two but Kia has been cutting all the right ones lately. Hard plastics out of the reach of the driver, bundling options to save cash, in some models limiting features just to the driver’s seat like 4-way lumbar, seat ventilation and extending thigh cushions. All the right choices in my book.

If you sat in the middle seat of the second row and aimed a 12 gauge with buckshot at the GLAs dash, at least it would add some real texture.

I have to disagree that having better seat for driver only is a good idea. I have to cross off most non-luxury cars from my shopping list because my wife doesn’t want 2nd class seating on the passenger side. Any power passenger seat with more than 4-way is extremely rare. Hyundai/Kia hopefully are setting a trend, as the new Tucson has 6-way, and the new Sorento has 8-way on their top trims. I don’t know of any others that have more than 4-way, and even that much is unavailable on most. This is surprising when you consider that women play a large role in car buying decisions.

On my LS460, both seats have adjustable fore/aft position, recline, height, thigh height, headrest, and in/out lumbar support. Pretty good. But the driver’s seat also adds up/down adjustment on the lumbar support and extending thigh support.

The Forester, consistent with Subaru’s style, has the typical 6-way plus lumbar power driver’s seat, but only manual fore/aft and recline adjustments on the passenger seat.

Oddly, the only car I’ve ever owned that had identical adjustments on both sides (and quite a lot of them, including bolster tightness) was an ’89 Taurus SHO. Of course they were only identical when both seats were fully working, which was less often than you’d hope.

You have to literally spend More money to get features that are “standard” in other NON-luxury autos?!

The dash console is Horrible with the 3 holes for the air/heat with the display on top and [email protected] looking radio below.

You know that MB can create a car with rear head and leg room with a “.. 106.3 inch wheelbase” but it did NOT!

What’s the point of paying for an Overpriced MB that’s relatively CRAMPED and lacks “basic” features?!

Might as well get yourself a pre-owned Lexus or a [top-line trim] NON-luxury vehicle for the selling price of this MB model!

Better yet… how about MB exporting other models that are available in Europe that costs less there but has more Standard features instead of just creating a newer model for Americans?

Motorweek/Cars.com just did a small UV test w/ automotive writers and real consumers and at the bottom were the MazdaCX5, Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester.

The CR-V came in first. The Mazda came in last. Ford didn’t have an Escape”available” – whatever that means – so the Mazda may not have been last had Ford supplied one. Dealers’ lots are lousy w/ Escapes. Didn’t have one available. Right. http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/05/26/challenge-picks-best-compact-suv-for-28000/27806149/

That’s a nice plug for Honda and I’m sure they appreciate the free advertising on the comment thread for a vehicle they are not competing against, but what is the relevance?

“But CR-V’s not the champ by much. It outscored the No. 2 finisher, the Chevrolet Equinox, by a mere five points on a 1,000-point scale.

And how many “real consumers” did they tap for the review? A single family of 4. Wow, the statistical power.

Thin point spread and a panel that put an ancient 4-cylinder Equinox in an effective first place tie. That about confirms my existing opinion of these weak and thin Cars.com/Motorweek/USAToday comparison tests.

The author needs to check his math. The CR-V scored 17 points better than the 2nd place finisher, which was the Equinox. It’s pretty bad to post something as a fundamental conclusion of the article and not check the numbers. The gap to 2nd wasn’t small, and the gap to 3rd-5th was large.

The Equinox was propped up by being the choice of the family of non-experts chosen to offer a consumer’s perspective on the subject. Left to the judgement of the automotive journalists, the CR-V stood alone. I guess you stopped reading when you found a point that you liked.

And what part of that refutes the claim that this was poor review with no relevance to Alex’s, and that other references would have better fulfilled Thornmark’s unexplained desire to promote the CR-V here?

And a journalists opinion is so much more valid than the target customers? The Equinox’s shortcomings might matter to a BMW-addicted journalist, but they don’t to a real world family. In fact its massive for the class wheelbase imparts it with full-size luxury sedan rear seat space with a very compliant ride. I own a Terrain and its ride quality and comfort are second-to-none in the class. That matters far more than canyon carving or a more gropable dash.

So it’s ironic that the target consumers loved the ride of the Equinox and knocked down the Terrain for having an uncomfortable ride. I’m not arguing that the Equiterrain are among GM’s most competent and successful products. I just don’t consider them equal to the CR-V in some important metrics for a small CUV, like fuel economy combined with performance. With the Equinox you have to pick one or the other. The Magic Seats of the CR-V are a nice touch too. Most of the other stuff is down to preferences and experience, but I’m comfortable saying the CR-V is a better choice in the popular configurations for the way most people use CUVs.

>>That’s a nice plug for Honda and I’m sure they appreciate the free advertising on the comment thread for a vehicle they are not competing against, but what is the relevance?<<

>>And what part of that refutes the claim that this was poor review with no relevance to Alex’s,<<

Really? Reading comprehension is not your strong suit. Alex, the author of the article started out by asking:

"Does the GLA have enough luxury to convince Ford Escape shoppers to jump up to a Mercedes? And perhaps more importantly: is it a real Mercedes?

So, if you read the article, it was Alex, the author, that made the initial allusion between the Merc and "a vehicle they are not competing against". This same article goes on to mention and compare many vehicles in the CR-V class w/ the Merc. That is sort of Alex’s point, altho you seem to have completely missed it. You also missed the fact that Alex mentioned the CR-V three times himself! And that’s not because Alex stated the 2015 CR-V is the best in its segment in his earlier review,.

Reading Alex’s allusion to the Escape I remembered that Ford failed to compete in the comparison test of its peers and thought that should be highlighted because everyone knows there are plenty of Escapes available plus the results may help explain to some here why the Mazda sells so poorly.

Since you brought it up, obviously the CR-V needs no help sales wise but for what its worth MT also picked the revamped CR-V as its 2015 SUV of the year noting its superior blend of ride and handling – in contrast to the "appliance" label some persist in using. Or is it just another “poor review” to discard because it doesn’t adhere to someone’s preconceptions?

Poppycock, CJ. You’re a Honda devotee and you certainly don’t like me, so you are not writing from a neutral position.

I was a BMW devotee until the E60 made it clear that the E65 wasn’t a fluke, and they were done making desirable cars. Today Honda is succumbing to CAFE pressure to make the same sort of garbage everyone else is making. I’m not one to blindly support anything, which is why the two of us rarely find common ground.

Thornmark, I understand. When you really, really love a brand, everything–no matter how tangential–seems directly related. Doesn’t matter that Alex clearly devoted far more space to comparing the GLA to its actual competitors–BMW, Audi, Land Rover.

There is nothing wrong with being the resident Honda-phile, but your first comment was certainly driven by that position rather than relevance to the article. Given that, I am not sure you are in the position to accuse another of reading comprehension problems or preconceived bias.

And the Cars.com/Motorweek/USAToday comparison was crappy because it was crappy. They’ve done a number of those things and they’ve all been bad.

“Our tester was $42,800 and lacked leather seats, navigation, automatic climate control, keyless entry, keyless go, a backup camera and a basic iPod/Media interface.”

The semi-automatc climate control in my 1995 USA M3 was really nice. Of course in the M3 of that vintage at least the controls were actually mechanical knobs with no LCD in sight.

I hate the “we stuck an iPad on the dash” look. Mazda 3 is actually worse because it blocks more of your view.

Drivers seating position is awful. For a suv like auto. Very bad drivers position, very Camaro like. One of the worst test drives I’ve taken in years.

Or maybe Godawful LA…which is where I guarantee you a inordinate amount of these silly things are sold.

I see more and more evidence of MB cost-cutting with E-Classes driving around. Trim issues and hazed headlamps before 5 years old?! HUH!?

For what I could personally own that car for, I would be telling the world I was ignorant by choosing a GLA over it.

I’d rather own a Mirage. A Mirage says you have crap credit; a GLA says you qualify for a decent lease but are an utter moron.

It’s tough out there in car land when there are virtually no useful “luxury” features that aren’t available on the mass market cars. Why am I paying $50k for a 208hp GLA when I can get a dozen equally luxurious (but less brand snobby) crossovers for way less? You can get a bunch of midsize 5 passenger crossovers for way less – even before negotiating – Ford Edge, Nissan Murano come to mind.

Right. When a $30K Sonata comes with navigation, leather, smart key, dual-zone climate control, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise, heated and cooled seats and a panoramic sunroof, if I’m the average buyer, it suddenly becomes a lot harder to justify that Mercedes-Benz or BMW. The Hyundai will probably last longer, too…

You can get “luxury” (quiet, comfort, serene ride) out of the luxury brands that you can’t get out of the mainstream brands, but you can’t get it at a mainstream-car price. For that you have to step up at least to the midsize sedan and midsize crossover classes, at which point you’re well over $50,000 for a modestly equipped version.

This is true. A 535i priced the way I want would be near to $70K. That would honestly be fine, if not for the fact that I know I can pick up one that’s two or three years old for $35K, not to mention the fact that the 5-Series will soon be redesigned, and it’ll drop in value even further.

I still can’t convince myself to do a BMW or Audi covered only by the limited CPO warranty. But this is exactly why I bought a gently used Lexus. $75k car, like-new condition, $25k-ish price ($30k+ after all repairs and costs). And real luxury, even if it’s missing a few of the spec-sheet features you’d find on a 2015 version.

I did buy a 2011 X5 a month ago that happened to have a CPO warranty. It doesn’t cover sh!t. It didn’t even cover the key I had that needed to be reprogrammed because it wouldn’t work with the Comfort Access functions (“Now, if the key had prevented the car from starting altogether, BMW might have covered it” is what the poor service advisor sheepishly had to tell me).

I used CarMax’s 30-day repair guarantee for the key and my CarMax warranty for the expensive, $3,200 iDrive screen replacement for which the X5 is currently at the local dealership.

I think they have different levels of CPO warranty, but they get outrageously expensive, more-so than CarMax’s post-DeMuro warranty pricing. The one I have doesn’t cover any of the auxiliary-module malfunctions and periodic programming resets that crop up on modern Bimmers. I wouldn’t recommend it.

I would be owning a BMW if there was a hypothetical $37K 5-series with a 3.0L NA I6, cloth seats, manual HVAC, 4 speaker audio, tilt-only steering wheel, etc.

Third party warranties were a pretty much a scam back in the day. I’m not too surprised to learn Carmax’s warranty isn’t covering everything, my view is CPO had better come from the mfg or no dice.

@28-Cars-Later—No, the CarMax warranty *is* covering everything; it’s the CPO warranty that doesn’t. The CarMax warranty is essentially an exclusionary warranty, in that it lists what *isn’t* covered, and pretty much everything else is.

@ajla—For the first year of the current (F10) 5-Series, which was 2011, the N/A 3.0-liter I6 carried over to from the E60 on the 528i. For 2012, the 528i had the turbo-four. I don’t know why you’d want one that de-contented, though. Just buy a Charger.

I’m close to joining Dal with a used LS460 as my next purchase, assuming I don’t get fed up with snow tire swaps, in which case I may go for an AWD 300 (they are really inexpensive new, especially with a FCA employee discount – 300S AWD can be had new for as low as 27k), a 2010 to 2012 (last gen) Lincoln MKZ, a new Accord with a manual transmission, or my 72 year old neighbor’s 2009 Acura RL that has less than 40,000 miles on it.

Additional: I think the MY09 TL is the one with the beak and overall ugly appearance. For the right money sure, but I think in the 30Kish range its LS460. If you want to do 20 or less then its things like Zephyr, S80, maybe used 300 AWD <25K miles.

The car just happened to have a CPO warranty. CarMax didn’t volunteer that information. It was just on the title check and I confirmed it with BMW. It had two previous owners; one of them must have paid for it.

I specifically asked BMW Corporate and they said it didn’t cover the keys, and pointed to documentation.

There are plenty of AWD LS460s out there, but they tend to come with the air suspension which adds likely maintenance expense (air springs can be troublesome). They also have a more restrictive exhaust which drops HP from 380 to 360, although the difference isn’t really noticeable until you get into the tach’s far upper reaches.

I’ve driven plenty of current-gen 300s. They are very nice cars for the money. But they are just not in the same league as the LS with respect to material and build quality. Ride of the LS is also nicer, although it’s a closer question.

The RL will get you the same top-notch material quality (it’s the one Honda that still has it) but with not nearly as much quietness or ride refinement.

Lock your car, even if you put it in a garage. Apparently locking the doors turns the car off. If you shut the engine off but don’t lock the doors, the car electronics and 60 odd computers stay on for another 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the car goes into sleep mode. This is what 2 dealers have told me. BTW, I learned this when we killed the battery, and you’re right about BMW’s lovely CPO warranty. It covers much less than it used to.

Secondly, between 50-60k miles, you will lose your plastic water pump. That is covered, but you’ll need a tow. It’s good you have a warranty because that repair is $1400.

How is AWD a substitute for winter rubber? How does AWD help braking in the snow and ice or an expected quick lane change?

If it’s a real Mercedes-Benz they should at least give you some hood struts and not a cheap hood prop. I get the feeling this is an over-priced economy car.

MB is having a difficult time making “cheap” cars. I see enough of them so maybe it’s worthwhile to sales. I wonder tho if those buyers will move up?

Good question. The Benz lineup is great, as soon as you spend C-Class money. Under that, you’re looking at a CLA or this thing, and as far as I’m concerned, anyone who would pick a CLA over, say, a loaded Mazda 3 with the 2.5, or a Golf, needs his head examined. Ditto for this silly rig – a fully loaded CRV is about $33,000 and offers a real back seat. All it lacks is the “oooooh, you have a Benz now” cooing from the owner’s friends.

Of course, as soon as the friends discover they have to be no taller than 4’3″ to fit in the “Benz,” they might think differently. And the schmuck who bought the “Benz” to begin with might too.

Could this impact their future decision to splurge on a E-class? Maybe. But let’s be honest…Mercedes has unrivaled snob appeal, so maybe not.

Indeed, I just picked up a Madza 3 with the 2.5, and I think it holds it’s own with any of the entry lux cars (A3 1.8t, 320i, CLA) from the front seat forwards. Obvious differences from the rear seat back, but my kids just don’t care. A golf SEL would solve those problems for few thousand more.

You don’t need to have a feeling, Kyree…you’re actually right, far as I’m concerned. The Golf drives better than the CLA.

Between the Mazda3, the Golf/Golf SportWagen and nicer versions of the Focus, unless you were going for an AMG, why would you even bother with the CLA and GLA-Class?

Almost bought a 2015 closeout GSW SEL in black, but even with the end of year discounts, it was still too much for the family at this time. Loved it, though- would have been the complete package. Also considered the Jetta SEL, but could not get past the crappy trip computer and the fact that they don’t offer it in anything but shades of gray, white, and black. None were left with the lighting package that would have solved the trip computer issue.

If the MQB GSW is built like the MQB GTI, there’s absolutely no question. It comes across as far more premium than the CLA, and I assume the GLA is the same as the CLA in that respect.

And meanwhile…a fully loaded CRV is $33,000 and comes with a back seat that actual humans can sit in.

I have no problem with the GLA’s FWD underpinnings and it seems to be a well-engineered vehicle, but I just don’t see the value proposition here. It’s subcompact, meaning it’s much smaller than a Tucson or Escape that would be several thousand dollars cheaper, and…like you said, the options list can take your wallet by surprise. If I could get one decently-equipped for $40K, or essentially loaded for $45K, it might make more sense.

It’s a BENZZZZZZZZZZZZ….and they can afford it (well, afford to lease it anyway)….that’s the value proposition, at least for people who are preoccupied with status.

The only one I’d get is the GLA 45 AMG, just because I love the way it drives. But a regular GLA-Class? Nah.

For it to cheapen the brand, it would have to actually be cheap. But for “real” CLAs or GLAs you need to spend $45k +, so they’re definitely not cheap. You could get a real 3 series for that money.

That’s my problem. It’s not even that cheap. I wouldn’t even care so much if you didn’t have to load it up past $45K for stuff like dual-zone climate control.

Really make me happy with my Mazda CX-5 Grand Touring decision. More room, similar handling I’ll bet, and way more feature content with leather, Nav, bluetooth and usb streaming, blind spot monitoring, dual zone climate etc.

As the “normal” manufacturers improve the luxury brands are going to have to be more price competitive. This one is just ridiculous.

I agree somewhat, it’s not FUGLY but looks like Mercedes version of a QX50 which is ironic since the new Q30 is based on the GLA. I agree I like the looks of the X series a lot better even the X1

That’s a good point. The Infiniti EX35, which came out in 2008 and never sold because it was too small in the back and not a real CUV, seems so similar now.

As a robber baron, I’m FURIOUS that the plebes in middle management can afford a new Mercedes-Benz. I think I’ll use my tax cuts to buy a nice Bentley instead. Buttery Connolly hides and all that, without the stink of the hoi polloi that I’d get if I bought an S-Class.

I saw an elderly woman in about a 15 year old Arnage pull up to a post office in Van Buren, Arkansas this past weekend, of all places. You could tell the car was being daily driven rather than coddled in a garage somewhere. I wonder how they hold up to that?

Old Southern Gentility money? This Azure I see is right at the end of the production time, it’s got the modern face on it.

Yeah, but unless you get that Bentley all tricked out with chrome spinners, hydraulic suspension and wrapped in gold, you’re just one of those regular Joe’s driving their basic Bentley. Tough luck only being Hampton’s rich.

This is no surprise as the CLA and GLA are in fact slightly tweaked versions of the A class economy car. There is simply no hiding the fact that these cars were designed to get Frau Schmidt to the shops and back in economy and safety while luxury wasn’t much of a consideration. Adding a strip of wood and some expensive leather is simply lipstick on the proverbial economy pig.

It just goes to prove that people don’t learn from the mistakes of others. Jaguar clearly learnt their lesson from the X-Type yet here is Mercedes making a X-Type.

Look at the interior on the GLK. It’s also fail. And the exterior is just a clone of a gen 1 Highlander.

The difference is that at least Mercedes designed their own car, instead of borrowing a low rent Ford Contour as a base.

More evidence for my theory of convergence of upscale brands moving downmarket and value brands moving up. The lack of basic conveniences is obvious. What remains to play out is the maintenance costs and residual values of these stripper “luxury” vehicles. Low residuals will raise leasing cost and will be the death of this segment 24 to 36 months from now.

I suspect that MB is so expert at what its down-market cult members respond to that they could have their graphics people simulate a PET scan of same.

“GLA 250 would have bumped the price to nearly $50,000. At that price, a BMW X3 xDrive 28i with essentially the same options and considerably more interior room and better driving dynamics is just $2,000 more.”

The QX70 AWD with a 3.7L is also $50,000 and is RWD based, much larger, and has real leather and wood. I can’t BELIEVE the price they’re hocking the GLA and X3 for.

Just leased a RDX but looked at the Mercedes GLA250 and Lexus NX200T. The Mercedes is wel,l a Mercedes so you get the cache of owning one but like the article states you loose a ton of features that comes standard on Japanese luxury cars or upper trim Chevys or Kias. For me adding leather seats, heated seats, and ect are essential to luxury or just driving a nice car and paying $5k-$10k just for a car that I may or may not keep after 3 years is crazy. However the NX200T was very compelling but it has a massive blind spots and both the Mercedes and Lexus base engines don’t have the pull of the 3.5 liter RDX.

Those who know what real luxury is (hint: it’s not electronic this and automatic that) will continue to buy the real luxury cars.

A 1998 Rolls Royce Silver Seraph is more luxurious than a 2015 Nissan Versa, even though it has none of the 2015’s gadgets.

This. Once certain features became standard across even the cheapest of econoboxes, material quality and driving experience became what defines luxury. When you sit in a car and close the door and just KNOW by the sights and smells and sounds that it’s far better than your current ride…that’s luxury.

This overpriced poseur-mobile is just as expensive as a 2.0T Q5 when similarly equipped and only a few thousand less than the 3.0T model. It is also thousands more than the Acura RDX. Aside from the three-pointed star, I don’t see how the GLA has any appeal when considering price.

Wow, that comparison puts things into perspective. An RDX unmercifully kills the GLA in absolutely any metric relevant to CUVs other than “ITS UH BENZZ.” Any. And that’s true despite the RDX’s gimped AWD.

I agree that’s why I leased a RDX over a 250. The RDX has a faster 0-60 with it’s based motor compared to the 250, BMW X1, MKC 2.3, or NX200T. Plus you get a bunch of standard features that Mercedes charges for. It really just comes down to the emblem since the RDX has a high realistic residuals, good reliability, good fuel economy. Is the RDX sexy? No but it certainly does the job

I can’t wait to see Santander-repo’d GLAs and CLAs with broken center screens and loose WoodTech inlays misfiring through the block for ~$15000.

The Best Or Nothing for $800 down and $90/wk and High-Class Import Motors Autos Finance, LLC on Tampa’s beautiful Nebraska Ave!

That illuminated star is hands down the douchiest thing ANYONE can do to a car. Every time I see one on the road I have to fight the primal urge not to cross the center line and plow head-on into the car in question.

Good lord I can’t wait for the crossover craze to die a painful death so we no longer have to look at dreck like this. Mark my words it’s coming and in ten years, crossovers will be as toxic as minivans are now or the way wagons were by the mid-80s.

We truly have entered a new malaise era of automotive design barring a few exceptions. This is the Cimarron of Mercedes design; a flagrant cash-grab masked just enough to keep the average consumer from noticing right away.

The staggering selection of affordable performance suggests that we are in a golden age of cars. Consider the hot hatches and affordable performance sedans available today, for those who want performance AND practicality in one car, on a budget:

VW GTI Abarth 500 (these can be had for near the price of base Fiat 500s) Ford Focus ST Ford Fiesta ST Subaru WRX Honda Civic Si

I’m not a fan of CUVs but I can understand the appeal of a slightly raised body for ingress/egress.

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I agree, but there are two problems with hot hatches. Some of these cost $30-$35k loaded which is on the same page if not more than a loaded CUV. Secondly besides the WRX none offer AWD or the ground clearance I want since I live in the north east.

I agree but there are a bunch of people that would disagree with us. I am 28 but most people want the cache and supposed sport feeling of the 250. I love the RX but again I like a bigger CUV that rides soft and quiet. I really liked the Ecoboost 2.3 but MPG is spotty and in my experience the Escape isn’t the most reliable car, plus both these are are known as old men cars.

Thanks to the Mercedes Nissan partnership, you can buy a near identical car with an Infinity badge – the Q30.

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