Mercedes’ fast, roomy, and efficient 2015 GLA is the epitome of futuristic

the 2015 mercedes benz gla epitome of car future

 This is what I consider the future of motoring in capsule form: the Mercedes-Benz GLA.

The all-new GLA is a compact crossover based upon the Mercedes A-Class but with a slightly taller ride for off-road capability, a bit more luxury for the discerning Mercedes customer, and a dab more power to justify its purchase price.

Just look at the thing. I don’t think it has one bad angle. It is absolutely gorgeous. I recently wrote about the car I’d like to see Porsche build: the Katana crossover. This, I reckon, is far better looking than our rendering. It’s simply staggering.

Under its sinewy body, the GLA packs a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder producing 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. All told, the GLA will make a 0-60 mph run in 6.4 seconds.

The first GLA to hit American shores in the fall of 2014 will be the all-wheel drive model with the new-gen permanent 4MATIC system packing fully variable torque distribution for improved traction, also known as torque vectoring. A few months later, the standard front-wheel drive model will go on sale in spring 2015.

Mercedes GLA interior

Slip inside and buyers will find a world-class interior with a floating infotainment screen that looks like a mix between the G550 and the S-Class.

Surprisingly, Mercedes is pushing the idea that the GLA will be off-road capable, bragging that models fitted with 4MATIC will include “DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation) and an off-road transmission mode as standard.” This is laughable to me because I doubt very much anyone will – or would ever want to – drive his or her GLA off the pavement on purpose.

Regardless of its off-road prowess, I still believe this car to be an example of the future of cars. It’s small, relatively light, powerful, efficient, outstanding looking, but most importantly it has a roomy interior.

If this vehicle description sounds at all familiar to you, that’s because it should. It is essentially how I described the BMW X1 – save the outstanding looks bit. Although I derided the X1 for being exceedingly expensive for its size, it was a very good little car.

The X1 was big in the front, small in the backseat, but then cavernous in the rear hatch area. It drove like a small sports sedan but hauled like a large SUV. It was fairly miserly on fuel but also had enough petrol power to give you a kick in the corners. And – at first glance at least – I’d say the GLA takes that brilliance and builds on it in every way.

But why, though, do I think it’s the epitome of all future cars?

Fuel economy standards are ratcheting up. That means cars are going to have to be more aerodynamic, efficient, and smaller. The GLA, then, hits on all fronts.

Americans have been steeped in SUV versatility for so many decades now, they dare not sacrifice that great utility, so the car of the future will have to hold a lot of stuff, despite its exterior dimensions. The GLA has that covered. It is both well packaged and apparently capable of tackling tricky road conditions.

Then, it’ll have to look good. Some buyers will sacrifice looks for efficiency – like those who bough a Prius. The mainstream, I feel, won’t.

Mercedes GLA backend

There is one thing standing between the GLA and being considered the car of the 21st century: price. Mercedes-Benz has not yet released the sticker price. I suspect when it does, however, it’ll be a bit steep. The X1 starts out cheap enough but by the time you’ve spec’d it how you want it, it’s rather pricey indeed. The GLA’s cousin, the soon-to-debut CLA, is priced rather reasonably so there’s hope the GLA will, too.

I’m rarely in awe of a car. When I am, though, it’s usually over something like a $300,000 hypercar. The GLA has me feeling all gooey inside. I look at it and see a new way forward for the global car market, and that is very exciting indeed.


Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

These winter-warrior cars will never leave you out in the cold

Snow can be an absolute pain if your vehicle isn't optimized to handle that sort of terrain. If brutal snowstorms are an annual part of your life, we recommend you pick up one of these winter-ready vehicles.

Thinking of opting for a car with a diesel engine? Here's what you need to know

Modern diesel-powered models prove that it is possible to build a clean, efficient diesel engine without sacrificing performance. Here's what you need to know about diesel cars, and how they differ from gasoline-powered models.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.

Aston Martin’s 1,000-hp Valkyrie will boast the Mona Lisa of the engine world

Aston Martin has released new details about its F1-inspired Valkyrie hypercar. Co-developed with Red Bull Racing, the Valkyrie will be one of the most aerodynamic production cars ever made.

The redesigned 2020 Passat shows Volkswagen still believes in sedans

The sedan segment in America is shrinking, but Volkswagen still believes in it. The German firm has released a teaser sketch to preview the redesigned 2020 Passat it will introduce during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show.

Infiniti previews its leap into one of the hottest industry segments

Infiniti has released a teaser image to preview a concept it will unveil at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The yet-unnamed design study is an electric crossover shaped by Infiniti's newest design language.

What’s next for in-car entertainment? Audi believes it knows

Audi is bringing two technologies to CES 2019. The first turns a car -- a luxury sedan, in this case -- into a drive-in movie theater. The second is presented as a new entertainment format that turns the journey into the destination.
Product Review

The all-new 3 Series proves BMW can still build a compelling sport sedan

Seat time in the entry-level BMW 330i ($41,425) and M340i xDrive ($54,995) will test the German automaker’s commitment to driving dynamics, powertrain refinement, and cutting edge technology.