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.

Product Review

Who needs a Range Rover? BMW’s X7 has better tech and just as much luxury

The 2019 BMW X7 is the German automaker’s long-overdue entry into the full-size luxury SUV segment. Packing three rows of seats and plenty of tech, can the new BMW take on Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover?

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne Coupe is an exercise in form-over-function design

Porsche expanded its lineup of SUVs with a swoopier evolution of the Cayenne named Cayenne Coupe. Don't let the name fool you: it still has four doors. It stands out with a fastback-like roofline that's lower than the Cayenne's.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe gets a tech upgrade, keeps quirky styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe debuts at the 2019 New York Auto Show with an upgraded infotainment system that incorporates Mercedes' digital assistant. The SUV launches later this year with turbocharged four-cylinder power.

FWD vs. RWD vs. AWD: How the wheels that turn change the way you drive

Let's face it, you've likely heard front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive mentioned before in some context or another. But what do these terms mean, especially in terms of performance? We’ve got the answers.
Product Review

Chris is the virtual co-pilot phone-obsessives need in their car

Driving while using your phone is dangerous, and often illegal. Meet Chris, the digital assistant for your car that wants to help keep your hands off your phone, and your eyes on the road.

Protect yourself and your ride with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.

Formula 1 is putting data in the driver’s seat, and not all racers are happy

After a single weekend of racing, a Formula 1 pit crew typically pulls around 2TB of data from the car. Everything, from tire pressure to the temperature of the track, is recorded and analyzed in the name of boosting performance -- and not…

Tesla revives its referral program with chances to win a Roadster

Tesla has revived its referral program that ended in February because of cost pressures. This time around the perks aren't quite as diverse, though it does offer regular chances to win a Roadster or Model Y.

Tesla ends scheduled servicing because electric cars need less maintenance

Tesla will longer offer scheduled maintenance plans, switching to an "as needed" model. This reflects the fact that electric cars need less regular maintenance than gasoline or diesel cars.

The go kart-like Mini Cooper will soon add zero emissions to its resume

Mini is in the final stages of developing an electric version of the Cooper. The 2020 Cooper SE will receive powertrain components from the BMW i3, including a 181-horsepower electric motor and battery technology.
Product Review

By adding features, tech, and all-wheel drive, Mazda puts the 3 in a class of one

Since its introduction in 2003, Mazda’s compact Mazda3 has been a mainstay of the brand’s driver-oriented strategy. Mazda now plans to move upmarket, and the all-new 2019 Mazda3 offers some clues about how that’s going to work.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Robotic companions and computer-aided karaoke

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!

Tesla Model 3 vulnerability exposed at Pwn2Own; hackers take home the car

A Tesla Model 3 vulnerability was exposed at the Pwn2Own hacking competition. The hackers, who were able to display a message on the electric vehicle's internet browser, won $35,000 and took home the car.

Is this electric car startup the next Tesla, or will it go the way of Coda?

The electric car startup formerly known as EVelozcity has changed its name to Canoo. It also announced a lineup of four cars including a commuter-friendly model and a lifestyle-oriented car. Its first electric vehicles will begin to appear…