Mercedes GLA: the bogus off-road vehicle for the rough


The pseudo-off-road vehicle for the rough

Mercedes GLA: the bogus off-road vehicle for the rough-off-road

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Also off-road: the Mercedes GLA competes against the Audi Q3 and BMW X1 in spring with a starting price of 29,304 euros.

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Mercedes GLA: the bogus off-road vehicle for the rough-off-road

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The basic model GLA 200 is powered by a 1.6-liter gasoline engine with 156 hp.

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Mercedes GLA: the bogus off-road vehicle for the rough-bogus

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The basic diesel GLA 200 CDI with 136 hp costs from 32,100 euros…

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Mercedes GLA: the bogus off-road vehicle for the rough-mercedes

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…the top-of-the-line GLA 250 4 Matic with all-wheel drive and 211 hp is available for 37,497 euros.

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Mercedes GLA: the bogus off-road vehicle for the rough-rough

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The high-tech monitor on the center console.

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Mercedes GLA: the bogus off-road vehicle for the rough-mercedes

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Its relationship to the G-Class (rear) is only distant,

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Mercedes GLA: the bogus off-road vehicle for the rough-vehicle

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Audi, for example, charges 30,250 euros for its base Q3, the 140 hp diesel version with front-wheel drive. At BMW there is a comparable X1 for 30,600 euros.

Source: Daimler

Like many of its competitors, the Mercedes GLA is only an off-road vehicle on paper. Even so, it is being tested off-road. The fashion Mercedes does its job surprisingly well.

Zu You would rather not walk along here: the path leads steeply uphill and at the other end even steeper down again, the few tracks are barely visible in the ankle-deep mud and huge puddles lurk in the forest clearings. If you make a driving mistake here and have to get out, you will inevitably get dirty after two or three steps.

But Rudiger Rutz still looks licked. He has been curving through this gravel pit on the Swabian Alb for hours. And not with a G- or M-Class that Mercedes uses here for off-road driving courses. Rutz is at the wheel of a brand new GLA that is to be given the finishing touches between its world premiere at the IAA in September and its market launch next spring.

Rutz rarely goes on the moguls because the GLA is actually made for the boulevard. “Basically, this is a completely normal compact car,” says the top test driver from the Mercedes team. The A-Class is under the sheet metal. “That’s why we stayed on asphalt for 95 percent of our test drives.” That doesn’t mean that Rutz wouldn’t enjoy the remaining five percent.

Flying lumps of mud

Despite the conventional basis, the GLA naturally offers the option of all-wheel drive and has significantly more ground clearance than the A-Class. “That makes a noticeable difference,” explains Rutz, while the water fountains rise outside and the lumps of mud fly. Follow the Amazon or cross the Sahara – there are better cars for that than the GLA.

"But hikers, hunters or recreational athletes would have to go almost anywhere in our latitudes where one is allowed to drive a car," says Rutz and lets his prototype climb a 40 percent incline, behind which a forest passage begins with a narrow tree trunk slalom.

There the GLA does better than any other off-road vehicle from Stuttgart. Not because he had such tremendous assertiveness. But because at 4.42 meters long and 1.80 meters wide, it is the handiest car in the portfolio and fits more easily through the gaps between the trees.

In view of their target group, the Swabians at the GLA did without real off-road extras such as can be bought for the M-Class and especially for the G-Class. Because the competitor to the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 is not aimed at daring researchers, but rather at young mothers and sporty singles whose jungle is the big city.

G as in terrain

The matt shimmering sheet metal under the front and rear bumpers, which occasionally scratch the mud when there are particularly sharp changes in inclination, are no protection, just a show and are appropriately part of the "Urban" design package.

You won’t find robust plastic planks for the flanks in the price list, and the developers didn’t even think about silly things like bumper strips or roof racks with additional headlights. "We don’t even have a real all-terrain tire in our range of accessories," says test driver Rutz.

With spindly summer tires on stately 19-inch wheels, he sends his test car through the mud. "That is the worst possible combination for such a terrain."

But there is no reason why the GLA, which costs at least 32,130 euros, does not have its “G” (like terrain) in the type code. After all, Mercedes not only offers the all-wheel drive known from the A-Class and CLA with almost fully variable power distribution for an extra charge of around 2200 euros.

Climb over hills

Instead, for just 250 euros, they jack up the GLA by a further four centimeters and thus have the largest ground clearance in the entire vehicle class with a good 20 centimeters. This value also increases the so-called slope angle, i.e. the steepness of the slope that you can tackle without the bumper scratching the ground. In this way, Rutz can beat his prototypes over slopes on which you no longer want to walk even in rubber boots.

In addition to all-wheel drive, there is always off-road programming for the electronics: the traction control allows more slip when moving off in the mud, the ESP intervenes a little later, and the hill descent aid brakes the GLA to up to four km / h even on the steepest slopes down. It then feels as if the car is hanging on the winch of a G-model.

And on the monitor above the center console you can see how the car tilts around the longitudinal or transverse axis when Rutz scrambles over the hills with it or creeps through much too narrow narrow passages with it.

The fashion Mercedes does its job so well that test driver Rutz has quietly and clandestinely expanded his test program and built in real cross-country tests every now and then: "We even dared to climb the Schockl near Graz with the GLA," says the expert. Incidentally, Rutz stayed clean there too.

The fact that he was still looking forward to a shower after the test drive was not due to the wrong ways, but rather to the tension. Because normally Mercedes tests completely different calibers here – the Schockl is the local mountain of the legendary G-Class.

The trip to the presentation of the GLA was supported by Daimler. You can find our standards of transparency and journalistic independence at

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