Subcompact luxury SUV gets chunkier, more powerful
The redesigned 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class rounds out the brand’s compact car family for the North American market. Larger and roomier than its predecessor, the 2021 GLA-Class promises more headroom and rear seat legroom for added practicality despite the vehicle being shorter in overall length. From a design perspective, the smallest Mercedes-Benz SUV gets a significant makeover, looking more like a smaller version of the GLE-Class instead of a raised hatchback. Despite having a taller greenhouse, the 2021 GLA-Class has a lower drag coefficient at 0.28 versus its predecessor’s 0.30.
Available in front- or all-wheel-drive configurations, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 will come with a 2.0-liter turbo-four with 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. An Off-Road Engineering package will be standard in all-wheel-drive-equipped models and will come with an Off-Road drive mode that distributes power 50:50 between the axles, calibrates the anti-lock brakes for easier off-road driving, and changes the way the engine delivers power. Hill descent control is also added as standard. An updated suspension design, which now features more components made of aluminum, promises improved ride and handling.
Those looking for more power should look to the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, which features the same 2.0-liter turbo-four rated to 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gets unique gearing, faster shifts, and a launch control feature. A performance-oriented all-wheel drive system comes standard, and takes into account everything from driving speed to steering angle for optimal torque distribution. Meanwhile, the stability control system gets a Sport setting for enthusiastic driving. The GLA 35 receives Sport+ and Individual drive modes but misses out on the Off-Road mode that comes standard on the all-wheel-drive GLA 250.
In addition to more power, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 comes standard with the AMG sport suspension tuned for improved handling. Adaptive dampers are optional and add three modes to the suspension settings. For added torsional rigidity, the GLA 35 gets an aluminum plate under the engine and two additional braces on the front underbody. Large four-piston, 13.8-inch front and single-piston 13.0-inch rear brake pads come standard for better stopping performance. A uniquely tuned variable steering system has been tuned for more direct turn-in and can be set to one of two modes. Rounding out the upgrades to the GLA 35 is a multi-mode AMG exhaust system that should sound awesome in its loudest setting.
All 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class models will come standard with forward collision warning and front automatic emergency braking. The Driver Assistance package adds steering assist, lane change assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, rear automatic emergency braking, evasive steering assist, cross-traffic function for the front automatic emergency braking system, and a speed limit assist that can change based on the current speed limit in the area.
Mercedes’ MBUX interface will come standard with two 7.0-inch displays, including one touchscreen on the center stack. You can also opt for two larger 10.25-inch units with built-in navigation and a digital personal assistant à la Google or Siri. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 will get special graphics to distinguish it from the GLA 250 and will come standard with the 10.25-inch screens. An AMG Track Pace feature, which allows you to see lateral and longitudinal acceleration, pedal position, and steering angle on the main touchscreen, will also be included in the GLA 35’s infotainment system. Popular race tracks like the Nürburgring and Spa Francorchamps have also been loaded into the system.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class goes on sale in summer 2020. Expect the GLA 35 to follow afterwards.