► First drive of facelifted GLA
► New bumpers, LEDs, trim
► Otherwise, as you were
Facelifts don’t get much milder than this. The Mercedes GLA-class is the latest compact Mercedes-Benz model to receive a mid-life update, but you’d have to sit new and old cars side-by-side (and squint a little) to notice much of a difference.
Here’s a helping hand: from the outside, front and rear bumpers have been reshaped and the eagle-eyed among you will spot LED headlights in place of the bi-xenon ones on the pre-facelift model.
Meanwhile there are some new seat covers and chrome trims in the cabin, and there’s an all-new exterior colour, as pictured. It’s called Canyon Beige; you can draw your own conclusions there as to the marketing department’s line of thinking.
Canyon? Does the Mercedes-Benz GLA work off-road, then?
It works in the same way that any other small hatchback of this size would. Notice we didn’t say SUV – the GLA isn’t anything more than a slightly higher, bodycladded A-Class.
It’s hardly a rival to ‘proper’ off-road-ready machines such as the Range Rover Evoque, which among its many go-anywhere attributes has shorter overhangs – something the GLA really misses at the front.
We had a chance to test it on an off-road course, but frankly came away thinking we could have done the same thing in a boggo Ford Focus. A few times we were told we’d have to crawl along to prevent that new front bumper bulldozing muddy dust in a cacophony of acoustic parking sensors. Best switch them off beforehand next time.
Our car did have Merc’s 4Matic all-wheel drive system, but we’re not entirely sure it was required in this test.
The adjustable hill decent system does work admirably, however, keeping the car under control at a driver-set speed on steep declines.
Cars in the UK now get what Mercedes calls ‘off-road comfort’ suspension, which means 30mm more ground clearance, so you’ll be able to navigate slightly taller grass than mere A-Classes can, with a touch more axle articulation on offer to boot.
So what’s the GLA 220 d like on the road?
It’s… fine. The ride is still slightly firmer than we’d like, albeit with more suspension travel than before, which means it struggles to settle down and the end result is permanently turbulent.
The engine in this car is the old stalwart 2.1-litre diesel, which is undeniably feeling its age now. It’s rattly and unrefined, albeit able to sip fuel at a relatively parsimonious rate.
What else is new?
One thing that does work well in is the new 360-degree parking camera, which is a £335 option. Developed by Nissan, this is useful for parking and soft-roading along with any other low-speed situation where you need to see the car’s extremities and immediate surroundings. It’s hardly an industry first, though, admittedly.
The GLA hasn’t always been the easiest car to recommend, and alas post-update it remains so. Paradoxically, it’s a popular car over here in the United Kingdom – and will probably remain so. Go figure, as they say.