Motoring review – Mercedes-Benz GLA

2014-07-01 10:00

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Every girl needs a bit of glamour in her life, so when the sumptuous Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 CDI (R422?700) appeared in my driveway, I had to exercise some restraint.

I wanted to stroke its robust, chiselled behind and caress its athletic curves.

The GLA, built on the A-class platform, is what you’d call a compact crossover: easy to manoeuvre around town, but designed to handle some not-too-strenuous off-roading. Much like the Range Rover Evoque, it’s destined to become a fashion accessory, regardless of what it can or cannot do.

But the GLA is more than a pretty face and in keeping with the spirit of luxurious adventure, we decided to take it on a little (dirt) road trip to a boutique wine farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley just outside of Hermanus.

The GLA’s optional (but free) sport suspension is rather firm and the last stretch of dirt road had been battered by rain, so the ride was bumpy. However, the road was decent enough for the GLA’s front-wheel drive city slicker capabilities.

The GLA’s diesel engine is fizzy enough if you drive it in Sport mode, and there are flappy paddles behind the steering wheel if you prefer manual mode. Eco-Mode is somewhat lazy, but perfect for the school run.

Our GLA was fitted with such an array of optional comfort, styling and safety features that a whopping R100?000 had nearly been added to the price.

The AMG Exclusive package (R15?000) makes for a beautiful leather-clad sporty interior with red stitching and an awesome surround sound system (R7?000). The automatic panoramic sliding sunroof (R11?500) let in a few wintry rays while the heated front seats (available at no extra charge) warmed us from underneath.

Creation Wine Farmhas a fantastic restaurant overlooking picturesque mountains and vineyard-covered hills, and its wines have won numerous awards. Parked next to the lake, the fire-engine red GLA attracted much attention.

No, R422?700 is not cheap. But for that you don’t just get a beautiful, hollowed-out shell – its standard specification level is pretty good. The GLA is supersafe, fuel-efficient and not as small as you’d imagine. The diesel in our GLA seemed to last forever and driving sensibly, I managed to get consumption down from 7.1 litres per 100km to 6 litres.

If you are in need of dexterous driveway candy, the GLA will satisfy you on so many levels.

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