The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class has finally been revealed, and it represents the fourth and final part of the German automaker's subcompact luxury lineup. The completely redesigned crossover is based on the same underpinnings as its siblings, is more spacious than its predecessor, and is launching right out of the gate with a performance variant.
On the outside, the GLA-Class is clearly an evolution of the old car. It has a long nose, swept-back windshield, and a reasonably upright rear hatch, not boxy like the GLB-Class. The surfaces are much softer and cleaner, though, ditching the various creases and swoops of the predecessor. The headlights and grille have more scowl, and the taillights are more slender. The whole GLA looks taller, too, because it is. It's a whole 3.9 inches taller. It's wider by 1.2 inches and has a 1.1-inch longer wheelbase. Overall length is down by 0.6 inch.
This translates to a cabin that's more spacious on the whole. Rear legroom is up by a significant 4.5 inches, and most other dimensions have increased by at least an inch. The only ones that shrank were front legroom and rear headroom, both by less than an inch. The interior design is new, too, but will be familiar to anyone who has spent time in an A-, CLA- or GLB-Class. It has dual screens (7-inchers are standard, with 10.25-inch versions as options) next to each other in a black, glass monolith, big round air vents, and stylish little metallic switches in the center stack. The dash shape is subtly different here, with the screens cradled by the dash rather than free-floating in the other little Mercs.
The standard GLA-Class models are the GLA 250 and GLA 250 4MATIC. The former has front-wheel drive, while the latter has all-wheel drive. Both get the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Power goes to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link rear. With all-wheel drive, the power split can be shifted up to an even 50% front and 50% rear. The split varies on driving conditions and driving mode. In Eco/Comfort, the default is 80:20, Sport is 70:30, and the Off-road Mode is 50:50. The all-wheel-drive model also gets hill descent control.
The GLA 35 is the first performance model in the GLA-Class line, and it will eventually be followed an even more potent GLA 45. The 35 is no slouch, though, as it gets a 302-horsepower version of the turbo 2.0-liter inline-four that also makes 295 pound-feet of torque. The chassis gets reinforcements, the suspension is retuned, and there are sportier driving modes. An electronically adjustable suspension is available as an option. Brakes are upgraded with drilled and ventilated 13.8-inch rotors up front and 13-inch rotors at the back. Front brake calipers are more powerful four-piston units. The GLA 35 also comes with an adjustable exhaust and more aggressive bodywork.
Pricing for these GLA-Class models has not been announced yet. Expect a base price around $35,000 like the outgoing GLA and the new GLB. Mercedes did reveal that the GLA 250 and GLA 250 4MATIC will be available this coming summer, with the GLA 35 coming later in 2020.