2023 Mercedes GLA and GLB gain mild-hybrid and design refresh

1 year, 2 months ago - 19 March 2023, autocar
2023 Mercedes GLA and GLB gain mild-hybrid and design refresh
Revised GLA and GLB receive updated standard kit and new MBUX infotainment system

Mercedes has revealed the updated GLA and GLB SUVs, which will go on sale in the coming months with a refreshed design and new technology inside and out. 

The biggest visual changes to the new Mercedes GLA and Mercedes GLB have been applied to the front end, where the front grille, front bumper design and light signatures are all new. 

The closely related pair of models also gain LED lights as standard, and the wheel arches are now painted the same colour as the car’s exterior, replacing the plastic trim seen on the previous versions. 

Under the bonnet, the two cars receive mild-hybrid power, meaning they will now be available with both plug-in and mild-hybrid electrification for the first time. The line-up for non-AMG-tuned variants consists of four-cylinder petrol and diesel units, ranging from 147bhp to 260bhp. 

New mild-hybrid models will benefit from a 48V battery mated to a belt-driven starter-generator, which provides an additional 10bhp when accelerating. They are also capable of travelling short distances on electric-only power and energy recuperation. 

Changes have also been made to their plug-in hybrid powertrains. Electric-only range has improved from the 37 miles available in the previous version, although Mercedes has not yet disclosed the new figure. The output of the electric motor, meanwhile, has been raised by 5bhp to 78bhp, and the battery is now capable of charging up to speeds of 22kW. 

The GLA and GLB range is once again topped by a performance model tuned by Mercedes-AMG. The Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and GLB 35 pack 301bhp from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Top speed is pegged at 155mph, while 0-62mph is completed in 5.2sec. 

Inside, the cars are equipped with 'comfort' seats, a leather steering wheel, high-beam assist and a reversing camera as standrd. All cars are fitted with the firm’s updated MBUX infotainment system, with interior ambient lighting and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. 

Prices for the standard and AMG models have not been revealed yet, but they are expected to command a slight premium over the existing cars. The standard GLA, for example, is currently priced at £37,645, while the AMG model costs almost double in its highest specification, at £69,005.

The updated GLA has previously been pictured going through its paces at a German race track ahead of its launch wearing a camouflage livery, but much of its chrome trim was clear to see: around the side windows, on the door handles and on the lower rear bumper.

The appearance of the facelifted GLA and GLB follows the emergence of the updated CLA and A-Class, hinting that Mercedes is continuing to push its more affordable models over its more expensive EVs.  

This is despite CEO Ola Källenius’s statement in May that Mercedes is “not going to compete with volume makers” any longer, which also implied the firm is going to ditch discounts.

Given Mercedes’ push back towards the luxury segment – and higher profit margins to mitigate production figures dwindled by industry-wide parts shortages – the updated GLA is expected to be more costly than the current car.

As such, the entry-level Sport trim is expected to be ditched, with AMG Line – which starts from £39,545 – becoming the new entry-level version. Adjusting figures to reflect inflation and increased production costs, the new starting price is likely to be north of £40,000.

This would not drastically change the GLA’s positioning – pitting it against the Audi Q3, BMW X1, well-specced Range Rover Evoques and the Volvo XC40 – but it would make it one of the more expensive premium crossovers available.

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