Today I had the pleasure of driving a 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4Matic, and I must say – it isn’t the prettiest Mercedes to look at. It is somewhat bulky and resembles a crossover. Luckily for those in search of comfort and power, it handles like a sports sedan. When you step inside, immediately you’ll feel taken aback by the beautiful dashboard and luxurious surrounding panels that can only truly be captured by Mercedes itself. Upon glancing upwards, however, one cannot help but notice the cheap looking headliner and courtesy mirror lights gaudily infused with said headliner tucked above the visor. The seats offer cradle and support like a sports car would, but surprisingly, lack comfort compared to Mercedes-Benz's GLK class. The seats are fully adjustable leather (as one would expect from Mercedes). There are an array of buttons and dials to turn and play with when you want to fiddle with the car whether it be pulling up the GPS or changing the station on the radio.
The main problem I found myself facing was trying to get it into "Sport" mode or any other driving mode for that matter. It certainly isn’t the most “user friendly” luxury vehicle on the market. With all the buttons already installed in the Mercedes, it would not have hurt to throw a couple more on the dash to indicate simpler ways of giving the driver exactly what they wanted (in terms of drive style). Another thing that is bothersome (though not as much as the previous issue) is the paddle-shifters. Even without using them often during the test-drive, their tacky presence was made known every time I wanted to turn the wheel because my hand would get whacked with what felt like children’s plastic building blocks. And when I did occasionally (and regrettably) use the paddle-shifters, they felt like shoddy Lego pieces – quickly slapped together and unable to hold up to fast and demanding clicks to change gears.
Driving the GLA 250 was, to sum it up in one word – fantastic. The steering was as sharp and precise as a hunter's blade and the handling differed depending on what driving mode was selected. In "Comfort" mode, it went over bumps like a Panzer tank over a grassy hill. Put it in "Sport" mode and it is like that same Panzer going through a brick wall – everything little bump and stone gets felt. Take it through the bends and it glides without any fuss. In fact, it feels as though the suspension drops and adjusts on the wheels to maintain its traction and stability. Body roll is almost non-existent when coming out of corners, which is wonderful as well. Oh, and no worries, you can indeed still get the tires to chirp and squeal a bit upon thrashing the throttle a little too hard. Speaking of the throttle, how can a car with a 2-liter inline four (boasting only 208 horsepower) have so much punch after pressing the gas? Well, the turbocharger is the only plausible answer here because the boost gets up to speed so fast, it is noticed right away while one’s foot is planted. The GLA 250 is comfortable to drive and I grew used to it very quickly. The feedback from the front wheels felt like each of my hands were the wheels themselves – I was in sync with the roads. This car had another surprise in store for me when a car suddenly pulled out in front of me (IE. Completely cut me off with no warning) – it can stop on a dime in mere seconds – talk about a safety feature every car should have.
Personally, the Mercedes GLA 250, even with all of its fancy gadgets, equipment, driving modes (and awesome brakes) is not worth the money. The going price for this luxury vehicle is around $30,000 at my work place and I would rather give up the high-end “brand name” of Mercedes – Benz, for an actual sports car that will deliver more power, comfort, and of course, fun.