So you have the keys to a 2016 Mercedes Benz GLA 180, have only a few hours, and you’re in the heart of Tokyo – what do you do?
Simple – You grab your good friend and videographer Cory Sparks (@Visual_kimono), light panels, and you drive almost 2 hours away from the congested streets of to see what this lil ‘SUV’ can do in the snowy countryside near Lake Miyagase. Thanks to the Tokyo’s infamous traffic and only having a few hours with the GLA 180, this review will be quite short!
I normally spend most of my time in older, less technological equipped cars (hell, Yamamoto San’s Mira Gino had virtually nothing) so it took a few minutes to get accustom to the GLA 180. The shiftier is located on the steering column and with the flick of your finger can put the transmission in park, drive, and reverse. The COMAND infotainment system knob fits nicely in your hand, but like the rest of the car, had a decent learning curve to get the hang of. The menu for the most part is easy to figure out although if you are trying to pair your device to the system via Bluetooth, you have to register your phone first in the phone menu before you can connected it with Bluetooth. Why can’t you just connect it via Bluetooth I’ll never know but there you go. From time to time, I would accidentally flick on the radar cruise control which caught me off guard when it started to perfectly keep it’s distance away from the taxi in front of me. Now that I think about it, this feature would be perfect for the busy street of Tokyo.
The I pad like screen doesn’t motor away and looks almost as if it was an afterthought if I’m honest. Not being a touch screen also meant you had to play with the knob more than you really wanted too. The screen resolution was quiet nice which made using the backup rear camera at night very handy. The Dynamic Mode was also rather interesting. With three basic modes (Sports, Comfort, Eco) and a customization mode, you could change the characteristics of throttle response, steering feel, and gearing. For example – in Eco mode, the steering felt heavy, throttle response was slow, and the car would change gears quicker to get to the 7th gear the fastest for maximum fuel efficiency. In contrast, Sports mode (the mode I left it on for obvious reasons) sharpen the steering feel, quicken the throttle response, and would let you rev the little 1.6L 4 cylinder turbocharged engine out and experience the ferocity of 120 hps and around 148 ft lbs of torque – once you get past the lag.. Ok, yes this isn’t a sports car and shouldn’t be driven as one (which again.. Sports mode and shift paddles??) but good god if you are in the wrong gear and you try to overtake someone on the freeway… well, I found myself downshifting two to three gears and I’ll leave it at that. Leave it in Comfort or Eco driving modes and the GLA is an excellent car to ride around in. Incredibly efficient as well! (again, as long as you keep it out of sports mode and treat it like a sports car).
In the snow and ice, the car handled great although I didn’t dare push my luck on how much snow the GLA could handle. However, for what I believe most people would use this car for, which if I had to guess would be more of an urban warrior, it’s perfect. Tons of cargo space to haul all of our equipment, decent fuel economy, comfortable ride, nice interior, and all for 33,000USD base. Not a bad way to go ^__^
Hopefully, next time I can spend a lot more time so I could make a ‘proper’ review!