The BMW X2 is an odd car, objectively. It looks odd, it competes in a segment that doesn’t make much sense and it drives far better than a car of its size and shape should. There’s no much about the X2 that makes any practical sense. Yet, its segment of cars just won’t quite, as yet another competitor for the X2 has just been unveiled — the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class.
Admittedly, the first-gen GLA hit the market far before the X2. However, that first-gen car was more of a large-ish hatchback, rather than a small crossover. The BMW X2 is the latter and now the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is as well.
In terms of styling, Suttgart’s oddball is far more normal looking than Munich’s. The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is actually a handsome little thing, borrowing heavily from Mercedes’ new design language. It also looks more like a crossover than the BMW X2, which looks like a hatchback that’s been stung by bees.
The new GLA is also bigger than its predecessor, adding more usable interior space. It’s almost four inches taller than before, almost an inch shorter in length and offers more headroom up front and more rear legroom. So it’s a more comfortable, livable car than before.
Inside, the new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class continues the brand’s interior design language. So the GLA is very similar to the A-Class inside, just with a bit more front interior space and a different center console. It still gets the same three circular air vents up front and all-new Mercedes-Benz infotainment system/digital gauge cluster. It looks very nice and far more stylish and interesting than the rather stark, bland interior of the X2. We’ll wait to judge fit and finish until we can actually put our butts in the GLA but the X2 does have some surprisingly good build quality to contend with.
Powering the new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class will be the brand’s typical suite of small four-cylinder engines. In America, there will only be two models available; the GLA250 and the AMG GLA35.
The former will pack a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Connected to that engine is an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, which makes quick work of shifts. Front-wheel drive is standard but there’s an optional 4Matic all-wheel drive system, which uses an all-new multi-plate, electro-mechanical clutch to engage the rear differential and axles. It’s supposed to be more durable, more reliable and more responsive than ever before.
4Matic-equipped GLA-Class models also come with what Mercedes-Benz calls its “Off-Road Engineering Package” but it’s essentially just an off-road mode. In that mode, the brain of the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class uses all of its kit to handle slippery surfaces and semi-difficult terrain. That’s about it, though.
There’s also the aforementioned Mercedes-AMG GLA35, which will take one the BMW X2 M35i directly. It’s cute they have the same numeric value, too. The AMG model gets an upgraded 2.0 liter turbocharged four-pot, making 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, and the same eight-speed dual-clutch ‘box. 4Matic all-wheel drive is standard on the AMG model and it even comes with a new drive mode — Slippery, for icy or wet surfaces. According to Mercedes, 0-60 mph happens in five seconds flat.
The AMG obviously also gets more capable suspension, bigger brakes and stickier tires than the standard Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class. Just as the X2 M35i is a bit sportier and more capable than the standard X2.
This new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class seems to be far better than the car it replaces, which was honestly not great. Now the new car looks much better, has a great new interior and should drive significantly better. We’re interesting to see how it stacks up with the BMW X2, which is frumpy looking but great to drive.