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June 12, 2018

Review: 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 180 Urban

Among traditionalists, the most common entry-point to Mercedes-Benz ownership is the C-Class. Yet, for the younger and more fashion-forward buyers, the three-pointed star has begun offering a more breadth line-up with everything from front-wheel drive hatchbacks to SUVs to MPVs. Naturally, these “new generation” vehicles are now the entry-point to many buyers. Included in this new generation line is the GLA-Class, the brand’s smallest and most affordable crossover. As such, adding the badge’s allure with a “bang for the buck” body style literally prints money for Mercedes-Benz.

For context, “affordable” here doesn’t mean they’re giving it away; rather it means spending P 2,790,000. It’s still quite expensive but considering that the cheapest GLC-Class is P 1,200,000 more, that’s a huge amount of savings. Of course, comparing the GLA-Class to the GLC-Class is apples and oranges, but the key, when placed on a table at the coffee shop or bar is the same, and that’s important to a lot of buyers.

The same argument could be said when the GLA-Class is compared with the likes of the Mazda CX-3 or the Subaru XV. It’s the same way an Oppo phone can do things just as well as an iPhone X, but there’s a reason why so many selfies are joined by a shiny Apple logo in the shot: brand is important.

And despite being the most junior “lifestyle” Mercedes-Benz, this little SUV certainly has the looks that befit the premium brand. For 2018, Mercedes-Benz concentrated on giving it a stronger SUV appearance, perhaps to remove any lingering notion that this is simple an A-Class on stilts (it actually is). It gets beefier bumpers, black wheel cladding, and dimpled side sills. Overall, the jury is still out on whether it’s a proper chunky crossover or a tarted up hatchback, but whatever you think of it, it actually looks nice. Honestly, if you didn’t see the GLA 180 badge at the back, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this variant and its pricier siblings.

Inside, the cabin is familiar to any other Mercedes-Benz compact car—the A, B, and CLA-Glass. In a way, the design looks like its caught in between two generations, holding onto older components while adopting some modern, fluid ones seen in something like the E-Class. It’s ergonomically sound and easy to get used to, although it does feel aged in some areas.

The biggest culprit is the COMAND infotainment system. On the surface, it features a small rotary dial by the cupholders which should enable the driver to access all the menus. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case since proper usage requires the use of the said rotary dial as well as the dash-mounted knob. The dash knob is used to do things like change the volume or to turn the system on and off.

The column-mounted gear shifter, situated where the wiper stalk would normally be, takes some getting used to, especially if you’re accustomed to driving any other car. However, once you’re comfortable with it, the movements become second nature.

The adoption of a column shifter has benefited the GLA-Class in the form of generously wide front seats. Only the driver has the luxury of power adjustment with memory, but both are firm and supportive even after long periods behind the wheel. It even has extendable thigh support for longer limbed individuals.

In terms of packaging, the GLA-Class isn’t roomy. For drivers, the cabin can feel quite cramped in terms of headroom. That said, shoulder room is great. The back though is strictly a two-person proposition. The rear bench should accommodate three, but the shapely left-and-right seats and a very narrow middle spot rule out all but the smallest of passengers. Overall luggage space is down slightly versus its similarly-priced rivals—the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, but at 421 liters with the rear seats up (1,325 liters with them down), it’s still pretty big. It must be noted that to get all that space, the GLA-Class makes do without a spare tire, inflator, or even a jack. It’s simply fitted with a set of run-flat Dunlop tires highlighting perhaps that GLA-Class buyers aren’t expected to be the hands-dirty tire-changing type.

Powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the GLA 180 makes 122 horsepower and 200 Nm of torque. If that doesn’t sound like a lot, it isn’t. With peak torque arriving between 1,250 to 4,000 rpm, it does offer good response off the line, but because all the horses don’t charge in until 5,000 rpm, there’s considerable lag. If lots of long distance drives is on your radar, the GLA 180 isn’t your best bet. Nonetheless, given that the GLA-Class will be used mostly to tootle around town, it’s fine.

There’s a dashboard button marked “Dynamic Select” that allows drivers to switch things to Sport (or even Eco mode if you want number responses), but it does little in terms of outright performance because the numbers just aren’t there to give the GLA 180 any real sense of oomph. It’s best to leave things in Comfort and take a relaxed approach to driving.

And like this, the GLA 180 handles life with assurance. The electric power steering is light and nimble, and the extra ride height makes it more adept at dealing with ruts and humps than any hatchback. Despite the suspension’s extra travel though, the ride isn’t cloud-like. It’s definitely firm, crashy even on sharp cracks and potholes.

At city speeds, the 7-speed dual clutch automatic moves into the highest gear to relax the engine as much as possible. Pair that with an automatic start-stop system, and the GLA 180 comes out reasonably economical—7.57 km/L at 15 km/h, but not really a standout.

Being a Mercedes-Benz, safety isn’t overlooked and, along with 9 airbags, the GLA 180 receives Active Brake Assist, Attention Assist (to detect drowsy driving), and front and rear parking sensors (no camera).

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 180 represents a good entry point to the brand. It’s a funky crossover-hatchback sort of car with all the power, features, and capability to fulfill that role, but with little else added so as to keep the costs down. Ultimately, its designed to tackle the urban confines rather than high-speed driving on the Autobahn, but at least it’s built with the same level of engineering detail as more expensive models in the MB line-up but, most importantly, it comes with the exact same key.

2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 180 Urban
Ownership 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA 180 Urban
Year Introduced 2014 (Refresh: 2017)
Vehicle Classification Sub-compact Premium Crossover
The Basics
Body Type 5-door Crossover
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.6
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I4
BHP @ rpm 122 @ 5,000
Nm @ rpm 200 @ 1,250-4,000
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 95~
Transmission 7 DCT
Cruise Control Yes
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 7.57 @ 15 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,417
Width (mm) 1,804
Height (mm) 1,494
Wheelbase (mm) 2,699
Curb Weight (kg) 1,360
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Drum
Tires Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT DSST 235/50 R 18 V (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 9
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front and Rear
Other Safety Features Active Brake Assist
Attention Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Rear
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers No
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment Electric, with Memory (Driver)
Seating Surface ARTICO man-made leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
On-Board Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes
Climate Control Manual
Audio System Stereo
# of Speakers 6
Steering Controls Yes


  1. Is the 1M stilts worth it over the A180 Urban (P1.79M)? Can't deny that this one looks better and doesn't look as entry level compared to the A180. But aesthetics aside they are just the same with engine performance, interior, seating and cargo capacity, maybe also with the way it drives? A180 is hatchback while this one is a crossover but it doesn't differ much.

    1. Actually the A 180 is no more. There is still the B 180 though.

  2. Mazda is more premium.

  3. "Man made leather" what a joke, lol.

    1. Yari sa balat ng tao?

    2. Is there a nature-made leather?

    3. They placed man made there as to hide the shame of fake/artificial leather.

    4. But isn't using artificial leather much more morally acceptable these days now that more and more people are becoming aware of animal cruelty?

    5. Animal cruelty? I'm sure you ate animal meat this week. We can't eat vegetables and fruits all the time. So what do you do to the skin of several thousands of cows killed everyday? Throw them away?

    6. Meat is a necessity. Some cows are killed UNNECESSARILY and deliberately for their skin to be used as leather.

    7. What about the chemicals like chlorine lead and others to make into synthetic leather that you end up inhaling everyday?

    8. Authentic leather from cows still feels better.

    9. ^
      That's precisely the question you have to ask yourself. Is it justifiable to kill animals for their skin so my seat feels slightly better?

    10. See how animals are treated so you can feel better with your authentic leather.

    11. No, the "authentic" leather you get in cars is going to be covered in Polyurethane; it feels exactly the same as "man made" leather to the touch.

      There is no chlorine lead in modern faux leather; they use urethane now not vinyl since most people can't tell the difference between urethane and coated split leather.

      Even if it were true aniline leather, you're better off with the breathability and softness of cloth.

  4. Why cant M Benz post their price here Uly? Luxury yes, but they shouldn't think they're as exclusive as Bentley or RR.

    1. It's annoying that they do that.

    2. Check our price guide. It indicates the latest (May) pricing of all new Mercedes-Benz models ;-)

    3. Hmm at the current P 2,790,000, I think most people looking for a premium badge are better off with the 7 seater BMW 218i Gran Tourer or pay the extra P 200,000 and upgrade to the Lexus NX 300, which is larger at about the same size as a GLC.

    4. Get Mazda if you want premium.

    5. Yeah, the CX-9 is probably a way the better deal around that price point since at over five meters long it's larger than the RX L or Q7 and almost as large as a GLS. Assuming of course you're not that brand conscious.

  5. Will the trunk fit a golf bag?

  6. Interior is butt ugly. Better off add a few hundred thousands then buy a proper C Class sedan or a 3 series.


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