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'Fit' for a makeover: 2017 Merc GLA hits SA

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What we would normally call a model update or facelift is now a ‘Fitness Programme’ according to Mercedes Benz, but either way the changes made to the GLA compact SUV are minor to say the least.

The exterior gets an obligatory restyling of front and rear bumpers, which besides giving a slightly sharper appearance have also made for a more aerodynamic shape. 

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The outgoing GLA’s optional bi-xenon headlights make way for new ‘soft’ LED lamps which are less bright white and more daylight in colour. More alloy wheel choices have been added to the range, and there’s a new paint hue called Canyon Beige.

LED technology is now also used in the taillights, which illuminate in three intensities depending on time of day or weather conditions. Also at the back is a new handsfree electronic tailgate, which as in many competitor cars, operates with a swipe of a foot under the rear bumper.

Minor tweaks inside include a fresh instrument cluster with red needles, along with chrome accents on vent rings, centre storage binnacle surrounds and door-mounted seat adjustment switches. 

New upholstery for Style and Urban model lines includes a wider range of Artico man-made leather colours and textures. An updated Exclusive package, which confusingly supplements the still-available previous Exclusive package, includes buffalo skin-textured black leather seats and a choice of trapezium-grain aluminium, light brown satin-finish poplar wood, or high-gloss brown walnut trimmings.

On the tech side, the new GLA gets a 360-degree and bird’s eye camera system, offering a virtual aerial view of the car, and Active Brake Assist can automatically slow things down if it senses an impending collision. Attention Assist, as with most other Mercs, can read a driver’s drowsiness levels and sound a loud chime if it thinks you’re falling asleep at the wheel.

The engine range continues as before, with a 2.1-litre turbodiesel offered in two guises - 100kW GLA 200 d and 130kW 220 d 4Matic all-wheel drive - and three turbopetrol options; this line-up kicks off with the 115kW 1.6-litre GLA 200 and the middle slot is filled by the 155kW GLA 250 4Matic.

As before, the flagship designation goes to a 280kW/475Nm GLA 45 AMG, and here too there are minor adjustments to exterior aesthetics and interior trims. The 45’s front apron sees new intake shapes and the splitter spoiler is now finished in chrome with black side flics. Likewise the twin-blade grille and side sills, also with chrome accents. At the back is a new diffuser section with (you guessed it) chrome trim strips, along with a revised roof spoiler. The GLA 45 also gets a new 20-inch wheel option in a choice of two colours.

The 45 gets similar interior revisions as the rest of the range with an updated instrument cluster, but here the entire dashboard is covered in Artico leatherette and dash inserts can now be specced in black and red (standard) or in black and silver in conjunction with an Exclusive package. The 45’s key fob and gear selector now come with AMG embossed logos.

Mercedes is celebrating the popularity of its 2-litre turbo 45 AMG range with a special Yellow Night Edition – which also extends to the A45 hatch and CLA45 sedan. Here you’ll get a choice of two different black body colours, accented with matt graphite grey and yellow appliqué sections. But wait, there’s more… the yellow highlights are ealso applied to the rims, mirror caps, side skirts, front splitters and rear wings. Even the AMG badges are yellow. Colour is also splattered around the interior with yellow touches on the seats, steering wheel, door panels, floor mats, air outlets, door sills.

Mercedes-Benz GLA prices:

GLA 200 115kW/250NmR485 400
GLA 250 4Matic155kW/350NmR654 700
GLA 200d 100kW/300NmR513 000
GLA 220d 4Matic130kW/350NmR592 500
GLA 45 AMG 4Matic 280kW/475NmR856 700
GLA 45 AMG 4Matic Yellow Night Edition 280kW/475NmR961 700
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