It's mid-life refresh time for Merc's compact SUV – which means mild hybrid status for the 306hp version
By John Howell / Thursday, 16 March 2023 / Loading comments
There’s big news from Mercedes. Upgrades, upgrades, upgrades, the like of which have never been seen on this scale. That’s not true, actually. The press release, which focuses mainly on the GLA but also includes details of changes to the GLB, reads like pretty much like every press release of a facelift since the dawn of the motorcar: new front and rear bumper design, revised grille, different headlights, new wheel options and colours, increased standard spec etc. From what we can tell, the styling changes are subtle, but the vertical vanes on the grille of all models give the range a greater AMG look.
As an example of how obfuscating these press releases can be, here’s an excerpt: ‘The free-standing double screen is one of the highlights of the significantly upgraded interior. It now includes a 7-inch and a 10.25-inch display as standard for the instrument cluster and multimedia screen respectively. Two 10.25-inch wide-screen displays are optionally available. They offer a holistic high-tech experience and enhance the open-plan architecture.’
Now, we’ve checked the previous brochure and, to the best of my knowledge, that’s exactly the same setup as before. That said, we’ve never sat in the previous version and noticed ourselves having a ‘holistic high-tech experience,’ so maybe that’s new. The 2023 versions are available with a heated steering wheel, though – that’s definitely new. And who doesn’t want one of those? There’s also some talk about what percentage of the seat covers are recyclable, which is anything between 65 and 100 per cent, if you’re interested.
Here’s another quote for you: ‘Mercedes-Benz has significantly upgraded the standard equipment of the GLA and tailored the offer logic even more precisely to specific customer wishes.’ We’re afraid we don’t know what an ‘offer logic’ is, so we can’t say whether that’s a good thing or not, and it hasn’t named the specific customer whose wishes have, apparently, been fulfilled. It goes on to say, ‘Further functional equipment is bundled into packages based on real customer behaviour,’ which can only be a good thing, we are sure.
We did notice that the cars now feature the latest generation of MBUX that includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, instead of the wired variety, and Mercedes has removed the trackpad on the centre console. The only way to operate the infotainment screen now is as a touchscreen or using the pads on the steering wheel. There are new features, such as an audio ‘Tourguide’. When you say ‘Hey Mercedes, start Tourguide’ the car will tell you interesting facts about places along the route. At the risk of completely overexciting you all, you can also pull over and play games like Sudoku or do a quiz. Fun for all the family.
If that doesn’t blow you away, then this might: the GLB35 and GLA35 now come with mild-hybrid assistance. Hope you were sitting down for that one. Both cars get the same 306hp 2.0-litre turbo engine as before, only now with a little help from a belt-driven starter generator and a 48-volt electric motor. That provides a 14hp bump under load, plus the usual mild-hybrid benefits of coasting on EV power and smoother start/stop functionality. Non-AMG petrol models get mild-hybrid treatment, too, and there’s a 7hp increase for the 250e PHEV’s electric motor. Ripper.
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