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Is 2015 Mercedes GLA robust enough for off-road adventures?

The all-new 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA is launching later this year, but will it be tough enough for off-road adventures?

The all-new compact luxury 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA SUV will launch here in the U.S. this fall and Mercedes says it’s fit for off-road adventures. The all-new GLA celebrated its U.S. premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2013, and it looks like it will be a hit with a new generation of buyers. But will it be robust enough to handle the off-road pursuits that a younger buyer with an active lifestyle will use it for?

We won’t really know for sure until it’s thoroughly tested off-road, but Mercedes says it will be a viable off-road SUV. A new generation of buyers will be looking to use the GLA as a commuter during the week and then to the mountains on the weekends. They will want to use it for recreational purposes like transporting mountain bikes, snow boards, kayaks or surfboards. They’ll take it off-road to get the trailhead for extreme sports like back-country skiing, mountain biking and hiking. Will the new GLA be able to handle this?

GLA features optional 4MATIC

Mercedes uses a rigid body structure that provides the architecture for the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 208 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. This should be a good powerplant for GLA and provide enough power to take the compact SUV up the mountain. The 2015 GLA is the first Mercedes-Benz SUV to be available with the new-generation all-wheel drive system 4MATIC, with fully variable torque distribution. This all-wheel-drive system features a fully-variable torque distribution that allows fully variable distribution of the drive torque between front and rear axles.

Mercedes also uses a DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation) and an off-road transmission mode on the 4MATIC. DSR is activated by a control button in the center console, and assists the driver on steeper downhill stretches by maintaining a slow, manually selected vehicle speed within the physical limits when negotiating downhill gradients. This is done with the help of the engine and transmission control systems, and by specific braking intervention.

Recreational buyers will want the off-road package

This will likely help the driver feel confident in “light off-road terrain” situations and where there are loose surfaces. But a bigger issue will be ground clearance. Mercedes will offer three suspensions on GLA: Sport with 6.1 inches of ground clearance, Comfort with 6.7 inches of ground clearance or an Off-Road package offering 8 inches of ground clearance. The latter will be important for those who will use the GLA for recreational purposes.

It’s important to note that GLA will also feature an optional COMAND system, that can switch the head to an off-road display. The steering angle, the selected off-road transmission mode and a compass are displayed there. The roll angle in degrees, the gradient in percent and activation of Downhill Speed Regulation DSR are also indicated.

Mercedes has definitely addressed the needs of active buyers who will use the GLA for recreational purposes. This new compact luxury SUV will be a viable off-road capable SUV as long as buyers order the optional off-road package with the additional ground clearance. GLA250 4MATIC with the optional off-road package will be made available in the U.S. It also adds standard 17-inch wheels fitted with taller all-weather tires. GLA with 4MATIC will be an ideal winter vehicle on the road, but what about its cargo carrying abilities?

Will GLA be able to carry the goods?

One area of concern with the GLA is that it doesn’t appear to have a roof-rack to carry those mountain bikes, kayaks or surfboards. If Mercedes offers an adjustable roof rack system, it will be an ideal multi-use vehicle for a new active buyer for recreational use. Without it, GLA won’t even be able to carry the recreational equipment.

Overall, it looks like the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class equipped with the optional 4MATIC all wheel drive and off-road package will be robust enough for most off-road adventures. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA is ready to launch and will arrive in U.S. showrooms fall of 2014, and available with the new-generation 4MATIC in the U.S. in early 2015.