Driving a new Merc - Weekend

Driving a new Merc

Jerome NeriAtty. Jerome G. Neri
The Scrutineer

MERCEDES-BENZ is back in Cebu with Global Star Motors Corp., which will be opening in the first quarter of 2015 at Veteran’s Drive, Nivel Hills, Lahug in Cebu City. They gave me the opportunity to test the new GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC AMG. I had the car for two days and enjoyed driving it around. Overall, it is a great car for a person who loves to drive. There was a downside to this test. I have two cars that I have always been completely happy with, cars that I love and enjoy driving. After testing this Merc for two days, both of my cars now feel like crap. It is like I am now driving junk, as this is how my cars feel after driving the Merc.

I already have reviewed quite a number of cars and always I do not really comment on the looks of the car, as what is important to me is the performance. Whether a car looks nice or not depends on the person, as it is a matter of taste. I am going to make an exception with this Merc. This car just looks awesome! It is a crossover but it looks like it’s running at the speed of sound while standing still. This is the best-looking car in its class.

As I first rode the Merc, I bumped my head as the roof line is kind of low. To be honest, it is kind of inconvenient to get in this car, and the taller a person is, the more inconvenient it is to get in. However, this inconvenience is a positive feature of the car. A low roofline lowers the center of gravity of the car, which gives it better handling without the need to stiffen the suspension, and so maintains the ride comfort. The benefit of having a low roof was very apparent during my road test and it far outweighs the inconvenience of bending your head a little more when entering the car.

AWESOME CROSSOVER. The “best-looking car” in its class. (CONTRIBUTED FOTO)
AWESOME CROSSOVER. The “best-looking car” in its class. (CONTRIBUTED FOTO)

TRANSCENTRAL TEST. When I review and test a car, I always do it on the Transcentral Highway, as this is the road in Cebu that can bring out the true characteristics of a car. With this Merc, I was still at the Busay area, and I could already tell that this would be a fun test drive and that the car is an awesome car. The engine has loads of torque. Step on the gas pedal, you’re gone, not to mention it’s a diesel! I had zero problems in overtaking those annoying motorcycles and slow running cars. The handling is great. Point and shoot, the car is that agile. The suspension handles the bumps and uneven road surfaces very well, and yet when you attack a corner, there is almost no body roll and it feels like it is on rails.

The automatic DCT transmission of this Merc is unbelievably good. In the past, I have been complementing the modern automatic transmissions on how well, smooth and quick they shift and their uncanny ability to select the correct gear all the time, but never have I seen an automatic transmission fitted on a non-supercar that can shift quicker and better than me on a manual. Well, the transmission of this Merc can – no human being can shift a manual transmission quicker than the automatic DCT transmission of this Merc, Incredible! Mercedes created a crossover that can be driven so aggressively that you feel you are driving a high performance sport sedan, when in fact you are driving a diesel vehicle with a high ground clearance.

INTERIOR of the new Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC.
INTERIOR of the new Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC.

CEBU GRIND. Now that I have established that the new Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC is a crossover that can be driven fast, the next question is how does it perform in the normal Cebu grind? The answer is it performs extremely well. It is the usual Mercedes-Benz, quiet and comfortable. It is also not the usual Mercedes-Benz because it is compact and actually makes it an excellent car for Cebu.

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