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Warren Brown is a Washington (DC) Post writer who has a way with words and phrases when doing write ups on cars. He writes mainly about the emotional ownership rather getting into weeds about specs etc.

I met him a while back when his staff contacted me about him doing an article on the new (at that time in 1999) trend of folks buying bright colored cars…we had the only yellow SLK east of the Mississippi River. Anyway, he came over driving (testing) a new bright metallic blue Firebird WS6…he walked up to me and introduced himself and blurted out 'if a boy drove up to pick up my daughter for a date, I would tell him 'no sir..with that car I know you have one thing on your mind'

Anyway, he recently wrote about the GLA…enjoy and get a taste of his writing style :D

Most “players,” often young men with attitude and money, eventually yield to the obligations of family. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG 4Matic wagon is ready when they do.

Let me explain:

Automotive marketing largely stems from what savvy salespeople call “intangible quality” - what buyers think they are paying for as opposed to what they are actually buying. Call it the “IQ Factor,” which is especially important in selling vehicles to young men of means, the primary group targeted by the GLA45 AMG 4Matic.

Many such young men are known popularly as “players” - carefree self-determinists enamored with notions of “performance” in all aspects of their lives. Much of their attitude is a mixture of fantasy and hubris, but they are willing to pay a premium to express it and, if at all possible, enhance their ideal self-image.

That is where the GLA45 AMG 4Matic comes in. It is the more expensive - by more than $17,000 in base pricing - high-performance version of the kinder, gentler GLA250 4Matic wagon. Both GLA models, new entries for 2015, are built on a raised platform of the compact Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan. The wagons - dubbed “compact sport-utility vehicles” by Mercedes-Benz’s marketing people - are what happens when players discover that their hot date of yesteryear has turned into the mother of their children.

But players still want to play - with cars, anyway. They enjoy the rip and roar of fast machines. The GLA45 4Matic, equipped with a turbocharged (forced air) 2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine delivering 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, moves them from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz engineers.

I dared not try to replicate that performance in the genteel precincts of my Northern Virginia neighborhood. It was bad enough that the GLA45 4Matic had a twin-outlet exhaust note loud enough to wake the gods.

The wagon had seating for five and enough cargo space, with the rear seats lowered, to handle at least two baby strollers and, absent the need for those carriages, enough room for a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four.

But you won’t find many of those family references in online pitches for the GLA wagons, which also will be made available with front-wheel drive. Instead, you will see a video of a young man, a player if ever there was one, who uses his apparent 4Matic version to zip about town and go joy-riding in the rough. The extra seating and cargo room in his wagon are for “friends” and the stuff they need to join him in the fun.

But market realities are something else. Young families, those headed by players and non-players, need the kind of transportation provided by small wagons, sport-utility and crossover-utility vehicles. That segment is exploding with models such as the Audi Q3, the BMW X1 and X3, the Cadillac SRX, the Infiniti QX50, the Lexus NX, and the revised Nissan Murano. The Mercedes-Benz GLA models are among the latest of a series of fresh offerings in that category.

The object is to serve an expressed market need - for small wagons that fit neatly into city spaces and move easily through urban traffic yet also possess performance chutzpah for occasional off-road motoring and use in inclement weather.

The GLA wagons meet all those needs, with the GLA250 with front-wheel drive offering the best value, starting at $31,300. But you give up swagger with that one. It is a motorized concession that you just need/want something nice for the spouse and children.

The GLA45 AMG 4Matic attempts to give sexual appeal to that face of practicality. In that regard, it works. It is fast. It sticks nicely in curves. It comes with big 19-inch-diameter wheels, muscular side panels and body-hugging Recaro sport seats that belie its true nature as a compact family conveyance. It thus allows players to pretend they still have the right stuff to play long after their game has been canceled by the realities of child-rearing and an ever-growing “honey-do” list. It is va-room! “Yes, ma’am.”

Nuts and bolts

Bottom line: If you are shopping the GLA line, the GLA250 makes more sense, unless you are truly concerned about performance and things such as “player” self-image. If that’s the case, go for the GLA45 AMG 4Matic.

Head-turning quotient: It drew attention everywhere, especially from young men. Typical comment: “Coolest station wagon ever!”

Ride, acceleration, handling: A better bet for a civil, comfortable ride is the GLA250 wagon. With the swagger and measurably more exciting performance of the GLA45 4Matic, you give up something in ride comfort. The ride is hard, even harsh on rough pavement.

Body style/layout: The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA is a compact, front-engine wagon/SUV/crossover built on a raised Mercedes CLA sedan platform. It now is sold as an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Later this year, however, it also will be offered with front-wheel drive. Trim levels are GLA250 and high-performance GLA45 AMG 4Matic.

Engine/transmission: The GLA45 4Matic comes with a special version of the turbocharged, 16-valve 2-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine used in the GLA line. It delivers a maximum 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque and is linked to a quick-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually.

Capacities: Seating is for five people. Maximum cargo capacity is 43.6 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 14.8 gallons. Premium-grade gasoline is recommended.

Mileage: I averaged 28 miles per gallon in highway driving.

Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, automatic brake drying, emergency braking assistance, and a pre-collision safety system.

The Washington Post

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