Mercedes Names Pointless Crossover In Honour of Lighthouse Preservation

Mercedes-Benz General Lighthouse Authority 220 Course Deviation Indicator 4MATIC, to give it its full name
Compact crossovers. Fuck 'em. They're heavier, thirstier, worse for the environment, more expensive to buy, more expensive to run, less aerodynamic, less pleasant in terms of ride quality, less fun to drive, no safer and barely any more practical than the hatchback they're invariably based on. Their supposed off-road credibility is the same as you saying you can scale mountains because you've got boots on instead of shoes, except that even they don't have boots on, because they've got big wheels with road tyres on and suspension tuned for asphalt, not Everest. Yet, for some reason, sheeple are buying them in such droves that companies who have no business making such things are making at least one of these fat bearded hatchbacks on stilts. I blame the Nissan Qashqai for this, which the ever-dry What Car? praises for its "funky 4x4 styling". Curse you, Qashqai! Because of you we now have this!

It's the Mercedes-Benz GLA. This is the silver-starred brand's answer to the BMW X1. And Audi Q3. And Mazda CX-5. And VW Tiguan. And the Volvo XC60. And Mitsubishi Outlander (which is only sold by accident). And the Ford Kuga. And the Nissan Qashqai. And the Nissan Juke. And the Land Rover Range Rover Évoque N°5 For Him/For Her. And the Renault Captur. And the Vauxhall Mokka. And the Subaru XV. And the Suzuki SX4. And the upcoming Porsche Macan Mover.

And the Infiniti EX.

And the Škoda Yeti.

And the Peugeot 2008.

And the Dacia Duster. Kinda sorta.

And the Nissan Murano.

And the Mercedes-Benz GLK. Erm...

But what does GLA stand for? I thought it was the name of a bird in Australia that you cooked on rocks, but it's actually named after the General Lighthouse Authority. For those of you that don't know - and it's good of Mercedes to raise awareness of this - the General Lighthouse Authority is a nation's government agency dedicated to the good work of preserving and maintaining lighthouses, lightvessels, navigational aids or anything else that does the job of alerting sailors that there's land over here, so watch out. If you're a sea-faring gentleman (or lady, of course), then you owe your life to these organisations every time you run the risk of boat-raping somebody's unassuming land mass in the dark of night and spilling your shipment of short shorts all over the beach. Or a cliff. If you think I'm joking, click here. As another nod to navitgational aids, the diesel versions are badged as CDI, after an aeroplane's Course Deviation Indicator. The Germans are genius marketeers - show them a saloon with curves on it and they'll sell it as a "four-door coupé" for more money, as one example - but to capture an entire niche with just three letters is just inspired. Straight away anyone who's part of the GLA will want a GLA, and grateful sailors the world over can buy one as a nod to their good work. On top of that, pilots will want the diesel versions, which could even help diesel power finally break into America. Marvellous. Their tribute to the General Lighthouse Authority is symbolised in the headlights - of course - which feature "tri-functional fibre-optics", giving the car a "characteristic light signature". Apparently.

Of course, there's a chance that GLA actually stands for Geländewagen Licht... A. The A doesn't seem to mean anything in Mercedes-speak, not even in the A-Class's name, so let's assume they're telling us it's a light off-roader based on the A-Class. Except that it's not really an off-roader, so if you see one, pick off the G and see if anyone subsequently asks the owner about their trip to Los Angeles. Oh, and according to some unreliable source that could easily be bullshit, CDI might stand for Commonrail Direct Injection. But probably not.

The Mercedes LA is a full 125mm longer than the A-Class, as well as 24mm wider and 61mm taller. I bet you really notice that it's a whole twelve and a half centimetres longer when you're sitting in it, even though most of that added length will be in the chunkier bumpers. The A-Class based compact crossover is essentially to the GLK what the CLS is to the E-Class, I think. Swoopier and a weeny bit more compact. It uses an all-wheel-drive system that prefers to be front-wheel-drive unless conditions suggest to the many computers that four driven wheels would be better. Of course, if you live somewhere where it never ever snows and want extra fuel economy, you can buy a 2-wheel-drive version. Or an A-Class...

A range of four-cylinder engines is available to sheeple, and most pundits reckon there will eventually be an A45-based 335bhp AMG version, named after Alpha Male Gorillas. Until such time, the engine range is as follows:

"200" - 1.6 turbo, 156bhp
"250" - 2.0 turbo, 211bhp, 0-60 in 6.5 seconds with "4MATIC" all-wheel-drive
"200 CDI" - 2.2 turbo diesel, 136bhp, 300Nm
"220 CDI" - 2.2 turbo diesel, 170bhp, 350Nm

Previously the numbers on the back gave a strong clue to the engine's size (or rather displacement), but everyone's downsizing now, so because Germans don't like numbers that are smaller, they've become meaningless in that respect and are now used more as a hierarchy, so a bigger number means your one is better. These engines can be had with a 6-speed manual gearbox for approximately seven or eight buyers, or with a 7-speed DCT, known as a 7G-DCT. I'll leave you to come up with your own daft meaning to that acronym.

If the standard look aren't chunky enough, and you just love Alpha Male Gorillas, you can specify the AMG trim that makes the bumpers bigger and gives you different wheels and interior bits, like so:

Mercedes-Benz General Lighthouse Authority 250 Alpha Male Gorillas Line 4MATIC.
Don't be fooled - that's not dirt, it's just a beige road. Those aren't real heat vents on the bumper, either......
As you can see, just like the Nissan QashQow, the GLA features some funky 4x4 styling, which I think is what the sheeple are into, along with a marginally higher ground clearance so they can pretend to be more important than hatchbacks. But anyway, the styling. While much of it may look derivative of the A-Class, Mercedes assures us that this design conveys "sensual clarity as an expression of modern luxury." I have to say, being a design myself, that this is immediately what came to my mind. Clarity so arousing to the senses has never before been so accurately summed up by creased metal and a big, hard, glistening grille, while the fake vents and blingy wheels are blatant symbols of modern luxury. What's more, two sensual yet muscular "Powerdomes" structure the bonnet as "sporty features", and the "twin-louvre grille" accentuates the vehicle's girth. Ooh, baby. An "impressive front aspect" is ensured by those clever headlights and LEDs with their tri-functional fibre optics, as they give the vehicle its aforementioned "characteristic light signature." I'm not even going to BEGIN on the "variable interior concept" which Mercedes says will "guarantee plenty of recreational enjoyment", by which they most likely mean the seats fold into a double bed. This isn't just a car, it's a sensually clear, hand-rubbed M&B compact crossover car. It even comes with its own motto: "Away From the Daily Routine". Words to live by, if you live in La La Land with the designers...

Also, the rear indicators and reverse lights look like part of the chrome bar, which is kinda cool except for the outline of the wine gums they call brake lights interrupting the silver sliver and spoiling the effect. Porsche did it better on the Boxster/Cayman. In fairness to Mercedes, all this swoopy surfacing and whatnot means a drag coefficient of just 0.29, which isn't bad at all for something tall and blocky and helps claw back some of the lost MPG to the lower A-Class. Plus you can drive over sand, big stones, even tall grass thanks to that extra smidgen of ride height. Not that you will. You'll just drive over speed bumps and cheap driveway gravel in it.

So there you have it. Another generic, faux-rugged tall hatch that looks like they put an early model in a wind tunnel, threw a bucket of Styling into the air stream (in the same way shampoo companies pour vials of Science into their products to make you think they actually work) and just smoothed off what resulted. But hey, THIS one's a Mercedes-Benz! That's got to count for something, right? Right? I mean, someone on your street might have a proper SUV that makes yours look pathetic, but you can turn round and tell them that you're the proud owner of a Mercedes-Benz General Lighthouse Authority 250 Course Deviation Indicator Alpha Male Gorillas Line 4MATIC, which is surely the Greatest Name of All Time, right? If only...

Compact crossovers. Fuck 'em.

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  1. "Compact crossovers. Fuck 'em. They're heavier, thirstier, worse for the environment, more expensive to buy, more expensive to run, less aerodynamic, less pleasant in terms of ride quality, less fun to drive, no safer and barely any more practical than the hatchback they're invariably based on."

    FINALLY! Someone in this world who shares my exact view of these pieces of garbage!


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