Press Previews: 2015 Chrysler 300 & 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA

Odometer (Legend):  532,734

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Odometer (ILX):  116,158

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Every so often, as a member of the Phoenix Automotive Press Association (“PAPA”), I get an up-close-and-personal look at a new vehicle that’s coming to market, and I like to share those experiences with you.  This week, I attended two media events where automakers invited PAPA affiliates to check out their latest offerings.

First up, on Tuesday, Chrysler hosted a small group of journalists at the Salt River baseball fields in Scottsdale for an introduction to the newly-redesigned 2015 Chrysler 300 just prior to the Colorado Rockies vs. Seattle Mariners spring training game.

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My first look at the refreshed 300 actually took place at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November.  At that time, I put together a short 2-minute introduction video about the 300 in collaboration with Redline Reviews.

Manager of Media Relations Communications, Jiyan Cadiz, took a few minutes to kick off the presentation with an overview of the Chrysler sedan family and the 300’s place within it.  Brand Manager John Zaremba then spoke to some of the key attributes of this bold American sedan.  For 2015, the 300 brings more bang for the buck than ever before.  A redesigned front end with a larger grille exudes the new “face of Chrysler,” and LED foglights and taillights round out the exterior.

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The 300’s starting price point at around $31k puts it right in the midst of a fierce market but Chrysler hopes that luxurious things like standard leather and a rotary shift selector will nudge the car to the top of buyers’ consideration.

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Chrysler has also engineered 4 unique trim levels in an effort to please just about everyone.  The base “Limited” is powered by a 292-horsepower V6 and can be equipped with all-wheel-drive.  Also available are “S,” “C,” and “Platinum” variants.  We got the chance to see a Jazz Blue “C” model.  The color really pops, and the lighter interior with nappa leather sets it off nicely.  A panoramic moonroof is a nice touch on an 88-degree day like the one we were having.

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Chrysler’s 300 is a nice statement of ‘American Attitude” and I look forward to test-driving one soon.

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Here’s a picture of me enjoying the spring training game with automotive spy photographer Brenda Priddy.

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Thanks to Chrysler for allowing us the inside look at its new car!

The second new vehicle I got to experience this week was the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA.  Anna Kleinebreil, Assistant Product Manager for CLA, GLA, and SLK, spoke to our group which was assembled at the Phoenix Art Museum on Wednesday evening.  The all-new GLA is Mercedes’ latest entrant into the very hot SUV marketplace and it’s based on the successful CLA sedan which has been around for a couple of years now.

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At our disposal when I arrived in central Phoenix were a GLA250, a GLA45 AMG, and a C400 sedan.  I had the chance to experience all three.  Mercedes has its sights set on Generation Y with the new GLA.  The company is banking on the fact that 25% of its sales volume will come from its “NGCC” (New Generation Compact Car) lineup of automobiles, of which the GLA is a part.

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Currently available are the GLA250 and the GLA45 AMG, both in “4MATIC” all-wheel-drive.  Soon, Mercedes will also debut a front-wheel-drive GLA250 as well, making it the first time the company has ever offered a front-drive SUV.  The “Mountain Gray” GLA that I drove had a base price of $33,300 but was highly optioned out with Panoramic Sunroof, Bi-Xenon Headlamps, Premium Package, Interior Package, Multimedia Package, Sport Package, and Driver Assistance Package.  $48,605 all-in.  That’s a big chunk of change but if you’re buying a Benz, go all-out!

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Interior accommodations are top notch as would be expected in a vehicle from M-B.  I’m still trying to get used to the display screen since it kind of looks like an iPad Mini glued to the dashboard.

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The GLA250 goes head-to-head with the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3.  I haven’t yet driven either of those, but I did leave with a very good impression of the GLA.  Its 2.0 liter turbo 4 cylinder cranks out 208 horsepower which is enough to give a quick pace.  The transmission is a 7-speed DCT with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

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Behind the wheel, you quickly forget you’re driving a high-profile vehicle since it handles like a sports sedan.  It does take a bit to become acquainted with the controls.  I reached for a shift lever that wasn’t there, only to realize that Mercedes puts its drive selector on a stalk attached to the right side of the steering column.  (Kind of like what my 1986 Chevy Celebrity had, but a little bit more advanced with some push-buttons!).

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Now, here’s the evil twin to the standard GLA250:  the GLA45 AMG.  Black means business.

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Aside from the obvious cosmetic differences from the base model, the 45 packs a punch under the hood as well with 355 horsepower.  Colleagues Beau, Kyle, and I took it for a spin and right away noted how much quicker it was than its sibling.  Special race-inspired seats offer maximum grip from their beefy side bolsters.  The exhaust note is amplified and acceleration is vastly improved.  All in all, it makes for a much more engaging driving experience.  The GLA that we drove had over $5k in other upgrades like a Multimedia package, bringing the as-tested sticker to over $62,000.

The AMG model even has red seat belts.  Sporty!

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Thanks to Mercedes for hosting the PAPA group at this special event!

10 Responses to “Press Previews: 2015 Chrysler 300 & 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA”

  1. My favorite models? The ones pictured in the last photograph, namely you, Beau, and Kyle! Neat cars, and even neater people! Great review here, Tyson. Keep on keepin’ on!

  2. So was there a noticeable difference in ride between the GLA250 and GLA45 AMG? I have heard the ride in the GLA’s tend to be on the harsher side in general. Did you find the ride tolerable?

    • Definitely a firm ride in both vehicles, noticeably more so in the GLA45. Not overly harsh, though. The GLA45 was clearly more sport tuned – I think the exhaust note my get a little old on the highway for long distances. We didn’t really get to drive it long enough to find out.

  3. The red seat belts are clashing with Beau’s shirt. 😛

  4. Very nice, but those are the weirdest looking Acuras I’ve ever seen!

  5. I’ll take the AMG please!!

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