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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2018

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Mercedes-Benz has long been known more for its luxury and elegance and less for roaring performance. That all changed with the introduction of their AMG division, and the new AMG GLA 45 compact crossover is further proof that Mercedes can crank up the power while still keeping its comfort, functionality and style. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Mercedes makes the hottest hatchback In the past, MercedesBenz was a brand most well-known for luxury and elegance, but less so for performance.

Behind The Wheel David Chao

All that changed, however, when the AMG sub-brand was launched a number of years ago, slowly but surely changing the image of the “pointed star.” AMG performance division is specifically designed to deliver world-class vehicles that may surprise

even the loyal Porsche and BMW fans, because AMG’s high-performance vehicles are some of the best in the industry. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 45 is no exception, a compact crossover with astounding – if somewhat raw – power and handling. It is somewhat unique in the marketplace, offering both neck-snapping performance and practicality at the same time. The

GLA 45 competes with the likes of VW Golf R (which is much cheaper), Audi RS3, and perhaps even the BMW X2. But most competitors do not offer the functionality of a five-door hatch, though some Japanese automakers such as Subaru and Honda do offer them in a lower price range (WRX STI and Type R). For 2019, the engine is improved and it now pumps out 20 more horsepower

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and 18 more foot-pounds of torque.

DESIGN A larger-than-life attitude characterizes the AMG GLA 45 and is present throughout the bold design features. New wheels and bumpers round out the changes made for 2019. The new spoiler lip and airflow vent in the rear help to reduce the drag coefficient and improve aerodynamic

flow. This adventurous design also features an AMG double-crosswing grille and an optional Night Package, which shows off many exterior features rendered in gloss black. As with all MercedesBenz, luxurious amenities and features are found throughout the interior. Power front seats with memory, power liftgate,

See Attention page 61

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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2018

Regulating ride hailing is not a bad idea

On June 22, 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught on fire.

I need not explain to you how unusual and downright inconvenient it is for rivers to go around catching fire, but nevertheless, there it is. A large body of water, a substance not normally known for its inflammability, was riotously ablaze. If the good people of Cleveland were surprised by their fiery river, they shouldn’t have been. Starting in 1868, the Cuyahoga caught on fire a staggering 13 times. You know the old saying: set my river on fire once, shame on you; set my river on fire 13 times, why on earth is a river catching on fire I feel like I’m taking crazy pills over here! Three years later, the U.S. government passed the Clean Water Act of 1972, which was aimed at curbing water pollution. And, you know, not having rivers embarrassingly catch on fire. The Cuyahoga never burned again. The point of all the above is that, while democracy is important, sometimes people aren’t capable of seeing potential problems that are right in front of their

Grinding Gears Brendan McAleer face, and you can’t rely on companies to do the right thing. Sometimes a little government red tape can be necessary, especially if you’d like to have a nice glass of tap water without your face melting off. Which brings us neatly to the subject of ride hailing, something that is foremost in the minds of North Shore residents. Particularly during the damp winter season, when walking and cycling can be wet and unpleasant, the idea of being able to summon an Uber or Lyft to get around is very appealing. Why can’t we have ‘em? Seattle does. Los Angeles too. The public has Opinions about this sort of thing. In fact, when I recently wrote

an article that pointed out Uber’s track record of being the sort of company who would absolutely set fire to a river if it was profitable, I received all sorts of mail suggesting I was somehow in cahoots with the taxi companies. This sort of thing happens all the time. Argue that Tesla’s finances are a little shaky and fans of Elon Musk will suggest you’re taking payoffs from Big Oil. Point out that the Camaro has a bit of a cramped back seat, suddenly you’re in the pocket of Henry Ford. So, at the risk of being accused of swimming in vats of caviar provided by cabbies, let me once again climb up on my rickety old soapbox and suggest that not rushing into things is hardly the problem companies and politicians would have you believe. Ride hailing isn’t problematic in and of itself, but a little regulation of it is no bad thing. Specifically, I’d like to speak to what’s required to be a ride-hailing employee, or “ridesharing partner” as Uber euphemistically calls them in an effort to avoid paying benefits. The current legislation proposed by the NDP requires drivers to have a Class 4 license, which

involves more training than a Class 5, as well as medical and background checks. Additional insurance is also required. You don’t need a commercial driving license to drive for Uber in most other markets, including Toronto. In fact, Toronto ensured ride hailing didn’t get a more favourable status than conventional taxi companies by reducing the level of training required for cabbies as well. A mandatory 17-day safety course was scrapped. That’s dumb. Actually, it’s not just dumb, it’s dangerous. Toronto has quite literally decided to reduce public protections in the name of making getting around easier. Haste has consequences, and in this case those consequences came home in the tragic death of a 28-yearold Toronto man earlier this year. In March, Nick Cameron and his girlfriend summoned an Uber to take them to the airport. The driver was unfamiliar with the route, and was using GPS to navigate. The phone fell off the dashboard, and he pulled over on the narrow highway shoulder to retrieve

See Drivers page 62

Many people are upset that you still can’t use Uber and Lyft in British Columbia, but columnist Brendan McAleer argues it’s not a bad thing that the province is trying to make sure the services are set up safely for passengers. PHOTO LISA KING

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Attention Assist warns you if you need a nap From page 59

12-color LED ambient lighting and Harman Kardon surround sound are just a few of these features. The performance seats are highly contoured and snug, and have red topstitching to complement the bright red seatbelts. However, the deep-bucket shape and firm feel can make your morning commute a little less than comfortable. There is an optional performance steering wheel with aluminum shift paddles to follow the sporty theme. Innovative technology in the GLA 45 helps the driver feel entertained, engaged, and, most of all, connected. This includes the “Mercedes me” app that offers Remote Start, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and in-car internet. Data can also be transmitted to the dealer about service needs, remote diagnostics, software updates and accident recovery. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also fully integrated into the infotainment system. The Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 45 is fairly roomy with a total capacity of 1,235 litres, although this capacity is overshadowed by the larger

Audi RS3 sedan or BMW X2 SUV. One interesting standard feature is Attention Assist, which is a function that continuously monitors driving behaviour (up to 70 different facets), and will alert the driver on screen and with audible warnings to take a rest if needed. The GLA also comes with eight airbags (including driver’s knee), blind-spot sensors, lane-departure warning, collision mitigation, and lane-keep assist. PERFORMANCE The AMG GLA 45 revs from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in just 4.4 seconds, 2.2 seconds faster than the tamer GLA 250. The GLA 45 comes equipped with AWD and this seems to be biased towards the front tires. However, power is distributed to the rear tires as required. The handcrafted 2.0-litre turbo I4 engine for the GLA 45 was given a makeover this year with a new camshaft, new engine management as well as 26.1 psi of boost which provides an impressive 375 h.p. and 350 foot-pounds of torque. Paired with this powerful engine is a speedshift DCT seven-speed dual-clutch

Red accents highlight an interior that is filled with luxurious amenities. Power front seats with memory, power liftgate, 12-color LED ambient lighting and Harman Kardon surround sound are just a few of these features in the GLA 45. PHOTO SUPPLIED automatic transmission. An ECO Start/Stop system is similar to many other vehicles and is automatically engaged to save fuel and reduce emissions. Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and

Race are driving modes that are tailored for every driving situation. The GLA 45 hugs the pavement thanks to turbo-fed traction, precision handling and a chassis with well-developed springs,

The baby Benz accelerates like there is no tomorrow and the exhaust sound is a music to your ears (if you are a sports car fan), but the

dampers and stabilizers. On the other hand, some may feel that the stiff suspension and overly aggressive shift program make the GLA 45 a bit difficult to drive smoothly.

See Mercedes page 62

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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2018

Mercedes adds luxury to the hot hatchback race From page 61

car can be quite bumpy over rough roads and the transmission shifting could come across abrupt under hard acceleration. If you don’t mind buying a non-luxury brand, the VW Golf R and Honda Civic Type R present interesting alternatives. They don’t compete directly per se, but the performance levels are comparable and they are cheaper and far easier to drive as day-to-day vehicles. Fuel consumption for the GLA 45 for highway/city is 8.3 litres/100 km and 10.7 l/100 km respectively, and CO2 emissions combined are 193 g/km.

SUMMARY The 2019 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 45 starts from $53,100 and this means that it’s definitely at the top of the price range. There are numerous add-on packages available, which means you can customize your ride and truly make the GLA 45 your own. Can the GLA 45 distinguish itself well enough from the more economical hot hatchbacks with similar performance abilities? I think so, because with the AMG GLA 45, you will not need to choose between performance and luxury. You can have both. editor@automotivepress.com

A larger-than-life attitude characterizes the AMG GLA 45 and is present throughout the bold design features. PHOTOS SUPPLIED

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Drivers who carry passengers should have extra training From page 60

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it. When he pulled into traffic, he somehow didn’t see a BMW approaching at highway speeds. Cameron, seated on the rear right of the car, suffered a broken neck and brain damage. He never woke up. Do you trust every taxi cab you get into? I don’t. We’ve all had a ride where the driver went too fast, or took chances that seemed risky. However, at least there’s some level of training there, and certainly we shouldn’t be pushing for there to be less of it. Yes, a Class 4 license represents a barrier to signing up for Uber, but not a major one. One local driving school charges $499 for a comprehensive course, which seems reasonable.

A bigger barrier to ride hailing, perhaps, is how insurance will work. Here at least, I agree with the ridehailing companies. The ICBC monopoly on insurance isn’t just problematic for the likes of Uber and Lyft, the lack of competition isn’t great for the rest of us. But let’s leave that particular can of worms aside for a moment, and focus on the drivers themselves. There are only two ways in which it is acceptable for ride-hailing drivers to work without a commercial license. The first would be the creation of a specific ridesharing endorsement to your driver’s license. If you want to tow something over 4,600 kilograms gross vehicle weight, you need a bit more training and testing. Perhaps additional classroom and practical training combined with some testing would ensure an acceptable minimum level of skill for ridesharing drivers. The second is to refocus the question, “Why should

ridesharing drivers require more training than the rest of us?” It’s a fair question, especially when framed as, “Do the current commercial licensing requirements of ride-sharing legislation point out that the average driver is undertrained?” The answer is, of course, a resounding yes. For now, requiring a commercial license is at least a good initial protection for the public. We could certainly use more ways to get around, especially during these dark, damp days. However, let’s not set fire to the Capilano in our hurry to get there.

Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and automotive enthusiast. If you have a suggestion for a column, or would be interested in having your car club featured, please contact him at mcaleeronwheels@gmail. com. Follow Brendan on Twitter: @brendan_ mcaleer.


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