Fittingly, the GLA has made its British debut at the very core of the UK, some 189-metres below ground within the vast Winsford Rock Salt Mine in Cheshire – the site which supplies much of the gritting salt for our roads, providing grip and reassurance to the UK’s drivers.
In a unique project to take the car as far off the beaten track as possible, four standard, road-going examples of the new GLA were lowered, nose first, into the mine before being driven through the broken terrain of a network of more than 130 miles of tunnels running beneath Cheshire in what is very much a working mine.
Winsford, operated by Salt Union, is the UK’s largest rock salt mine and its oldest working mine – the mine stretches 5km east to west and 3km north to south. Mining operations since the 19th Century have left a void space of 23 million cubic metres
Combining the unique suspension setup of the new GLA which aims to strike a balance between on- and off-road demands and the traction afforded by 4MATIC, the car thrived in the challenging conditions within the mine – its traction systems coping with the broken terrain and salt road tunnels with ease. The Intelligent Light System (ILS) fitted to the cars meant the eight-metre high tunnels (most of which are completely dark) were lit up spectacularly.
The GLA was driven in the empty spaces left behind by the mining of salt – spaces now being filled by a thriving DeepStore document storage business. Organisations such as the National Archives now store millions of physical files deep below the ground in a secure and extremely dry environment – the mine naturally remains at a constant 14 degrees – making it ideal for such purposes.
Meanwhile, above ground, the GLA has gone on-sale – with prices starting from £25,080 OTR for the GLA 200 CDI it joins the M-Class, G-Class and GL-Class in a thriving Mercedes-Benz SUV line-up.