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Mercedes-Benz GLA review - not just a ramped up A-class

evo staff
29 Jul 2016
Verdict:

Merc's GLA is a mildly SUV-like take on the A-class.

Evo Rating: 
Price: 
£25,260
For 
Comfortable, spacious, well-made, looks interesting
Against 
Limited manual options, none-too generous specification
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The relentless appetite for SUV’s these days has left few manufacturers without a crossover offering in the model range. Mercedes-Benz, alongside their German counterparts, are the experts when it comes to diversity, so it shouldn’t be such a great surprise that they created an A-Class based SUV called the GLA. 

Depending on how you specify your Mercedes-Benz GLA, it can look an awful lot like the A-class it shares its platform and engines with. Nonetheless, even if you don't need extra ground clearance or 4Matic four-wheel drive, the GLA makes a case for itself as a worthwhile alternative thanks to greater interior and boot space and a chassis that dials up the comfort setting a tad. Unless of course you go for the madcap GLA 45 AMG. Ludicrously fast as that undoubtedly is, no version of the GLA is particularly engaging, and the four-wheel drive system is more for security than fun. Still, it's a better car than the A-class. 

We're naturally biased towards petrol power, but if your budget doesn't stretch to the bonkers GLA 45 AMG then we'd suggest sticking with the diesel-fuelled 220 d model instead. It's a far more satisfying car to drive than the GLA 250 4Matic, despite the latter's more impressive performance stats. In normal everyday driving the diesel engine is easier to gel with and smoother too. Shame it's a bit heavier though. 

> Performance and 0-60 time - No models in the GLA range are particularly sluggish, with all managing a sub 10 second 0-60 time. It's only really the ultra powerful GLA 45 AMG that truly impresses though. Read all about the GLA's performance here

> Engine and gearbox - You've got a choice of six powertrains with the GLA and either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven speed dual-clutch auto. A wide range of diesel and petrol motors are available at various levels of performance. Read all about the GLA's engine and gearbox here

> Ride and handling - Ignoring the GLA 45 AMG, the standard GLA is softer than a normal A-Class or the CLA, but does feel more grown up and comfortable. Read about the GLA's ride and handling here

> MPG and running costs - Front wheel drive cars are the most efficient in the range, 4Matic cars rise above the 120g/km threshold for emissions. Mercedes offers service packages for the GLA to keep running costs down. Read all about the GLA's running costs here

> Interior and tech - Extra interior space over the CLA and A-class puts the GLA ahead of the competition in the range for functionality. It has a bigger boot too. Read all about the GLA's interior and tech here

> Design - The GLA barely looks like an SUV at all and while the styling might not be to everyone's taste, it's definitely one of the smarter looking premium SUVs. Read about the GLA's design here

Prices, Specs and Rivals

The GLA's most obvious rivals are the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, though there are countless compact SUVs from the mainstream manufacturers that could also be considered.

The Q3 is probably one of the more complete options at the moment, while the X1 has seemed slightly less appealing since its platform changed from one based on the previous-generation 3-series (a rear-wheel drive car) to one based on the current 2-series Active Tourer (a front-driver). Never the prettiest of cars in the first place it no longer has particularly appealing proportions to save it (the Mercedes is definitely the more appealing prospect aesthetically), though it still drives well.

A new entrant into this market - in fact, the two new entrants, as either could be considered rivals - are Infiniti's Q30 and QX30. The former is theoretically more of a rival for the regular A-class but does feature a more crossover-like stance with raised suspension, and drives much as that implies. The QX30 is nearly identical but leans even further towards crossoverdom, with a slightly chunkier appearance. Both are very similar to their equivalent Mercedes models (they're based on the same platform) to drive, but the Infinitis major on ride comfort and have a different feel to the cabin.

>Click here for our take on Infiniti's Q30

Prices for the Mercedes start at £25,260 for the GLA 200 SE (petrol) with a manual gearbox. That comes such niceties as 17in alloy wheels, 'comfort' suspension, Artico artificial leather upholstery and a reversing camera, among other things. Sport is next up (from £26,255), with larger 18in alloy wheels, Dynamic Select with Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual driving modes and a sports steering wheel.

Above this is AMG Line (£27,550 with that same 200 petrol engine), which adds a further inch to the diameter of each wheel and gets an AMG body styling package, sports seats and a smattering of aluminium trim. Diesels start from £26,735 in SE trim, automatic transmissions add £1500 to the price of a given model, and the cheapest way to get all-wheel drive is the GLA 200 d 4Matic Sport, at £30,730. The full-fat AMGs start at £45,555.

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