Mercedes-Benz GLA driving

Mercedes-Benz GLA review (2020-2023)

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is a compact SUV that’s good to drive, well equipped and has a classy interior.

Pros

  • Plug-in hybrid version available
  • Excellent interior quality
  • Wide choice of engines

Cons

  • Some rivals have bigger boots
  • Top-spec versions can be pricey
  • Not as enjoyable to drive as some mid-size SUVs

Summary

“A well-built premium SUV with good looks and a high-quality feel.”

By Cazoo editorial team

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is a mid-size five-door SUV that's a rival for cars such as the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. We're focusing on the latest (second-generation) model, which was launched in 2020. It's larger and has a sleeker look than the previous model – sold new from 2014 to 2020 – and has additional high-tech features and a much more practical interior.

The GLA costs more than some rival mid-size SUVs but every version is well-equipped and has a premium feel. There's a wide range of engines to choose from, a plug-in hybrid model, and the choice of automatic and four-wheel drive models.

What's the interior like?

“High-quality interior has a smart infotainment system and enough space for most families.”

Classy, beautifully finished interiors are often a Mercedes strong point and the GLA SUV is no exception. The interior has a definite feelgood factor, with similar design and materials to those found in Mercedes' more expensive models. The infotainment system feels high-tech yet is generally easy to use.

There’s decent space in the front and back seats, as well as a boot large enough for four medium suitcases. The interior is big enough for families with younger children and their accompanying kit, although alternatives such as the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3 have slightly larger boots. There's slightly less boot space again in the plug-in hybrid model, although the shortfall is less than you get with the plug-in hybrid version of some similar cars.

What's it like to drive?

“Lots of engine choices and a smooth, comfortable drive.”

The GLA feels much like one of Mercedes-Benz’s larger models from behind the wheel – comfortable, smooth and solid. Its compact size and high driving position make town driving and manoeuvring easy and the view out is pretty good all-round. Parking sensors are standard, however, and some models have reversing cameras.


There’s a wide range of petrol and diesel engines to choose from, and while some versions have a manual gearbox most come with an automatic gearbox. The most powerful models have four-wheel drive, while the latest GLA is available as a plug-in hybrid. The high-performance Mercedes-AMG GLA models are very quick and great fun to drive.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“Most versions are reasonably fuel-efficient, especially if you opt for front-wheel drive”

You get a wide choice of petrol and diesel engines with the GLA, with official average fuel economy of between 37 and 52mpg depending on the model you choose. Versions with four-wheel drive will use a little more fuel than models with front-wheel drive, but either way, a GLA should prove reasonably cost-efficient to run.

The petrol-electric plug-in hybrid model – called 250e – can run for almost 50 miles on electric power alone, according to official figures, so it could prove a cost-effective option if you can keep the battery topped up.

There are high-performance versions called the GLA 35 and the GLA 45 S which are fast and fun but will cost you a lot more to buy and run.

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Which one is best for you?

Sport is the entry-level trim for the GLA but it gives you lots of desirable features as standard, including dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. But if you want the swisher-looking,  larger infotainment screen, you will need to step up to the Sport Executive models.

AMG Line and AMG Line Premium trim versions give the GLA a sportier look and feel, inside and out.