Mercedes-Benz GLA driving

Mercedes-Benz GLA review

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is a compact SUV that’s lower and sleeker than many rivals. It’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

  • Older models have more basic infotainment systems
  • Latest version less cost-effective than some rivals
  • Some rivals have bigger boots

Summary

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

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is a compact five-door SUV that looks like a conventional hatchback but has a higher ride height and slightly tougher look. The latest version (pictured) was launched in 2020. It has a sleeker look than the previous model, sold new from 2014 to 2020, as well as additional high-tech features and a more practical interior.

Both versions have a premium feel and offer enough space for families with young children, as well as a wide range of engines (including a plug-in hybrid for the latest model) and a wealth of high-tech features.

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. Whether you’re looking at an older model or the latest version, it feels like a premium product. Both models have the kind of luxurious materials you expect and a high-tech infotainment display. Newer models have an upgraded touchscreen system, which is better than the earlier rotary-dial technology.

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, though alternatives such as the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3 have slightly larger boots.

The newest GLA models, from late-2020 onwards, are the most spacious, with extra legroom and headroom, plus back seats that can slide forwards or backwards to provide either more room for passengers or or extra room in the boot.

What's it like to drive?

“Lot 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, although the older car has small back windows that restrict your view a little. 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”

The latest GLAs offer a range of petrol and diesel engines that give 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. Older models are slightly less efficient but running costs are comparable with most premium hatchback cars. 

The latest GLA is also available as a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. This model uses an electric motor to help boost the car’s efficiency, and it can even run on electric power alone for as long as 37 miles.

There are also high-performance versions available – the GLA 35 and the GLA 45 S – but these are more expensive to buy and will cost more to run. So unless you specifically want a high-performance GLA, other models in the range could be more suitable for you.

How reliable and safe is it?

“The GLA has a great reputation as a safe vehicle and should prove reasonably reliable.”

As with any modern Mercedes, you should expect a GLA to provide a reasonably reliable, trouble-free ownership experience.

In terms of safety, the GLA offers an impressively long list of safety features as standard. The previous model scored a maximum five stars when tested by the safety organisation Euro NCAP. The new version hasn’t been tested yet.

Which one is best for you?

Best for emissions - GLA 250e

Best for family - GLA 200

Best for fun - GLA 35

On the newest cars, the Sport trim is the entry-level model. This gets loads of equipment as standard, like dual-zone climate control and heated 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 versions give the GLA a sportier look and feel, inside and out.

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