Mercedes GLA Review

The Mercedes GLA is a stylish small SUV with a posh interior and plenty of high-tech features. It’s not as practical nor as fun to drive as other premium SUVs, though.

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7/10
wowscore
This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Brilliant infotainment system
  • Stylish interior
  • Spacious in the back

What's not so good

  • Boot is small compared with alternatives
  • Basic models don't come with smartphone mirroring
  • Lots of fake exterior bits

Mercedes GLA: what would you like to read next?

Overall verdict

The Mercedes GLA is the smallest SUV in Merc’s range and is essentially an A-Class that’s a bit bigger, a bit more practical and gives you a better view out thanks to its higher driving position. It’s an alternative to the likes of the BMW X1 and Audi Q3.

When the first Mercedes GLA came out, jacked-up hatchbacks with a dash of off-road styling were viewed as a flash in the pan – a bit like fidget spinners or the Atkins diet. Turns out, these cars are here to stay.

But the latest Mercedes GLA commits more to the suburban SUV theme than before, so it’s 10cm taller than the old car and you can get it with massive 20-inch alloy wheels. Its gaping front grille is bigger than ever and the new LED headlights look super classy.

There are various vents and air diffusers on the car to give it a more sporty and off-road-ey vibe, but they’re fake and don’t do anything other than affect the car’s looks.

The Mercedes GLA’s interior has a very modern feel and the standout features are the twin infotainment displays like the ones you get in the Mercedes A-Class hatchback. It’s a shame though that the screens in entry-level Sport models are quite small and miss out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The system uses Mercedes’ latest MBUX software and it’s the best in the business. You can control it by using the touchscreen, a touchpad or by voice controls and you can even get an augmented reality sat-nav which overlays the directions on a live video feed from a camera above the car’s windscreen. Just the thing to help you navigate confusing roundabouts.

The digital experience is rounded off by the driver’s display screens behind the steering wheel instead of traditional analogue dials.

Overall, the interior quality is high, with nice materials on the dashboard and the doors. There are some scratchy, hard plastics a bit further down, however. It’s roomy too, with good seat- and steering-wheel adjustment for the driver, and passengers in the back will have a fair amount of space to get comfy.

The Mercedes GLA is a stylish, posh SUV, with the best infotainment system there is. But an Audi is more practical and a BMW more fun.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

Where you won’t have plenty of space is in the boot. The GLA’s boot is smaller than the ones you get in a BMW X1 or Audi Q3. At least it does come with an electric tailgate as standard.

Currently there are two turbocharged petrol engines and two turbodiesels to choose from. The diesels can come with four-wheel drive, but every GLA gets an automatic gearbox. The gearshift is a lever on the steering wheel column, not on the centre console as in most other cars, which makes it easier to use mid-way through a tricky U-turn.

Around town the steering feels light enough to make manoeuvres straightforward and easy to dart in and out of traffic, while the suspension easily irons out bumps and potholes well.

On the motorway it’s quiet and relaxing but if you are after fun and excitement on a twisty road then there are other small SUVs that tick that particular box, such as the BMW X2.

Overall, the Mercedes GLA is a good, posh-feeling SUV, if not quite as well-rounded as equivalents from Audi or BMW. Still, if this is the car for you, check out the latest Mercedes GLA deals.

How practical is it?

There’s good space for back-seat passengers and decent storage space around the cabin, but the boot isn’t the biggest.

Boot (seats up)
485 - 495 litres
Boot (seats down)
1,420 - 1,430 litres

There’s good space for those in the front and you adjust the seats using controls on the door, rather than down on the side of the seat base, as you get in many cars.

Passengers in the back get a really good amount of space, too. Kneeroom is good, as is headroom – even if you get a GLA with a sunroof (which can eat into headroom).

There’s a bit of a hump on the floor below the middle seat, but it’s not too bad and three people in the back shouldn’t be too uncomfortable, especially for short journeys.

The Mercedes GLA has pretty decent in-car storage space. There’s a roomy space under the centre console and in front of that, there are a pair of cupholders and some more storage. You’ll also find and a USB C slot and a 12-volt socket.

The glovebox isn’t huge but it does come with an extra shelf. Meanwhile, front door bins are big enough to take a couple of water bottles each. There are large door bins in the back doors too.

Back-seat passengers also get a couple of USBs and pull down the centre armrest to access two more cupholders.

There are two Isofix anchor points on the outside seats and fitting a rear-facing child seat is easy as you shouldn’t have to move the front seat forward to fit it.

The boot isn’t exactly the biggest you can get in a small SUV. The Mercedes GLA boot space is 435 litres, but a BMW X1’s boot capacity is 505 litres and an Audi Q3’s is 530 litres.

Still, an electric tailgate comes as standard and you get some nets and tethers and a 12-volt socket which means it’s practical, if a bit down on size. You can also raise the boot floor up that makes for a bit of extra room underneath to store some thin-ish valuables.

It’s a good square shape, and there’s no lip so you can slide things in and out quite easily. The rear seats split three ways, which means you can fold down the centre seat and carry longer items, while the two outside seats remain upright.

When you fold all three rear seats down, it’s not completely flat when the boot floor is in its highest position.

What's it like to drive?

The Mercedes GLA is easy and comfortable to drive. You get an automatic gearbox as standard but if you’re looking for excitement a BMW X2 is more fun to drive.

The GLA does ease and comfort very well. It's quiet and economical, too. But if you're after thrills you're probably better trying a BMW X2.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

Currently there are two turbocharged petrol engines and two turbodiesels to choose from.

The entry-level petrol car has a 1.3-litre turbo, which you might think would be a bit weedy for an SUV, but it has 163hp and 250Nm of torque. It is called the GLA 200.

Then there’s the GLA 250, which is a 2.0-litre turbo with 224hp and 350Nm.

If you do lots of miles you’ll probably be better off with one of the diesels.

The GLA 200d has a 150hp 2.0-litre turbodiesel with 320Nm. The GLA 220d also has a 2.0-litre turbodiesel but comes with 190hp and 400Nm of torque.

The diesels can come with four-wheel drive, but every GLA gets an automatic gearbox.

Around town the steering feels light enough to make manoeuvres straightforward and easy to dart in and out of traffic, while the suspension easily irons out bumps and potholes well. Being an SUV, you get to sit up nice and high for a good view out.

The turning circle is OK, which means in most situations you should be able to execute a U-turn without having to resort to three-point turns.

On the motorway it’s quiet and relaxing but if you are after fun and excitement on a twisty road then there are other small SUVs that tick that particular box, such as the BMW X2.

What's it like inside?

The Mercedes GLA has a modern, premium interior, but you can spot some scratchy plastics lower down.

Next Read full interior review
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