The Mercedes GLA is a small family car that blends chunky SUV styling with a range of economical engines, but alternatives are both more practical and more comfortable
The GLA was launched in 2014 and received a few subtle updates in 2017. These include modified bumpers, more comfortable suspension and Apple and Android smartphone mirroring features.
Unfortunately, the GLA’s rather dated infotainment system remains mostly unchanged. Its graphics aren’t a patch on the X1’s iDrive display and the sea of buttons on the dashboard make it quite confusing to use.
So if technology isn’t the Mercedes’ strong point, what about comfort? Well, the standard man-made leather seats are supportive and come with plenty of adjustment and there’s easily enough room in the front for tall adults to stretch out.
Sadly, things aren’t quite as roomy in the back. The GLA’s small windows can make the back seats feel pretty claustrophobic and if your passengers are over six-feet tall then they’ll struggle for headroom. Things get even more cramped if you try to carry three adults side-by-side.
At least the Mercedes’ boot is a decent size. There’s enough space for a set of golf clubs with the rear seats in place and enough room to carry a bike with them folded away.
The GLA’s off-road-inspired styling makes it the designer hiking boot of the automotive world – it certainly looks the part but you’d rather not get it too muddy
Pick a 1.6-litre GLA 200 petrol model if you spend most time driving around town – it’s smoother, quieter and cheaper to buy than the diesels. Spend more time on the motorway? The more efficient but far noisier 2.1-litre GLA 200d diesel is a better bet. Sadly, Mercedes’ smooth-shifting automatic gearbox is an optional extra on these models but it’s £1,600 well spent.
The GLA earned an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP back in 2013. The tests have been made much stricter since then however, so you might want to consider one of the optional Driver Assistance packs if safety is your number one priority.
Pick your optional extras carefully and the GLA represents a good-value small SUV that’s just big enough for small families. It’s not the most practical SUV on the market but it’s still well worth considering if you rate style over space.