£25,260 - £47,450 Price range
38 - 67 MPG
The Mercedes GLA is a small SUV that is based on the Mercedes A-Class, but is more comfortable and spacious inside. It is a highly contested market sector so the GLA faces accomplished rivals in the face of the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and the Range Rover Evoque.
The GLA interior has a truly premium feel inside. The combination of silver and gloss piano black trims make the cabin the most luxurious in class. Everything is made from the highest grade materials and appears fresh. The GLA appears more like a jacked-up hatchback than a proper SUV.
Being based on the A-Class which is a sweet to drive car means the GLA is also very capable and confident on twisty B roads. The increased ride height along with the chunkier tyres make the GLA much more comfortable than the A-Class, but the drawback is more body roll.
There aren’t a lot of engines to choose from, but each has a purpose. Pick the GLA200 d for the most miles per gallon, the GLA220 d for a bit more performance or go the petrol route and get the GLA250 that is arguably the best all-rounder.
The GLA costs more than an A-Class but for that you get good levels of standard kit – artificial leather seats, DAB digital radio and emergency city braking are standard on all models.
A facelifted 2017 model has already been spotted undergoing testing. See this new prototype Mercedes GLA in our dedicated price, specs and release date article.
Cheapest to buy: GLA200 d SE diesel
Cheapest to run: GLA200d Sport diesel
Fastest model: GLA250 AMG Line petrol
Most popular: GLA250 AMG Line petrol
If you’ve sat in an A-Class, CLA-Class or B-Class Mercedes, you’ll already be familiar with the new GLA. It has the same sporting dashboard design with three central vents and a protruding display screen you’ll either love or hate. It’s all well screwed together too and the materials are good so long as you don’t go poking about too low down.
Mercedes GLA passenger space
Interior space is better than in the A and CLA models and two adults can just about sit in the back of the car. The standard artificial leather seats are large and comfortable for long journeys while the optional sports seats hold you in all the right places without being too restrictive. That said, it doesn’t feel so roomy, with a relatively low roofline and the small windows can make passengers feel claustrophobic.
Mercedes GLA boot space
Being based on the A-Class means the GLA is quite practical – there’s 481 litres of load space, or 1235 litres if you fold the seats flat on the floor. That is quite a bit more than in the Audi Q3’s 470 litres but less than in the Range Rover Evoque or Mazda CX-5 that have 575 and 503 respectively.
In effect the GLA drives exactly like you’d expect it to drive if it were an A-Class with 50mm more ride height and softer suspension. Ride quality is significantly improved by comparison, though that’s not really tricky. It’s far easier to live with around town and on the open road.
Handling has taken a light knock as a result, but it’s still far more car-like than it is a crossover and it’s pretty enjoyable to punt down a road with purpose knowing you don’t have to avoid particularly thick painted lines. AMG suspension brings you 15mm closer to the road again and makes for a better driving experience with not too much of the old harsh ride brought back.
In the engine line-up there are four choices – two diesels, and two petrols.
Mercedes GLA diesel engines
The range begins with a 2.1-litre diesel under the GLA 200 d name and it is the only engine that can be had with a manual gearbox – all others get a smooth-shifting seven-speed dual-clutch automatic as standard. It is the least powerful and not surprisingly (thanks to the option to have two wheel drive the most frugal being able to return a fuel economy of over 67mpg. However it’s not very refined and it’s clatter dents the premium feel of the GLA.
The 2.1-litre diesel in the GLA 220 d is the same as in the 200 d but comes with a bit more power and in our eyes it’s the best engine for the GLA. It sprints from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds while still managing to return 56mpg.
Mercedes GLA petrol engines
If we exclude the bonkers GLA45 AMG there is only one petrol on offer for the GLA and it’s not a bad one by any mean. It produces 211hp from it’s 2.0-litre capacity with the help of a turbocharger and feels very lively and characterful. A performance hatchback baiting 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds should be enough to sway you if you are struggling to choose between petrol and diesel. To further back it’s appeal the petrol engine is decently economical on fuel as well – 43.5mpg are not bad for the performance on offer.
Topping off the range is a 365hp petrol lunatic version of the 2.0 petrol dubbed the GLA45 AMG. Four-wheel-drive means it will leap to 62mph in less than five seconds and push on to a limited 155mph if you’re brave enough. Unsurprisingly, this version is expensive to buy and fuel.
Both manual and automatic gearboxes are available, but economy is unaffected whichever you choose - 62.8 mpg combined. You'll get to 60 in around ten seconds, though judging by A-Class reviews it may not feel that quick on the road, and the unit is known to make a little noise under hard acceleration, too.
It displaces 2.2 litres, and produces 170 horsepower. While critics have noted a little bit of noise in other vehicles using this engine, performance is respectably strong - 8.3 seconds to 60 in the GLA, through a standard 7-speed auto and 4Matic all-wheel drive. Combined economy sits at 55.4 mpg.
Under the bonnet you get a two-litre, four-cylinder petrol unit with 211 horsepower. There's healthy torque too, and with the aid of a seven-speed dual-clutch auto and 4Matic all-wheel-drive, there's enough shove for a 7.1-second 0-60 sprint and a 143 mph top speed.
Combined fuel economy is 42.8 mpg. In the A-Class it's praised as a smooth, punchy engine, though there are some concerns over the slightly sluggish nature of the 7-speed auto. You'll get better economy from the diesels, too.
With the drivetrain from the A 45 and CLA 45 AMG models, the GLA develops a maximum 360 horsepower from its 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, with 450 Nm of torque. Mercedes claims a 4.8-second 0-60 sprint and 155 mph-limited top speed.
GLA 45 AMG models come standard with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive - though you can expect this to be for performance purposes, rather than off-roading...
The GLA was tested this year by Euro NCAP and flew through with five stars. It scored one of the highest scores ever seen for adult occupant safety and the child occupant safety was not far behind.
Listing the safety aids alone would require an entire page, but suffice to say that the standard suite of required assists like stability control, seatbelt reminders and speed limiters are joined by collision mitigation systems and a driver attention alert system that monitors steering input for drowsiness.
Mercedes GLA SE
The basic model is far from basic if you look at the standard kit – artificial leather seats, DAB digital radio with Bluetooth phone connection and a range of safety assists such as emergency city. However, we suspect most buyers would go for any of the more expensive trims as they make the GLA much more desirable.
Mercedes GLA Sport
The Sport line is the more restrained of the two and comes with subtle upgrades that are hard to spot but in their entirety make it more luxurious and a tad more sporty. You get privacy glass, chrome grille, side skirts and exhaust pipes, climate control plus aluminium roof rails.
Mercedes GLA AMG Line
The most expensive trim level inevitably makes for the most desirable GLA – AMG body kit with more aggressive front and rear bumpers, perforated disks branded “Mercedes-Benz” and 18-inch AMG alloy wheels are what you get on the outside. Inside there are plenty of AMG badges to remind you of your overspending and those fantastic sports seats are standard.
The GLA nets scores roughly on a par with the A-Class on which it’s based and that’s not much of a surprise. It retains the majority of the A’s good looks while improving the ride at very little handling offset.