Mercedes GLA Review & Prices
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
Find out more about the Mercedes GLA
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.
When the GLA first appeared in showrooms entry-level Sport models missed out on Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Now Sport Executive is the starting point for the range, so both are standard. All cars now come with the twin 10.3-inch displays for the infotainment.
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
In the regular range there’s one turbocharged petrol engine, two turbodiesels and a plug-in hybrid to choose from. The more powerful diesel comes with four-wheel drive, while every GLA gets an automatic gearbox, including the two high-performance Mercedes-AMG models with their powerful petrol engines. 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.
There’s also the electric EQA model that sits alongside the regular petrol and diesel Mercedes GLA we have reviewed separately.
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, or see the latest used Mercedes-Benz in our dedicated used Mercedes section.
The Mercedes GLA has a RRP range of £37,625 to £71,150. Prices start at £37,625 if paying cash. The price of a used Mercedes GLA on carwow starts at £23,990.
Our most popular versions of the Mercedes GLA are:
|Model version||carwow price from|
|GLA 200 Exclusive Launch Edition 5dr Auto||£46,825||Compare offers|
|GLA 250e AMG Line Executive 5dr Auto||£45,210||Compare offers|
|GLA 250e AMG Line Premium Plus 5dr Auto||£50,180||Compare offers|
If you don’t mind an SUV with an ordinary badge, you can buy bigger and roomier cars for the same money. But we’re guessing that if you are reading this then a posh badge is high on your wish list.
To keep the price as low as possible, consider the entry-level petrol. It’s not quick, but with 163hp it’s certainly not underpowered either. It undercuts the most affordable diesel by more than £1000, so it will be many miles before you make that premium back in fuel savings.
Comfort comes first, so you’ll have more fun on a twisty road in a BMW X2
There are two suspension set ups available to GLA buyers, and the way Mercedes describes them is very telling. Instead of ‘comfort’ and ‘sport’ there’s ‘comfort’ and ‘lowered comfort’. It’s pretty clear where Merc’s priorities lie.
That’s a good thing around town. The GLA smothers bumps that would be felt with a thump in the BMW X2.
You sit up high in the GLA, a whopping 14cm higher than in a Mercedes A-Class hatchback. That gives a good view out, which is especially helpful with so many hazards to look out for around town.
All GLA models come with an automatic gearbox, so stop-start traffic won’t have your left leg aching. The GLA 200 petrol has seven forward gears, the rest of the range has eight. If we’re being picky (and that’s our job), the gearbox is occasionally a little jerky at very low speeds, but mostly it’s smooth and responds reasonably quickly.
The column-mounted gearshift is easy to use and means you can quickly swap from drive to reverse when manoeuvring. A reasonably tight turning circle is also a definite plus if you find yourself making a three-point turn.
On the motorway
Merc’s engineers were on form when setting up the GLA’s suspension. It works just as well at speed as it does around town. The GLA is smooth, controlled, and comfortable on the motorway.
The GLA is quiet as well as comfy. There’s little wind and road noise at speed, and not much more than a murmur from under the bonnet, whichever engine you choose.
Although it’s the weakest engine in the range, the 163hp petrol isn’t out of its depth on the motorway. If that’s where your GLA will spend most of its time, though, we’d go for either the 150hp GLA 200d or the 190hp GLA 220d. These diesels have lots of mid-range muscle in reserve for overtaking, as well as being more economical than the petrol.
The two Mercedes-AMG models have power to burn, so you’ll have a lot more fun if you turn off the motorway. Talking of which…
On a twisty road
Without a doubt, the Mercedes-AMG cars are the ones to drive if you want to enjoy yourself on a favourite B-road. The 306hp GLA 35 and the 421hp GLA 45 are both really rapid, although not quite as rewarding as a lower-slung hot hatch. And are also pretty expensive.
The rest of the range is above such silly antics. Sure, there’s decent grip and for an SUV the GLA doesn’t lean too much in the bends. But it isn’t really up for fun and games on a twisty road. If you want an agile premium SUV you’ll probably prefer the BMW X2.
On the other hand, if you’re happy with a car that doesn’t roll around like a dinghy in a hurricane at the first sign of a tight corner, the GLA fits the bill.
Comfortable to travel in, but the boot is quite small
There’s plenty of space in the front of the GLA. Even really tall drivers should be able to get comfortable.
If you’re shorter in stature, you’ll definitely appreciate the high seating position that gives a good view out and is really supportive under your legs. You sit a lot higher than you do in a Mercedes A-Class, even with the seat on its lowest setting, and you can jack it right up if you want to. Manual adjustment is standard on most models, while Premium Plus Night Edition has electric adjustment. Changes are made using seat-shaped buttons on the door, which is a quick and easy way to make small tweaks.
Something you don’t see on all cars is an extendable seat cushion. Well, you get one in the GLA. You can pull out part of the base by 60mm for better under-thigh support.
There’s a good range of adjustment to the steering wheel as well as the seat, so finding a sound position is easy. You should be comfortable for mile after mile.
Storage is taken care of by really large door bins that can easily swallow a couple of bottles of water. The glovebox is a more modest size, but still big enough to be useful.
As you’d expect, there are two cupholders at the base of the centre console.
Space in the back seats
Headroom is good, even in cars with a full-length sunroof, which can eat into space. Only a very tall rear-seat passenger will complain that you should have bought a car with a regular roof.
There’s enough legroom for adults to get comfortable, and because the front seats are so high even on their lowest setting there’s plenty of room for those in the back to stretch their legs out in front of them.
Isofix mounting points for child seats are fitted to the outer seats. They’re not covered, which makes for easy seat fitting. With so much legroom you shouldn’t need to slide the front seats forward, even when fitting a bulky rear-facing seat.
Boot space is not the GLA’s strong point. There’s significantly less capacity than you’ll find in an Audi Q3 for example, which has up to 530 litres. The BMW X2 is also more spacious, with a 470-litre boot.
Choose one of the internal combustion-engined models, and there are 435 litres for your bags. That drops to 385 litres in the plug-in hybrid.
The boot floor can be set to two heights. The higher position puts the floor level with the tailgate opening, making it easy to slide heavy items inside.
The back seats split and fold if you need more room for bags. With the seats lowered, luggage capacity goes up to 1430 litres, or 1385 litres in the plug-in hybrid.
Technology and high-quality materials meet in the cabin, although a Audi Q3 shades it for overall cabin class
The GLA looks stunning inside. It really does have a very attractive, high-tech cabin.
The twin-screens grab your attention first. When the GLA first came out the entry-level model came with a smaller driver-info display, but now even the most affordable Sport Executive specification comes with two 10.3-inch screens.
Sharp colours, crisp graphics, endless options to configure the display – the MBUX infotainment system is state of the art.
The screen that’s directly ahead of the driver takes the place of conventional dials. You can change the style of the display as well as the content, so whatever is important to you is on show. You use a controller on the right-hand side of the steering wheel to switch between the different appearances and display options.
To the left is the screen that handles the sat nav, smartphone mirroring, and touchscreen inputs, although the two screens look more like one as there’s no plastic or buttons between them. Again, the screen looks fantastic and works really well.
The MBUX system can be controlled through the touchscreen, the steering wheel, a touchpad, or voice control. Just call out ‘Hey Mercedes’ and tell the system what you want. You don’t need to learn specific commands and the voice control function is supposed to learn your voice and adjust to your accent over time.
It sounds complicated, but really it’s not as fiddly as it sounds. A little bit of perseverance unlocks an amazing range of functions.
Once you are done playing with the infotainment, look around you and take in the quality of the cabin. The turbine-style air vents look great and the metallic trims are classy and expensive looking. It’s only when you look lower down on the dash and doors that you start to notice some more scratchy plastics and the odd wobbly button. The GLA has more wow factor than the Audi Q3, but the Audi has an even better finish when you start investigating the finer details.
Company car drivers, there’s a clear favourite if it falls within the monthly budget your boss has allowed – the GLA 250e. This plug-in hybrid model is expensive if you are spending your own money, but splash the company’s cash and your reward is a very low company car benefit-in-kind tax bill.
With carbon dioxide emissions of just 31-34g/km, this is the greenest model in the range and has an official figure of up to 201.8mpg on the combined cycle. To get near that you will need to recharge regularly, although you should be able to travel nearly 40 miles before the petrol engine needs to support the electric motor.
If you don’t have anywhere convenient to recharge or you cover long distances regularly, one of the diesels may suit you better. For the best economy, choose the GLA 200d. It returns up to 52.3mpg on the official test cycle. The more powerful GLA 220d comes with Merc’s 4Matic 4x4 system, which makes it a bit thirstier. It still achieved 49.6mpg on the official test.
Once your GLA is one year old, you’ll need to pay Vehicle Excise Duty (VED). If you are watching the pennies it’s worth remembering that the cars costing over £40,000 attract an extra bill of £355 per year for five years once the first year’s VED runs out. Most GLA models cost over £40k, so you’ll need one of the more affordable models if you’re trying to avoid this extra cost.
Mercedes usually builds very safe cars, and the GLA ticks all the right boxes when it comes to avoiding a crash or protecting you if the worst happens.
It was crash-tested by the safety experts at Euro NCAP in 2019, and scored the maximum five stars. Adult occupant protection was rated at 96% and child occupant protection 90%. The pedestrian safety score was 79% and the safety assist score 75%.
The GLA comes with an autonomous emergency braking system to apply the brakes if a collision is likely and the driver isn’t paying attention. There’s also a bonnet that pops up by 65mm in a crash with a pedestrian to keep them away from the hard and unyielding engine.
Security equipment includes an alarm system with an immobiliser.
Lots of car buyers see Mercedes as a byword for quality, but that reputation isn’t necessarily born out in reliability or customer satisfaction surveys. In fact, Merc tends to finish in the bottom half of the league table, which is disappointing considering the premium prices it charges.
However, the previous generation GLA put in above average performances in some studies compared with other Merc models, so hopefully the latest GLA will do the same or better.
For the first three years on the road, any faults that do crop up should be covered by Merc’s new car warranty.