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Mercedes GLA (2014-2016) review

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.

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Mercedes GLA (2014-2016): what would you like to read next?

Is the Mercedes GLA (2014-2016) a good car?

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.

The GLA is a better family car than the A-Class that it is based upon

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

The GLA nets 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.

It’s a little on the pricey side, but when stacked up against the BMW X1 and Audi Q3 it makes some sense – and looks nowhere near as ordinary!

What's it like to drive?

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.

Choose a model with bigger wheels and you'll have to put up with a stiffer ride

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

The GLA’s engine line-up is made up of four power units – two diesels and two petrols.

The range begins with the 2.1-litre diesel fitted to the 200d. 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 fuel economy of more than 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 220d is the same as in the 200d, but has more power – making it the pick of the bunch. It sprints from 0-62mph in 7.7 seconds while still managing to return 56mpg.

The cheapest petrol in the range produces 211hp from it’s 2.0-litre capacity with the help of a turbocharger and it feels lively and sounds characterful. A performance hatchback baiting 0-62mph time of 6.6 seconds should be enough to sway you away from diesel power if performance is key and, to further back its appeal, the petrol engine is decently economical on fuel – 43.5mpg is not bad for the performance on offer.

Topping off the range is a 365hp petrol 2.0-litre 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 so desire. Unsurprisingly, this version is expensive to buy and fuel.

Handling has taken a light knock as a result of the GLA’s tall suspension, 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.

What's it like inside?

If you’ve sat in an A-Class, CLA-Class or B-Class Mercedes, you’ll already be familiar with the new GLA.

Next Read full interior review
Buy a new or used Mercedes GLA (2014-2016) at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £25,350 - £48,045
  • Build your perfect car or choose from our recommendations based on your needs
  • Dealers come to you with their best offers
  • Compare offers and buy with confidence