The GLA’s cabin comes with just enough soft-touch materials and shiny metal trims to justify its price tag but it’s starting to show its age against more modern, high-tech alternatives
The Mercedes GLA’s interior has been carried over almost completely unchanged from the A-Class. This means you get a sweep of shiny plastic trim across its dashboard and three cool metal air vents that look like they’ve been lifted from a sports car.
Most of the surfaces you touch regularly, such as the tops of the doors and the steering wheel, feel plush and solid but the centre console is littered with brittle plastics and sharp edges. The numerous buttons scattered across the dashboard look pretty old-fashioned and the free-standing iPad-like infotainment display looks like a bit of an afterthought. It’s certainly not as slick as the BMW X1’s neatly integrated widescreen unit.
Fortunately, the Artico man-made leather upholstery you get as standard feels just like the real thing. High-spec AMG Line models come with more supportive sports seats, some eye-catching red stitching and polished aluminium trims on the dashboard.
Really push the boat out for a top-spec WhiteArt Edition and you’ll get some subtle grey stitching and mood lighting in 12 selectable colours but if you want real leather seats you’ll have to hand over £895 for the Exclusive Package.
The cabin tries its best to mimic sporty Mercedes models but a few chrome air vents aren’t quite enough to make the GLA’s interior feel special
Entry-level GLAs come with a rather small seven-inch infotainment display that sits on the dashboard like a 2010 smartphone in a shop window. Its thick black frame looks and feels rather cheap and its rather low-resolution screen can’t hold a candle to the high-definition display you get in a BMW X1.
Sport models and above get a slightly larger eight-inch display but both Mercedes systems are let down by clunky, unresponsive menus that aren’t as easy to navigate as in the Audi Q3 or BMW X1. You get some physical buttons to help you switch between key features on the move but they’re easily lost in the sea of almost identical square buttons on the GLA’s centre console.
Thankfully, the scroll wheel down by the handbrake is relatively intuitive to use and it means you can tweak some of the system’s more detailed settings without taking your eyes off the road for too long.
As if to rub salt in the wound, you don’t get satellite navigation as standard and DAB digital radio will set you back £420 on all but top-spec AMG GLA 45 models. Thankfully, you get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring as standard so you can use your phone’s navigation or music streaming apps through the car’s built-in display.
Speaking of music, the GLA’s standard stereo is reasonably punchy but its six speakers sometimes struggle to fill the GLA’s cabin with clear bass notes. The upgraded 12-speaker Harman Kardon system is much better but will set you back £680.