All-new 2020 Mercedes GLA revealed

Russell Campbell
December 11, 2019

This is the all-new Mercedes GLA – the latest version of Mercedes’ entry-level SUV – which gets a posh new interior with bucket loads of extra space. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about it. 

  • Revealed

    new Mercedes GLA SUV

  • Specs include

    more interior space, permanent four-wheel drive

  • Price and release date

    from £35,000 on sale in spring 2020

Unlike the old model, which looked like a hatchback on jacked-up suspension, the 2020 Mercedes GLA looks like a proper SUV, albeit a small one. It’s 10cm taller than the old model and in practice, that means it gets a bluff new front and a squarer back end. It’s still 100% recognisable as a Mercedes though, meaning you get a big bold grille flanked by pretty LED headlights, curvey flanks with wheels up to 20-inches in size and jewel-like tail lights which mean the GLA looks a cut above mainstream SUVs even at night. The GLA is based on Merc’s MFA platform which underpins eight separate models covering everything from the A-Class saloon to the CLA Shooting Brake estate and seven-seater GLB. 

Thanks to its boxy rear-end the GLA looks more SUV than ever before.

Interior

That posh theme continues on the inside where you’re eyes are met by Merc’s familiar cabin design that’s dominated by a pair of huge (and naturally optional) infotainment screens which are controlled using Merc’s new MBUX operating system. It has advanced voice recognition that sparks into life when you say “Hey Mercedes…”. It responds to colloquial requests, so saying “Hey Mercedes, I’m cold” will have it turn up the heater and warm your seat. The system also includes Mercedes’ augmented reality sat-nav which can overlay directions onto an image of the road on the car’s central infotainment screen. Not only does this look uber cool, it also very functional making it easy to navigate complex roundabouts and junctions. 

The GLA’s interior might look identical to an A-Class’ but you sit 14cm higher.

Practicality

Because the new Mercedes GLA has a proper boxy SUV body – unlike the old GLA which looked like a normal car on raised suspension – it offers significantly more interior space than before. 

That’ll be most felt in the back where rear legroom has increased by more than 11cm. If you’re feeling particularly generous to your rear-seat passengers, you can even specify a rear seat that can slide back by up to 14cm and recline a few degrees so your mates in the back can lounge out on long journies.  The 435-litre boot, meanwhile, is also 14 litres bigger and there’s no load lip to lift your luggage over. 

Another advantage the GLA has over the A-Class is its bigger, more practical boot.

Engines and driving

The standard GLA will only be available with one petrol engine from launch though you can expect more petrols and diesel models and even a plug-in hybrid, to join the range in due course. For now, though, you’ll need to content yourself with the 163hp GLA 200 which has a 1.3-litre turbocharged engine mated to a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. That combination is good for 0-62mph in 8.7 and fuel economy of nearly 50mpg. Want more performance, then you’ll want to upgrade to the AMG GLA 35, which gets you a 306hp 2.0-litre petrol engine, standard four-wheel drive and an eight-speed twin-clutch gearbox. The GLA 35 gets from 0-62mph in just 5.1 seconds, more than half a second quicker than a Honda Civic Type R, and is limited to a 155mph top speed.  It can even return fuel economy of nearly 40mpg. 

The AMG 35 adds serious performance to the GLA’s long list of attributes.

You can have your Mercedes GLA with a proper electronically controlled permanent four-wheel-drive system with three modes. In Eco, only 20% of power is sent to the back wheels to help save fuel, while Sport increases that to 30% to make the car feel a tad more agile in bends. In Offroad mode, power is split 50:50 between the front and rear-wheels, for maximum traction in slippery conditions. 

Optional permanent four-wheel drive gives the GLA off-road ability to match its looks.

Specify your GLA with four-wheel drive and you’ll also get Merc’s off-road Engineered Package. It adds LED Multibeam headlights with an off-road mode that lights up verges and hill-descent control, which can lower the car safely down eye-bulgingly steep inclines. You even get a special display on the infotainment screen which helps you judge gradients. 

The Driving Assistance Package means the GLA can more or less drive itself.

Safety

All GLA’s come with automatic emergency braking as standard but you can take safety to the next level by adding the Driving Assistance Package. It can accelerate, brake, steer and even change lanes for you on the motorway. Also included is Evasive Steering Assist which detects imminent collisions and, if there’s no space to stop, takes control of the steering to swerve you around the accident. 

The new Mercedes GLA goes on sale in spring next year with a starting price of around £35,000. Want a top-of-the-range AMG GLA 35 with all the bells and whistles? Then you can expect to pay north of £50,000.