The Mercedes-Benz GLA Class is a compact crossover based on the A-Class hatchback, offering increased practicality and bolder styling whilst retaining a hatchback-like driving experience. It's been around since 2014 and a mild facelift was applied in 2017, while there's also a high-performance AMG model available. For drivers wanting the A-Class' driving quality, but with added interior space, a more imposing look and improved refinement, the GLA Class is the Mercedes to go for.
The GLA's body isn't as raised as most SUVs - this may be a good thing or a bad thing for you, depending on your preference. What it does have though is a significant presence and the classic Mercedes look. The large grille, headlights and sharp creases on the bonnet and sides give the GLA an aggressive look, and even entry level models come with 17-inch 10-spoke wheels as standard. You can upgrade your body and wheels with the huge range of equipment and accessories packages.
The interior is also well-equipped, with the Audio 20 multimedia system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, coming as standard, along with air con, keyless go and leather upholstery. The dashboard and cabin are very similar to those in the A-Class, but this is no bad thing - as usual with Mercedes, it's nicely laid out and is solidly put together with good quality materials, and the seats are comfortable too. The GLA AMG adds an even more impressive equipment lineup, coming with DAB digital radio, a reversing camera and a slim 5.8-inch display screen.
The GLA ticks boxes in the SUV department, being easy to drive and soaking up bumps pretty well. Sport versions have firmer suspensions, providing for a more agile drive. 4Matic four wheel drive is standard on most models, and the GLA can tackle muddy roads without much trouble, though it's very much an urban vehicle rather than an off-roader. If you're looking for something more exciting, the AMG corners impressively, handling well despite the power of its engines.
The boot of the GLA-Class is a good size and has useful tie-down points to stop things rolling around. You can expand the space in a couple of useful ways: the rear seat backs can be made more upright to create an extra 60 litres of space, while they can also be folded down, creating a load space of 1235 litres, which is completely flat and easy to use. Cockpit and passenger space are good, while another useful feature is the through-load hatch for long but narrow items, accessed by folding down the middle arm-rest in the rear seats.
Engines and transmissions
Diesel GLAs are far more common on the used car market. You get a choice of two, which are both turbocharged 2.1-litre engines. The front-wheel drive GLA 200d is available in 6-speed manual or 7G-DCT dual-clutch automatic (if you go for the 4Matic four-wheel-drive version then only automatic is available), with the latter reaching top speed slightly more quickly and offering a smooth transmission. The GLA 220d 4Matic is only available with the automatic transmission. It's the quicker of the two engines, reaching 62mph in under 8 seconds. The GLA AMG's engine, meanwhile is highly impressive. It's a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol with an output of 355bhp; add in substantial torque and you've got a powerful beast. There's even the option of a sports exhaust for added excitement.
Many people are keen on SUVs these days, and while the GLA doesn't look like a typical SUV, it's got the key qualities required of a vehicle of this type. Practicality, space and comfort make it a good option for families, while the Mercedes badge adds appeal as always. The equipment and build quality mean this is a premium option, and the AMG model offers added fun for drivers that want it.