Mercedes-Benz GLA ups the Style & Sophistication

Running Costs...%

This is the new Mercedes GLA, the baby of the Mercedes SUV range. It’s based on the A-class but it’s a little bigger and a lot more practical. It gives you a higher driving position for a better view and the competition includes BMW’s X1 and Audi’s Q3.

Special mention : Stylish, Comfortable, Infotainment & MBUX are all excellent.

Needs work :  Lane assist needs an Irish Roads setting, it’s best kept for motorway use. Safety systems are a little over-sensitive.

Specs: GLA 220d

Max Power 150 HPDiesel / Auto
0-100 km/h in 8.6 secondsRoad Tax €270
Starting price
GLA €40,320
As spec’d

GLA 200d €42,715
With options

AMG Line €3,130, Metallic Paint €198, Night Pack €237, Rear Seat Adjust €684, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto €570, Advantage Pack €3,548.
Boot 451-1,430 litres

The GLA for 2020 is more of a proper SUV than just ‘an A-Class on stilts’, it’s wider but more importantly it’s taller by about 10 centimetres than the previous version. You get LED headlights as standard, on the AMG line grille the pins are insilver and the AMG lines have more aggressive bumpers withbig air intakes. The GLA has a sportier bumper and chrome trim, compared to the sport version which is a bit more subdued.

As standard you get 18” alloy wheels on the sport line and the AMG line has 19’s which look a bit better.  Both versions get chrome roof bars and chrome windows surrounds, the AMG line also gets rear privacy glass as well. There’s an updated design for the rear bumper for the sport line and there’s also a diffuser which looks great but isn’t part of a greater engineering plan.

The line kicks off with the GLA 200 with a 1.3 litre 3-cylinder turbo petrol with 163 BHP , then there’s the GLA 250 with a 2 litre turbocharged petrol with 224 BHP. In the Diesels range we have the GLA 200d which has a 2 litre Diesel with 150 BHP and then the GLA 220d which has a 2 litre Diesel but with 190 BHP. All models come with an automatic gearbox and the 220d comes with 4Matic all wheel drive. This GLA 200d should be able to do 0-100km/h in 8.6 seconds. Inside the GLA it’s full of luxury and modern textures with the standout feature being the twin infotainment screens. If you want the largest versions of the screens you need to step up to the executive model with the largest screens on the AMG line.​

The AMG line gets a sporty steering wheel with a flat base, soft nappa leather and metal gear sectors which feel very nice to the touch.  The AMG line also gets sports seats rather than the normal comfort seats of the sports model. 

In particular the design of the turbine style air vents is very satisfying to switch and click into place as well as working efficiently. The controls for the seats are located on the door rather than on the seat which makes it easier to operate and you can even extend the base. The driving position in the GLA is really comfortable and using the switches you can get that ideal driving position easily, whether you’re tall or small as you can jack the seat up very low and quite high.

The distance between the front wheels and the rear wheels is now longer and as a result you have more room in the back, Mercedes has added 11cm which means more knee room and as the front seats sit higher giving the driver and front-passenger that SUV driving experience means that passengers in the back can slide their feet underneath and stretch out. But if you need to carry three at once on the back bench, the transmission tunnel in the floor and the central seat is only for minimum length journeys.

The boot capacity is 435 litres, compared to the BMW X1 which is 505 litres and the Audi Q3’s is 530 litres. The seats split three ways (40/20/40) so you can fold the central seat and carry longer items but if you need to carry really big items you need to fold the seats down which doesn’t leave a completely flat load floor.

The GLA boot has some great features including nets, various tethering points, a low load lip so you can slide things in and out easily and a metallic strip across the opening to protect the paintwork on the bumper.

The entry-level model doesn’t come with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto so you have to shell out for Executive or above. Mercedes MBX system has a hands-free voice control system  activated by saying ‘hey Mercedes’ which I found to work very well but sometimes interrupts conversation. There are a number of cool features on the GLA range, such as if you’ve optioned the panoramic sunroof and you’ve left it open when it starts to rain, then it’ll automatically close, which is very clever. The augmented reality satellite navigation uses a forward facing camera to send a live feed of the road ahead onto the sat-nav screen which then superimpose graphical arrows of which exit to take into that ‘live’ environment. The driver assistance pack has a special feature when you’re parked you can tell if there’s an approaching cyclist or pedestrian and this comes up as a flash warning in the door mirror.

There’s an energising sheet kinetics option where the backrest constantly makes adjustments to alter your posture ever so slightly so that you don’t get stiff on long journeys. And last but not even least it has a car wash function which will automatically fold in the mirrors, turn off the parking sensors, turn off the rain sensor so the windscreen wipers don’t start flapping and it’ll also close the panoramic sunroof and the windows. The GLA will even turn on the 360-degree cameras so you can navigate into the car wash easily. Then when it’s over and you drive out of the car wash it puts all of the settings back to normal. Underneath, the GLA is effectively the same as an A-Class which means that it’s front-wheel drive however you can get 4Matic all-wheel drive versions and in normal driving mode 8% of the power goes to the front and 20% to the rear wheels. In sports driving mode you have 70% up front and 30% to the rear. When you select off-road mode you have a split of 50/50 for the best off-road traction. The GLA is available with two types of suspension, normal comfort suspension on the standard car or the lowered comfort suspension on the AMG line models.

AMG line models get upgraded brakes and discs with the Mercedes-Benz lettering on the caliper. While driving you find the steering is nicely weighted, it’s light enough to make it easy to park and manoeuvre through traffic. The turning circle is good enough to carry out  u-turns without having having to do too many three-point switches in the process. 

The automatic gearbox is very good and the driving mode is best left in Eco as it’s the most comfortable. Putting it into Sport it holds onto the revs a little too long which makes it a bit jerky. Mercedes has got the suspension on this car spot-on, it’s brilliant over bumps, rough roads and general motorway slogs and the Diesel engine has good mid-range punch and it’s quiet at motorway speeds.

The infotainment system is really very good and you can control it using the touch screen, haptic touch pad, shortcut buttons the on the steering wheel and voice commands using “hey Mercedes”. The system can learn your preferences over time, it will recognise which radio stations you listen to on the way home from work. Using the main digital drivers display you can control most functions through it selecting the small touch pad on the right side of the steering wheel. It’s possible to set your preferred view such as navigation, car settings. You can change the layout of the screen as well from the classic design, sport and understated which is just a simplified view.

Mercedes have improved the GLA with more space and refinement, where it wins over the A-Class is by creating extra space and visibility using the same platform.