Review: Mercedes-Benz GLA (2014)
Impressive ride quality. Available with two or four-wheel drive. Good rear passenger and load space. High quality interior finish.
Lacklustre dual clutch automatic. 220 d noisy and not as good as competitor diesel engines. Driving position not as high as other compact SUVs.
Mercedes-Benz GLA (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £27,185, brokers can source from £22,631
- Contract hire deals from £233.38 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 19–44
- On average it achieves 81% of the official MPG figure
The GLA is the Mercedes-Benz equivalent of the BMW X1, Range Rover Evoque and Audi Q3, a compact SUV designed to blend the practicality of a hatch with the option of four wheel drive. What's surprising is why, given the popularity of smaller 4x4s among premium car buyers, it has taken so long for the GLA to arrive.
It's no surprise to learn that it's based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. It uses the same platform and there are clearly big similarities in the styling, both inside and out. Despite being an SUV, it's not as big as you'd expect, in fact sitting behind the wheel it's a bit like a jacked-up A-Class - the driving position isn't overly elevated.
It does come with raised ground clearance and a more rugged appearance as we've come to expect from this style of SUV. As with the competition there are both two and four-wheel drive versions available but most people will opt for the standard two-wheel drive 200d - like the A-Class it's a front-wheel drive layout.
The engine line-up echoes the A-Class too, so there's a 200d and 220d 4Matic which are both powered by the familiar 2.1-litre diesel. It's a decent engine but not the most refined around and when combined with the 7G-DCT automatic gearbox it's a fairly lacklustre combination if you want performance. If you don't need diesel, there's a GLA 200 which is actually powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine.
The GLA is better suited to a more laid back driving style and it's the excellent ride quality that really shines through, especially with the standard SE suspension. It's quiet and comfortable at motorway speeds and good over long distances. The interior quality is top notch too so although the basic design is starting to look a little dated now - the stereo controls in particular - the quality of the finish is very good.
What does a Mercedes-Benz GLA (2014) cost?
Buy a used Mercedes-Benz GLA from £18,850
Mercedes-Benz GLA (2014): What's It Like Inside?
While it's categorised as a compact SUV, the GLA doesn't feel like one from behind the wheel. It's true it does have an elevated driving position but it's actually only 4cm higher than an A-Class so there's not the advantage you get with something like an Audi Q3. Considering many people who buy a small SUV like this appreciate a higher driving position it's somewhat of a surprise.
That said, it is good news as it makes the GLA feel very much like a conventional hatchback. Forward visibility is good and it's easy to see where the nose is for judging parking plus there's plenty of adjustment in both the seat and the steering column. It's spacious too and even taller drivers won't be short of leg room.
Thanks to the raised ride height getting in and out is easier than a normal hatchback and the seats offer impressive long distance comfort, helped by good lower back support. The GLA gets Artico artificial leather seats as standard while AMG Line models have sports seats in Artico and Dinamica complete with red stitching, which not only add a touch of style but are also more supportive in the right places.
Rear space is similar to an A-Class too, albeit with a couple more centimetres of headroom. If you've got a tall driver or front passenger then you'll find legroom quite limited – even with the seas slid back – but things improve in the back, which is surprisingly accommodating for adults. That said a BMW X1 feels more spacious.
When it comes to boot space the GLA is usefully practical with 481 litres – a 140-litre increase on the A-Class - plus the boot opening is wide with only a low boot lip. You can also adjust the rear seats to a steeper position which increases the load capacity by 60 litres.
What really shines through with the GLA is the quality of the finish. It feels as well built and as upmarket as larger Mercedes-Benz models with a reassuring thud when you close the doors. The jury is still out on the overall interior design however. It's a bit of a mixed bag and although features like the circular air vents give it a sense of style it doesn't feel particularly modern.
We'd suggest avoiding some of the wood trims which don't help, while the stereo controls are starting to look a bit old hat too. It does get an electric parking brake as standard which is far better than the traditional Mercedes-Benz foot operated system, however the button is tucked away by your knee. Storage is good with two cupholders, a central cubby that doubles as the armrest and – if you opt for an automatic – a large lidded box where the gear lever is on the manual version.
Standard equipment from launch (February 2014)
SE models have a two louvre radiator grille in silver, front and rear apron trim in dark chrome, 18-inch alloy wheels with comfort suspension, silver or anthracite interior trim, a nappa leather multifunction steering wheel, Artico artificial leather upholstery and a 5.8-inch high resolution display screen.
AMG Line models get an AMG front bumper with the apron trim in matt titanium grey, AMG side sill and rear bumper, 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, sports suspension and Dynamic Handling Package, aluminium interior trim, AMG floormats, a sports steering wheel with red stitching plus sports seats in Artico and Dinamica with red stitching.
Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz GLA (2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Mercedes-Benz GLA (2014) like to drive?
- Engines range from GLA 180 to GLA220 d 4Matic Automatic
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 24–62 mpg
When launched in 2012, the A-Class - on which the GLA is based - was met with a somewhat mixed reception by critics. While it was an improvement on its predecessor, the ride was deemed too hard and the steering too artificial. Thankfully both those criticisms have been addressed with the GLA. The ride is its most impressive feature. It's smooth over poor quality surfaces and quiet on the motorway.
In fact the GLA makes a very good long distance car. This has long been a Mercedes-Benz strength and the GLA follows in this tradition. Rather than try and make it too sporty, Mercedes-Benz has gone for a more supple set-up. The standard suspension is a comfort set-up while AMG Line models get firmer and lower sports suspension. It's appreciably stiffer but not uncomfortable.
While it's good at speed the GLA also handles well on more demanding roads. The steering is less artificial than in the A-Class and although not exactly over-endowed with natural feel, it's nonetheless well weighted. Unlike some compact SUVs there's little lean in corners and decent front end grip so although it doesn't encourage you to go too quick, it does give you enough confidence through corners.
The GLA 200d comes only as a front-wheel drive and with a manual gearbox as standard. It's powered by a 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel with 136PS and a useful 300Nm of torque. Unfortunately it's not the best diesel around compared to similar 2.0-litre units from BMW or Audi.
It's noisy on start-up although there's less noise on the move thanks to good sound insulation. Better news is official economy of more than 64mpg on some models, although you're better off checking out Real MPG for a more accurate picture.
The same engine powers the GLA 220d but with power boosted to 170PS and torque up to 350Nm. It feels stronger when accelerating from low revs, helped by the fact all that torque peaks from just 1400rpm. The problem is the power band is quite narrow so it often runs out of power sooner than you expect and as a result it's doesn't feel as powerful as the figures suggest.
It's a much happier engine when not rushed but does seem hampered by the 7G-DCT automatic gearbox. It's standard on the GLA 220d but can be slow to respond, particularly when you want it to kickdown a gear. As a result, slowing down for roundabouts and then accelerating back up to speed again can result in the transmission hunting for the right gear.
That said it's very smooth and quick when shifting up. The manual in the GLA 200d is a better choice but we don't feel you should have to compromise - the GLA is the type of car that's better suited as an automatic and it’s a pity that the ‘box isn’t up to the task.
The sportiest petrol is the GLA250 4Matic which is a 2.0-litre petrol with 211PS. It's enjoyable and good fun to drive thanks to the turbocharged petrol engine and produces a nice exhaust note, but again it's hampered by the 7G-DCT automatic.
|GLA 180||-||-||158–160 g/km|
|GLA 180 Automatic||-||-||144–146 g/km|
|GLA 200||-||-||151–153 g/km|
|GLA 200 Automatic||-||-||147–148 g/km|
|GLA 220d 4Matic Automatic||47–48 mpg||7.7 s||155–157 g/km|
|GLA 250 4Matic Automatic||-||-||169 g/km|
|GLA180 Automatic||41–45 mpg||8.7–9.0 s||144–158 g/km|
|GLA200||42–47 mpg||8.4 s||134–138 g/km|
|GLA200 Automatic||44–49 mpg||8.1 s||131–135 g/km|
|GLA200 CDI||63–67 mpg||9.5–10.0 s||110–119 g/km|
|GLA200 CDI Automatic||63 mpg||9.9 s||119 g/km|
|GLA200 d||64–67 mpg||9.5–10.0 s||110–119 g/km|
|GLA200 d 4Matic Automatic||49–57 mpg||9.1–9.9 s||130–132 g/km|
|GLA200 d Automatic||50–67 mpg||9.1–9.9 s||108–119 g/km|
|GLA200d||67 mpg||9.5 s||110 g/km|
|GLA200d 4Matic Automatic||49 mpg||9.1 s||130 g/km|
|GLA200d Automatic||51 mpg||9.1 s||108 g/km|
|GLA220 CDI 4Matic||55–63 mpg||8.3–9.9 s||119–132 g/km|
|GLA220 CDI 4Matic Automatic||55 mpg||8.3 s||127 g/km|
|GLA220 d 4Matic Automatic||48–57 mpg||7.7 s||130 g/km|
|GLA250 4Matic||38–43 mpg||6.6–7.1 s||154 g/km|
|GLA250 4Matic Automatic||38–43 mpg||6.6 s||154–155 g/km|
|GLA45 AMG||33–38 mpg||4.4–4.8 s||172–175 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz GLA (2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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