In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLA 250 e SUV review

"The Mercedes GLA 250 e is a luxurious and comfortable small SUV that has the potential to be extremely economical too"

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

Pros

  • Low running costs
  • Large battery
  • Upmarket interior

Cons

  • Reduced boot space
  • Jerky brake feel
  • Body lean in corners

The Mercedes GLA 250 e is the brand’s first attempt at a small plug-in hybrid SUV and one that will rival plug-in versions of the BMW X1, Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque.

Its powertrain is impressive, combining a 1.3-litre petrol engine with a 101bhp electric motor for a total of 215bhp and sprightly acceleration. More importantly, its large 15.6kWh battery also means it can be driven for up to 37 miles without using a drop of fuel, drastically reducing running costs. Its biggest rival is arguably the fully electric Mercedes EQA, with a range of around 200 miles that costs only a few hundred pounds more.

According to official figures the GLA 250 e is capable of up to 201.8mpg and emits just 32g/km of CO2, making it very appealing for business and private buyers alike. A full charge takes less than two hours using a 7.4kW wallbox, while a 24kW public charger can take the battery pack from 20 to 80% in 25 minutes.

The electric motor is powerful enough on its own to get the front-wheel drive GLA 250 e moving around town, while the intervention of the petrol engine helps it achieve a respectable 0-62mph time of 7.1 seconds. Unlike some sporty SUVs, including the BMW X1 xDrive25e, the plug-in GLA's engineers have clearly had comfort in mind, so power delivery and ride comfort are both smooth but the car does lean a little in corners.

The interior is largely unchanged from the standard GLA, with two screens positioned side-by-side for driver information and infotainment. This gives the dashboard an uncluttered, modern look, and most materials are also of excellent quality. Passenger space has been largely unaffected, but the addition of a large battery does mean the boot has shrunk by 50 litres, so now measures 445 litres in volume. As a rule of thumb, this is roughly the same as some family hatchbacks (the Volkswagen Golf has a 380-litre boot), so if this is too small you may need to look elsewhere.

Plug-in hybrids might be becoming more prevalent but they aren't new, and Mercedes has clearly had time to refine the technology. The GLA 250 e has a large battery and great performance, which should be a revelation for drivers with a low to medium daily mileage as it will significantly reduce their running costs.

MPG, running costs & CO2

There's enough battery capacity to easily cover average daily use

The GLA 250 e should easily achieve the lowest running costs in the current GLA range, unless you include the all-electric EQA based on the same platform. That's thanks to its large 15.6kWh lithium-ion battery, which benefits from water cooling. Batteries are very sensitive to temperature changes, so this helps keep them at the right temperature, noticeably improving range in winter.

When fully charged, drivers should be able to manage up to 37 miles of all-electric driving, easily taking care of the average daily commute. Thanks to this, its official economy figure is up to 201.8mpg, but this figure will drop the more you rely on the petrol engine. CO2 emissions of 32-33g/km will also make the GLA 250 e very desirable for company-car drivers, reducing BiK tax.

Charging the battery from 10 to 80% takes less than two hours using a 7.4kW home wallbox, while a 24kW public DC fast-charger can take it from zero to 80% in just under half an hour.

Engines, drive & performance

Punchy performance but with a focus on comfort rather than agility

The 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor produce a combined total of 215bhp, while the 101bhp electric motor has enough power to make the GLA 250 e easily capable of keeping up with traffic in EV mode. In fact, it can reach 86mph on electricity alone but higher speeds will drain the battery pack more quickly. The 250 e is front-wheel drive and fitted with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

Press the starter button and the GLA drives away silently, with the car doing a good job of prioritising electric power and the petrol engine only chiming in when necessary. When it does, the 250 e feels fairly brisk, as evidenced by its official 0-62mph acceleration time of 7.1 seconds and 137mph top speed. However, it's clear Mercedes’ focus was comfort, because while the switch between electric and hybrid power is seamless, the GLA 250 e has leans more in corners. However, it still feels secure and handles reasonably well, despite only coming with front-wheel drive. The BMW X1 xDrive25e is more fun but the Mercedes is reassuring and feels safe, despite its light steering.

Interior & comfort

Technology and quality impress in equal measure

Mercedes is blazing a trail as far as interior design is concerned, revolutionising how information is presented to the driver. Analogue gauges are now a thing of the past, with digital screens taking their place for a modern look with greater flexibility. These vary in size from seven-inches to twin 10.25-inch screens in top trim levels, for a truly 'widescreen' effect. The MBUX infotainment software is designed to feel familiar for smartphone users, and offers intelligent voice recognition.

Most of the interior has been adapted from the Mercedes A-Class hatchback but it's more upright here, in keeping with the SUV theme and higher seating position. Materials are of a high quality, there are stylish turbine-style air vents and ambient lighting gives the interior a pleasant atmosphere once it’s dark outside. Despite the extra weight of the battery, the suspension fitted to the A 250 e also makes it more than comfortable enough for the UK's roads.

Practicality & boot space

The Mercedes GLA 250 e is fairly roomy but boot space has been reduced

Mercedes has reduced the size of the fuel tank and repositioned the exhaust, so despite the small size of the GLA and its large battery, there hasn't been a dramatic reduction in passenger space or boot space.

The latter is the worst hit, with boot space reduced by 50 litres to 445 - just slightly more than you get in some family hatchbacks. The boot is a useful shape, however, with no awkward intrusions and a flat floor with no loading lip. It's a shame there's no underfloor storage for the charging cable, as it means you'll either need to leave it at home or keep it loose in the boot.

Reliability & safety

Loaded with the latest safety kit

Mercedes has a long-standing reputation for building cars with cutting-edge safety kit, and there's no sign of that diminishing here. Every GLA comes with plenty of airbags and autonomous emergency braking, along with an active bonnet that lifts slightly in a pedestrian impact to help reduce injuries. The GLA hasn't been crash-tested by Euro NCAP yet, but the smaller A-Class has achieved a five-star rating.

Reliability is slightly more mixed, because while it's encouraging the A-Class (which has a lot of shared parts with the GLA) came 36th in our 2020 Driver Power results, the Mercedes brand was ranked a disappointing 28th out of 30 manufacturers. A fairly low 12.8% of A-Class owners reported one or more faults within the first 12 months.

Most Popular

New BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe revealed
New BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe
BMW 4 Series
9 Jun 2021

New BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe revealed

How to remove bird poop from a car
How to remove bird poop from car
Tips and advice
26 May 2021

How to remove bird poop from a car

Best 4x4s and SUVs
Peugeot 3008 SUV rear 3/4 tracking
Family SUVs
3 Jun 2021

Best 4x4s and SUVs

Next Vauxhall Astra to get sleek new look
2021 Vauxhall Astra
Vauxhall Astra hatchback
8 Jun 2021

Next Vauxhall Astra to get sleek new look

Bold new Vauxhall Grandland SUV arrives with technology overhaul
2021 Vauxhall Grandland SUV.
Vauxhall Grandland X
8 Jun 2021

Bold new Vauxhall Grandland SUV arrives with technology overhaul

Best new car deals 2021
Nissan Qashqai
Deals
11 Jun 2021

Best new car deals 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

Ford Puma ST SUV review
Ford Puma ST
Ford Puma ST
8 Jun 2021

Ford Puma ST SUV review

First look at the new Audi RS3
2021 Audi RS3 saloon and hatchback
Audi RS3
10 Jun 2021

First look at the new Audi RS3

Best cheap cars
Dacia Duster SUV
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap cars

Best hybrid cars
Toyota Corolla Trek
Best cars
8 Jun 2021

Best hybrid cars

Dartford Crossing toll changes and Dart Charge
Dartford Crossing
Tips and advice
8 Jun 2021

Dartford Crossing toll changes and Dart Charge

New Kia Sportage revealed with radical design
2021 Kia Sportage - front 3/4
Kia Sportage SUV
8 Jun 2021

New Kia Sportage revealed with radical design

Speed awareness course: all you need to know
Police car - open boot
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Speed awareness course: all you need to know

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?
Tips and Advice
23 Mar 2020

PCP vs HP – what's the difference?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
24 Feb 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Best cars
10 Mar 2020

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Hot hatches
9 Apr 2020

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks