Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class AMG Line review
The Mercedes GLA AMG Line is a sporty-looking premium compact SUV that lacks the refinement of its rivals
The compact SUV segment has grown massively over the last few years, with more of the ‘premium’ manufacturers offering a model in this growing market sector. Mercedes’ offering is the GLA, effectively a mildly modified version of the previous A-Class with a raised ride height and tougher, off-roader-style bodywork. Rivals for the GLA SUV include the BMW X1, Audi Q3, and the recently revised Range Rover Evoque.
The GLA is a popular pick in the top spec AMG Line trim, which combines AMG body styling with rugged-looking black plastic cladding, silver accents on the front and rear bumpers, side sills, and 19-inch alloy wheels.
In this trim level, there’s a choice of three diesel engines and two petrols. The diesel models are the more suitable choice for high mileage drivers, offering greater fuel economy thanks to low-to-mid-40s mpg figures. If you want better performance and cover a lower annual mileage, we’d recommend one of the two petrol engines, which can deliver mpg figures close to the mid-30s.
While the diesel engines are relatively economical, they do lack refinement. All variants have the 2.1-litre engine under the bonnet, albeit with varying levels of power. This engine has been around for several years, and sadly a large amount of diesel clatter and rattle when accelerating are indicative of its age, and make it somewhat unrefined when compared to newer engines found in rivals like the BMW X1. The noise of the engine is quickly forgotten at motorway speeds, with the GLA AMG Line generating quite a lot of wind and road noise thanks to its shape, as well as tyre roar thanks to its 19-inch alloy wheels.
When it comes to the driving experience, the GLA AMG Line also falls short when compared to its rivals. While it does offer good grip levels and corners fairly flatly, it suffers from slow steering, giving it a lack of feel and composure on faster B-roads. In the city, this slowness makes it feel cumbersome when maneuvering around town at low speed or in a tight car park.
The GLA’s suspension was revised when Mercedes last updated the GLA. This is an improvement over the outgoing model, but the GLA still struggles to absorb larger bumps and road imperfections, which can be felt in the cabin. The 19-inch alloy wheels add to this lack of refinement, with a far less composed ride quality than its rivals.
While the driving experience isn’t class-leading, at least the GLA’s interior is better, with good quality materials and excellent build quality. The combination of materials used with chrome accents adds to the upmarket feel. However, the interior is by no means as well designed as the new A-Class hatchback, with a number of slightly confusingly laid out buttons and switches. The sat-nav and infotainment system also lags behind rival offerings as well, with a lower-spec Garmin-based system fitted as standard featuring both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Buying the higher-spec upgraded Mercedes infotainment will cost you an additional £995.
The GLA AMG Line is generally quite well equipped, with sports seats, a sports steering wheel, cruise control, active brake and lane keeping assist, dual-zone air conditioning and upgraded Artico faux leather trim. There’s plenty of room for front seat passengers, but those in the back might find it a little cramped and its boot, while substantial at 481 litres, isn’t as big as the 505 litres on offer in the BMW X1.
The GLA AMG Line is a competent offering from Mercedes that lacks the refinement and driving composure of rivals from BMW or Audi. Indeed, some cheaper rivals offer a superior driving experience and offer more standard equipment for less money. The AMG Line trim does look attractive but it also comes with compromises in terms of ride comfort and noise levels, so an SE or Sport model might be a better choice.