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In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLA SUV (2014-2020)

“The Mercedes GLA is a distinctive crossover that’s effectively a reworked A-Class. It’s desirable, but lacks space”

Carbuyer Rating

2.9 out of 5

Owners Rating

4.5 out of 5

Read owner reviews

Pros

  • Good standard equipment
  • Comfortable seats
  • Quiet interior

Cons

  • High purchase price
  • Not particularly fun to drive
  • Some rivals are cheaper to run

With premium brands and compact SUVs both more fashionable today than ever before, the Mercedes GLA appears to have everything going for it. It's far from the most rugged car of its type, though – it's essentially the previous-generation Mercedes A-Class on stilts. This has some advantages, though, as the GLA retains fun handling, but also has a smoother ride than its sporty hatchback sister.

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The badge on its grille certainly brings a certain appeal, and puts the GLA up against the Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q3, BMW X1 and MINI Countryman on upmarket shopping lists. Like much of the Mercedes range, the GLA has been kept up to date to ensure that its looks and equipment meet customer expectations, even if its fundamentals remain largely the same as when it was launched. However, the GLA is soon to be replaced, so the line-up has been reduced dramatically.

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Only petrol engines are available in brand-new cars now, leaving buyers with a choice of GLA 180, GLA 200 and GLA 250 4MATIC versions. Despite their badges, they have 120bhp, 154bhp and 208bhp respectively. The 180 and 200 both use a 1.6-litre engine, a six-speed manual gearbox and are front-wheel drive, although a seven-speed DCT automatic is available, while the 250 has a 2.0-litre engine, plus four-wheel-drive and an automatic gearbox as standard.

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If you’re looking on the used market, there are also two diesel options as well as the incredibly potent Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, with 376bhp (which we’ve reviewed separately).

Peruse the brochure and the pared-back choice of Urban Edition and AMG Line Edition trim levels is quite straightforward, and there’s no longer an extensive array of options and equipment packs. This means it’s easier to spec a GLA, and handy when you might not see much of a return on expensive extras when it comes to sell on.

Urban Edition is far from stingy, with LED headlights, 18-inch alloy wheels, Artico leather seats, sat nav with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a reversing camera. AMG Line Edition gives the GLA a distinctive look, with extra styling features and different alloy wheels.

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Safety isn’t a worry, thanks to a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, helped by standard autonomous emergency braking, which can stop the car if a collision is deemed imminent. The GLA wasn’t represented in our 2019 Driver Power customer satisfaction results, but the A-Class it’s based on came 56th out of 75 models in 2018. As a manufacturer, Mercedes’ most recent result was a disappointing 26th out of 30 manufacturers. The facelift has renewed the GLA's front grille and bumper, brought some subtle interior tweaks and the availability of LED headlights.

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Richard is a former editor of Carbuyer, as well as sister site DrivingElectric.com, and he's now Deputy Editor at Auto Express. Having spent a decade working in the automotive industry, he understands exactly what makes new car buyers tick.

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