Quick car review finder - select below

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) review: 4.0/5

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020) Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020)

The smallest Mercedes SUV is the new GLA; worth a premium over the A-Class?

Shane O' Donoghue

Words: - @Shane_O_D

Published on: August 25, 2020

Words: - @Shane_O_D

Published on: August 25, 2020

Tech Specs

Model testedMercedes-Benz GLA 200 d AMG Line
PricingGLA from €40,320; GLA 200 d from €42,715
Engine2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmissioneight-speed, dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body styleSUV/crossover
CO2 emissions121g/km (Band B1 - €270 per annum)
Fuel economy58.8-61.4mpg (4.8-4.6 litres/100km)
Top speed208km/h
0-100km/h8.6 seconds
Power150hp at 3,400-4,400rpm
Torque320Nm at 1,400-3,200rpm
Boot space435-1,430 litres

This is the new Mercedes-Benz GLA, the smallest of the G-badged SUVs and crossovers in the Mercedes line-up, but actually one of the most important to the company's bottom line, certainly in Europe, where this second-generation model is expected to be one of the firm's best-selling vehicles. Unsurprisingly, the new GLA is built on the same core platform as the existing Mercedes B-Class and Mercedes GLB, and it has elements of both in terms of its exterior and interior styling and layout. The GLA is a five-door, five-seat car currently available with petrol or diesel power (a plug-in hybrid is on the way) and front-wheel drive or 4Matic four-wheel drive depending on engine. Premium-badged rivals include the Audi Q2 and Q3, the BMW X1 and X2, Jaguar E-Pace, Lexus UX and Volvo XC40.

In the Metal:

Where the first-generation Mercedes GLA looked more like an inflated A-Class, the new version takes its design direction from the larger SUVs in the line-up. Hence, though the new GLA is some 15mm shorter than before, it's a significant 104mm higher. The wheels are 30mm further apart front-to-rear, too, so the overhangs are much shorter. All that, allied to the established 'SUV style' grille up front, gives it more presence than before, especially when viewed from the front. Nonetheless, the roof, side glass and rear window work together to give it a sleeker appearance than the upright approach of the Mercedes GLB, for example. In AMG Line specification, as shown here, it's quite an attractive looking car, we reckon.

Same story inside. The current Mercedes compact car suite of switchgear and infotainment is present and correct, including the MBUX displays and various modes of controlling it all. Like the GLB, the GLA gets a few chunkier details to remind the occupants they're in an SUV. The most pertinent reminder, however, is the higher up seating position. The new GLA has 9mm more ground clearance than before, which may come in useful, but potential buyers trying out the GLA in a Mercedes showroom are more likely to notice the difference between it and the A-Class - apparently, the GLA's seats are mounted a full 140mm higher. Even so, Mercedes claims that the new GLA has more headroom, elbow space and rear shoulder space than its predecessor.

Our test car featured the optionally adjusted rear seats. As standard, they split and fold down, but for €684 they also slide and the backrests tilt. It's a handy addition to the car, and four adults can sit comfortably in it, but we don't see the GLA being bought by families. The rear seat base itself is quite firm and set low down, while the boot holds a minimum of 435 litres of luggage.


Driving it:

The first thing you notice about the GLA is that you're sitting quite high up and there's great visibility in all directions. The driver's seat and the steering wheel have loads of adjustment, too, so it's easy to get comfortable. Newcomers to the Mercedes brand may find the steering column mounted drive selector a little odd at first, but it soon becomes second nature - and of course, it frees up space in the centre console. It operates the standard eight-speed automatic, which is probably the least impressive aspect of the package. It's too slow to respond in its default setting, holds onto gears too long in the Sport mode and judders a little sometimes on coming to a stop. You can work around all this to a certain extent by utilising the tactile gearchange paddles behind the wheel, but we wonder how many buyers will bother.

Thankfully, it's all good news from there. In fact, the GLA turns out to be remarkably good to drive. While the equally-new Mercedes GLB was developed with family comfort in mind, the GLA is much sharper on the road. In AMG Line specification, it might sacrifice a smidgen of luxury and suppleness for this, but it's not what you'd ever call uncomfortable. And the upshot is quite impressive wheel and body control, even when the road surface turns particularly nasty. In fact, the GLA proved to be huge fun to drive on our most challenging test roads, with quick-witted steering and a 'togetherness' to the chassis that you just don't expect from a junior SUV.

The 200 d is powered by a 150hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, which is perfectly adequate, too. It's not the quietest engine in the world, but it offers a good blend of economy and performance for those that need the long-distance frugality of a diesel.


What you get for your Money:

The first thing you notice about the GLA is that you're sitting quite high up and there's great visibility in all directions. The driver's seat and the steering wheel have loads of adjustment, too, so it's easy to get comfortable. Newcomers to the Mercedes brand may find the steering column mounted drive selector a little odd at first, but it soon becomes second nature - and of course, it frees up space in the centre console. It operates the standard eight-speed automatic, which is probably the least impressive aspect of the package. It's too slow to respond in its default setting, holds onto gears too long in the Sport mode and judders a little sometimes on coming to a stop. You can work around all this to a certain extent by utilising the tactile gearchange paddles behind the wheel, but we wonder how many buyers will bother.

Thankfully, it's all good news from there. In fact, the GLA turns out to be remarkably good to drive. While the equally-new Mercedes GLB was developed with family comfort in mind, the GLA is much sharper on the road. In AMG Line specification, it might sacrifice a smidgen of luxury and suppleness for this, but it's not what you'd ever call uncomfortable. And the upshot is quite impressive wheel and body control, even when the road surface turns particularly nasty. In fact, the GLA proved to be huge fun to drive on our most challenging test roads, with quick-witted steering and a 'togetherness' to the chassis that you just don't expect from a junior SUV.

The 200 d is powered by a 150hp 2.0-litre diesel engine, which is perfectly adequate, too. It's not the quietest engine in the world, but it offers a good blend of economy and performance for those that need the long-distance frugality of a diesel.

Summary

There are plenty of incredibly good crossovers and SUVs in the market vying for the attention of buyers with upwards of €40,000 to spend. Even if a prestige badge is important to you, there's still a strong handful of contenders. The new Mercedes GLA is certainly good enough to be on most buyers' shortlists, but it doesn't obviously outdo its rivals in any key area, so the choice is likely to come down to preference for a given brand, design or local dealer. That aside, the GLA is undoubtedly a stylish new addition to the SUV ranks, but one that drives like it's a sporty hatchback.



Alternatives

Car Reviews | Audi Q3 35 TDI (2.0 diesel) | CompleteCar.ie
Audi Q3 vs. Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020): very closely priced in 150hp diesel automatic guises. The Audi is more spacious, but the Mercedes is better to drive. May come down to individual inclination.
Car Reviews | BMW X2 xDrive20d diesel | CompleteCar.ie
BMW X2 vs. Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020): we could have as easily chosen the more spacious X1, but either way, the GLA is better value and, gearbox aside, drives nearly as well.

Car Reviews | Volvo XC40 D4 AWD | CompleteCar.ie
Volvo XC40 vs. Mercedes-Benz GLA 200 d (2020): the Volvo is one of our favourite small SUVs, though it's not as interesting to drive as the Mercedes, and a bit more expensive like-for-like. Arguably worth it...

Tech Specs

Model testedMercedes-Benz GLA 200 d AMG Line
PricingGLA from €40,320; GLA 200 d from €42,715
Engine2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmissioneight-speed, dual-clutch automatic, front-wheel drive
Body styleSUV/crossover
CO2 emissions121g/km (Band B1 - €270 per annum)
Fuel economy58.8-61.4mpg (4.8-4.6 litres/100km)
Top speed208km/h
0-100km/h8.6 seconds
Power150hp at 3,400-4,400rpm
Torque320Nm at 1,400-3,200rpm
Boot space435-1,430 litres