It’s easier to take a brand downmarket than to move one upmarket.

That’s a long-accepted rule of marketing and one recently applied so widely in the car industry that every premium car maker is diversifying into niches that, a decade ago, they wouldn’t have dreamed of – or hadn’t yet dreamed up.

The likes of Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW would never admit that by introducing all-new smaller, cheaper models in greater numbers than larger, more expensive ones, they are moving downmarket. But that, over time, is precisely what’s happening.

The latest area seemingly ripe for expansion is the crossover SUV sector, which Mercedes-Benz is dropping into with this, the GLA – a car based on the same architecture as its A-Class hatch and CLA saloon. Call it necessity.

The old A-Class had a super-intelligent platform that allowed the car to be brilliantly and uniquely packaged; this one lets Mercedes make more models and more money.

Those spawned models, though, haven’t entirely convinced us so far. Will the GLA prove to be any different? We’ve dedicated this review to finding out.

Top 5 Crossovers

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Mercedes-Benz range

Driven this week

  • Citroën C4 Grand Picasso
    First Drive
    26 August 2016
    The Citroën Grand C4 Picasso gets tweaked styling, improved tech and new personalisation options to keep it ahead of rivals
  • Car review
    26 August 2016
    Wolfsburg celebrates the GTI’s 40th with its most extreme version yet
  • Kia Optima Sportwagon
    First Drive
    25 August 2016
    New Kia estate looks the part, has good space and handles tidily, but its engine's flexibility and refinement let it down
  •  Kia Optima PHEV
    First Drive
    25 August 2016
    Plug-in hybrid Optima is a practical, tax-efficient PHEV that undercuts rivals and fulfils its main remit well, but keen drivers need not apply
  • Lamborghini Huracán LP610-4 Spyder
    First Drive
    24 August 2016
    Awful driving position aside, drop-top Huracán handles UK roads well. It's more dynamically rounded than its rangemates, but lacks rivals' handling bite