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

  • Nissan Qashqai
    The Nissan Qashqai gets a new look and more functionality in an effort to attract a new generation of buyers

    Nissan Qashqai

    1
  • Ford Kuga
    Ford's targeting a class above with its bigger Kuga

    Ford Kuga

    2
  • The second generation BMW X1

    BMW X1

    3
  • Skoda Yeti
    The Yeti is a crossover that's available with both two- and four-wheel drive

    Skoda Yeti

    4
  • Mazda CX-5
    CX-5's exterior has been shaped using Mazda's 'Kodo - soul of motion' design

    Mazda CX-5

    5

First drives

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