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. A theory Mercedes has applied to the GLC.

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.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Crossover hatchbacks

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • BMW M5 2018 long-term review hero front
    First Drive
    20 June 2018
    We rate the new M5 as best in class. Will we think the same after three months with it?
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class C200 2018 review hero front
    First Drive
    20 June 2018
    Mild hybrid engine completes an extensive facelift for Mercedes’ fourth-generation junior saloon, but the C200 isn’t the most convincing choice in the line-up
  • Mercedes-AMG C43 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    19 June 2018
    Greater shove and some subtle styling tweaks for the 'baby' AMG C-Class, but the C43 Coupé makes less of a case for itself than the saloon or estate
  • Citroen Berlingo 2018 first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    19 June 2018
    Boxy, slightly quirky van-based car returns to top form in only third iteration in more than two decades
  • Porsche Cayenne 2018 UK first drive review hero front
    First Drive
    19 June 2018
    Performance doesn't come at the expense of comfort and composure in Porsche's mid-range Cayenne