From £26,2207
Latest version of Merc's soft roader is quick, frugal and well priced: but beware the ride comfort of AMG Line models

What is it?

Until the arrival of the nutty GLA45 AMG in June, this petrol-powered GLA250 4Matic is the most powerful version of Mercedes-Benz’s junior crossover-meets-SUV creation you can buy.

To be frank, the Mercedes-Benz GLA is far more crossover than it is SUV, for although it’s substantially different to the Mercedes-Benz A-Class it retains a relatively low stance on the road, with a narrow glasshouse and, to these eyes at any rate, an attractive appearance from most angles.

The ‘250’ is powered by the new-gen, four-cylinder turbo engine displacing 2.0-litres, in this guise pumping out an impressive 208bhp and 258lb ft of torque. A quick comparison with the obvious rivals shows that although Audi’s brawniest 2.0 TFSI Audi Q3 pegs it exactly on power output, the GLA has a clear torque advantage, and easily humbles BMW’s 182bhp 2.0i BMW X1 on both counts.

What's it like?

The engine’s ample torque makes predictably light work of surging the GLA forwards, although its initial overtaking potential is blunted slightly by the mild lethargy of the seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox. It improves in Sport and Manual modes, but is hardly enthusiastic about the task, and you soon tire of using the tiny paddles.

Although possessing a softer basic setup than the A-Class hatchback, the combination of AMG Line ‘sports’ suspension, a 15mm ride height drop and optional 19-inch alloy wheels imbues this GLA with a wooden, agitated ride quality that never settles.

It’s particularly annoying over small ridges in the road, which thwack into the cabin with a tiresome jolt and generate surprising amounts of noise in the process, something unfortunately complemented by plenty of road roar on most surfaces. The trade off dynamically doesn’t add up, for although the GLA has nicely balanced handling, with predictably good traction and well-weighted, accurate – if typically mute – steering, it’s no performance car.

Thankfully, a quick comparative drive in a GLA250 SE with 18inch wheels and standard suspension revealed a car that rides with a relaxed, long-legged gait and much improved bump absorption. Although the torquey motor exhausts the limits of grip fairly easily, and there’s noticeable body roll at times, the overall compromise far better suits the broad mix of qualities and appeal of a crossover. 

Even though an off-road bound GLA will be a rarity, all 4Matic GLAs feature standard Hill Descent Control and an off-road setting for the engine and gearbox, in addition to improved ground clearance.

Inside, the cabin is attractively styled and sportily cosy, even if the quality of some materials is rather average on closer inspection. Space on the rear pew is adequate but rather claustrophobic, and you’ll want to avoid the short straw of sitting in the middle. Boot volume is acceptable, but nothing more.

Should I buy one?

Lighter than its obvious German rivals, as well as more powerful, the GLA250 is both cleaner and more frugal, with an impressive combined fuel consumption of 42.8mpg and CO2 emissions of 154g/km. It’s also cheaper than the S-line and M Sport competition.

At first glance the GLA250 might seem like a sub-niche too far, and in truth in AMG Line specification that might be true. But the overall package is a subtly strong one, particularly in SE guise.

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Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic AMG Line

Price £30,495; 0-62mph 7.1sec; Top speed 143mph; Economy 42.8mpg; Co2 154g/km; Kerbweight 1505kg; Engine 4cyl turbo petrol, 1991cc; Power
 208bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 258lb ft at 1200-4000rpm; Gearbox 7-speed twin clutch

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AV 30 March 2014


It's a Dacia Sandero Stepway
Suzuki QT 28 March 2014

Hmmm ...

Why does Mercedes-Benz insist on sticking its ridiculous "infotainment/media/sat nav" screen, with its WIDE bezel, on the centre console rather than build it in? ... The system on the Up!/Citigo/Mii looks far more upmarket (and that's asying something) ...
catnip 27 March 2014

In most respects I think the

In most respects I think the GLA is superior to the A-Class, which always seems to come across as a disappointment, and I don't think would command half the attention if it didn't wear a Mercedes badge.