What is it?
This is the car the Mercedes-Benz GLA should have been all along. The first-generation model was, for budgetary reasons, heavily based on the A-class hatch – and it showed. This new one, however, has been granted greater engineering freedom, and is a much more convincing effort.
Bucking an industry trend, it’s also shorter than the car it replaces, though width and height are up, giving the second-gen GLA even more crossover-esque proportions and a larger footprint than either the BMW X2 or Audi Q2.
Having been impressed by the top-of-the-line GLA 250 petrol, what we have here is the 220d, which is the more powerful of two diesel models confirmed so far. It uses the turbocharged OM654 2.0-litre engine found in so many Mercedes cars, and with 188bhp and 295lb ft is certainly not lacking for output by class standard, developing 40bhp and 56lb ft more than the same engine in the detuned GLA 200d. It’s not without competition, though: the more powerful of Audi’s Q2 2.0 TDI models gets the same levels of power and torque – exactly the same, in fact.
This engine is paired with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox built-in-house. To this, the range-topper adds a newly developed 4Matic four-wheel-drive system with electromechanical (instead of the hydraulic) operation as well as more pronounced apportioning of drive to each axle. As much as 80% of torque can be delivered to the front while up to 70% can go rearwards. There’s also a dedicated off-road mode, where the driveline runs a 50:50 split.