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Top-ranking turbodiesel offers 50mpg and much-improved road-manners
22 May 2020

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.

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What's it like?

On the move, the GLA220d 4Matic delivers a good deal of torque-infused flexibility and vigor, both around town and out on the open road. It is not particularly engaging, and neither is it totally free of diesel chatter, but the latest incarnation of Mercedes’ four-cylinder diesel offers a good deal of accessible performance that, with the wide spread of ratios from the new gearbox, sees it provide strong off-the-line acceleration and excellent cruising qualities.

The handling is also fairly accomplished, with a light but precise feel to the electromechanical steering and good body control with limited roll angles for a car of this type. There’s also plenty of grip and traction. The experience is hardly peppered with feedback, but there is a general cohesiveness and well weighted consistency that make the GLA 220d easy and carefree to drive.

The ride is also much better resolved than with the original. There’s a well-damped firmness to the suspension, which is evident in all of Mercedes’ compact car models these days. However, it absorbs nasty intrusions well when combined with the optional adaptive damping control and the 60-section tyres fitted to our test car. Road noise is also well isolated from the cabin. In this respect, the GLA is a quieter and more refined car than before.

The on-road character can be further altered via the Dynamic Select function, which now offers a broader range of qualities. There’s greater comfort at one end of the scale and added agility at the other compared to the old GLA.

Should I buy one?

Ultimately, this is an attractive ownership proposition with a level of everyday practicality beyond that of the A-class hatchback. The GLA 220d 4Matic will suit buyers who intend to pile on the miles and are looking for the added handling security of fourwheel drive.

However, those who find themselves more urban-bound are likely to be better served by one of the three petrol and two diesel models in the initial line-up that are solely front-driven. If that’s not enough, there’s also a plug-in hybrid and full electric variant on the way, too.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d 4Matic specification

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Where Stuttgart, Germany Price £38,165 On sale now Engine 4 cyls in-line, 1950cc, turbocharged, diesel Power 188bhp at 3800rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1600-2600rpm Gearbox 8-spd dual-clutch automatic Kerb weight 1540kg Top speed 136mph 0-62mph 7.3sec Fuel economy 49.6mpg CO2 149g/km Rivals Audi Q2, BMW X2, Lexus UX

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Comments
6

22 May 2020

My wife ran a GLA and after looking at the new model went off and bought something else. The GLA was never popular with the press or Autocar readers but it was loved by the owners because it wasnt a big SUV and didn't fell like one around town. It did however have a just high enough body to make getting in and out easier for families and to give confidence driving in towns increasingly dominated by proper SUVs.

I doubt anyone at Autocar will recognise it but current owners that I've spoken to aren't keen  on the new GLA (or the GLB)

22 May 2020

First of all Mercedes couldnt be bothered to sell me a 6th Mercedes. They knew when the contract ended and made one attempted to contact me but never followed up with the info i needed. When I saw the new GLA i knew it wasnt for me. Apparently the sales director at the dealership thinks its really hard to convert PCP customers to new cars. But they never even tried even when the hand back process was going through. If the car doesnt sell im sure they wont blame the photocopy design (my turn off) or the dealers inability to do customer service. I bet HQ will never find out why I never got a 6th Mercedes (with at least 3 factory orders) they just dont care enough. Customer feedback always ignored again and other excuses used to justify poor sales all around.

22 May 2020

 Not the Garage, it's the salesperson, I've had one who couldn't do enough, kept us informed about the cars production, where it was, even got to a call to look at it before it was all cleaned and polished up after its arrival at the Garage, another, was just doing the job, going the routine, no friendly chit chat, didn't even discuss what interior, just took it for granted we'd just want the same, never heard from him since February, ok, been on furlough, but, there's bound to a skeleton staff in now who would have info on stock coming into the UK.

22 May 2020
I prefer the new GLA it looks more like a 4x4 and not a jacked up hatchback . I also (whisper it) like the GLB not quite enough mini G class but going in the right direction .

22 May 2020

this mercs grate! id love one out of my price range tho!!!

28 May 2020

This motor is combined with another eight-speed programmed gearbox worked in-house. 

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