The second generation GLA is a vast improvement on the original. Despite wearing a ‘GL’ (off roader) badge Merc’s baby SUV was nothing more than a styled up and cramped variation of the last generation A Class hatchback; think Rover 25 and ‘Rover 25 Streetwise’.
Funnily enough the new GLA is still based on the A Class but, and its a big but, the new A Class is a vast improvement on the old car. The new GLA is more a crossover SUV than something you’d actually take off road but at least now it looks more the part. As for those looks… bugles and curves are present and look good but there is also a lot of fakery and nonsense like exhausts pipes that are fake and air vents – again fake – but hey ho such is the nature of exterior styling. The GLA looks imposing but has surprisingly compact proportions: Its 14mm shorter, 2mm narrower and 104mm taller than the car it replaces. It also has shorter front and rear overhangs and this stats all combine to deliver a more chunky, solid stance.
In the cabin is considerably more space and it feels like a proper sized car. The current A Class lends a lot of bits and pieces to the GLA as you’d expect. Gone are the driver’s dials and single centre dash digital display and in comes the one-piece flush digital dash from the new A Class. This unit is impressive; FYI the housing is one piece with two separate two displays in it. The display, air vents, materials and switchgear used in the GLA are all good quality with only the odd bit of hard plastic to be found. The GLA’s taller roof has a positive knock-on affect in terms of cabin ambiance. The increased headroom and ‘taller than the A Class’ driving position really adds a sense of SUV-ness – I may have made that word up!
On the road the GLA is unremarkable. It makes adequate progress and is relatively easy to use. It feels like a big car behind the wheel yet takes up a modest amount of road space. It goes and stops well with an additional push on the brake pedal when stopped adding the ‘brake hold’ function that is handy in stop start traffic. Is it dynamic? No. Would its driving performance encourage me to take the long way home? No. Do I feel good behind the wheel… perhaps the most important question with a premium product? Yes. The GLA delivers on the ‘Merc-ness (I’m at it again! sorry) that so many buyers love and enjoy. The GLA is quite practical too with a 435 litre boot (to the shelf) – expandable to 1,430 litres and seating for five.
Our test car is the GLA 200 D automatic. The Diesel engine produces 150hp and 320nm. 0-100km/h takes 8.6 seconds and it has a top speed of 208km/h. Fuel consumption is quoted at 4.6-4.8L/100km and emissions are 121g/CO2 (Band B1). The 200D has a base price of €42,715. Notable standard fit ADAS driver and safety assist systems include active brakes assist and active lane keeping (Merc’s is particularly aggressive – and quite intrusive). We had the optional AMG-Line kit on our car (€3,130)and this makes the GLA look extra smart and slightly aggressive. Also added were metallic paint (€1,198), rear seats with a sliding function (€684) and the ‘Advantage’ pack: 10.25 inch head unit display, MB hard disc Navigation, Mirror package and Parking package (€3,548) – All in €51,275.
The engine range in Ireland features petrol and diesel models. Petrol engines start with a 1332cc, 163hp 200, the 250 and 250 4Matic (AWD) are powered by a 2 litre engine with 224hp. The Diesel range are 2 litre with various power and drive outputs. The 180d has 116hp, 200d and 200d 4Matic – 150hp, the 220d and 220d 4Matic deliver 140hp.
There are niggles like the lack of regular USB sockets (my test car had four USB Cs), a lack of dynamic driving involvment and the sometimes glitchy “Hey Mercedes” voice activation function that can unwittingly interrupt a human conversations if it hears a ‘Hey’ or even ‘A’ spoken during a chat.