Mercedes-Benz GLA Review

Find out more about the Mercedes-Benz GLA Class in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Well-appointed cabin
  • Fairly unique within the segment
  • Economical

Cons

  • Expensive to buy
  • Styling divides opinion
  • Expensive extra costs
  • MPG

    38 - 44

  • CO2

    144 - 169 g/km

Model Review

The GLA is effectively a jacked up A-Class. However, it is also rather different from its sibling – most notably on the outside where the styling is very much utilitarian. There are chunky black plastics that wrap around the body to give it a beefier crossover look, and the ride height is more than that of the A-Class too – 30mm more in fact.

 Inside, however, it’s very familiar. Everything is lifted across from the A-Class and CLA models. That’s no bad thing though, especially in AMG-Line trim, which is equipped with some lovely Alcantara on the seats. The infotainment system is the same too – as the screen sprouts out of the dashboard.

Latest Model

The GLA was facelifted along with its A-Class counterpart in early 2017. It now has revised front and rear lights, an updated infotainment system and that’s about it. As standard with the base SE trim you get an electric tailgate, 17-inch alloy wheels, Artico leather (man-made to you and me), sat nav and a reversing camera.

The A-Class is set for a revamp soon with an all-new model, so it’s probably safe to say the GLA won’t be far behind it in getting a makeover.

Value for money

As explained, you do get a lot of bang for your buck with the GLA as standard.

Upgrade from SE to Sport and Mercedes adds larger 18-inch alloy wheels, climate control, chrome exhaust pipes and “Dynamic Select”, which allows you to choose several driving modes. If you want LED lighting and extended options for the interior you have to pay a £1,695 premium. You also get a Garmin sat nav system, heated front seats and automatically dimming mirrors.

However, this is where things become pricey. In adding more options, the GLA can become extremely expensive – over £40,000 in fact.

Looks and image

The GLA has fairly similar looks to its sibling the A-Class. However, it is different enough as well. The jacked up stance certainly sets it apart – as do the silver running boards, squared front and rear, and lower window line. In many ways, though, you can think of it as a crossover version of the A-Class.

The image is strong with the GLA. If you specify 4Matic (Mercedes’ four-wheel-drive system) then you can tell people you own an SUV Mercedes – something that gives you extra kudos. Mercedes is a byword for prestige, and the GLA is no exception.

Its fantastic build quality, a solid appearance and lots of technology on offer make it an executive car.

Despite this, the GLA doesn’t have the same appeal as other cars by the brand – chiefly because of value for money. With prices starting at £26,220 and rising beyond the £50,000 marque for a GLA45 AMG, it is very pricey and manages to be more expensive than the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

Space and Practicality

Throughout the cabin, the GLA has plenty of space for four adults to sit comfortably. Unlike the A-Class on which it is based, the GLA seems to have slightly more headroom in the rear. Boot space is plentiful too, with 421 litres with the rear seats in place, and an impressive 1,235 litres with them folded down. This makes it a very practical hatchback that can easily accommodate luggage or help with a trip to the tip.

Engines

There are several engines to choose from including a 2.2-litre diesel with three different power outputs, and two petrol options.

The diesel available is a 2.2-litre turbocharged unit, which is available as a 200d or 220d. The 200d variant produces 134bhp and 300 Nm of torque while also managing 67.3mpg on a combined cycle – although this goes down to 58.7 when the 4Matic four-wheel-drive option is fitted.

The 220d also comes with 2.2-litre turbocharged engine. However, this version develops 175bhp, has 350 Nm of torque and manages 58.9mpg on the combined cycle.

The first petrol engine is badged as a GLA 200. It’s rather surprising to find it hasn’t got a 2.0-litre but instead a 1.6-litre engine. This develops 154bhp, 250 Nm of torque and manages between 48.7 and 50.4mpg on the combined cycle depending on whether you opt for the manual or automatic gearbox.

The GLA 250 4Matic comes with a 2.0-litre petrol engine that churns out 208bhp, 350 Nm of torque and achieves 43.5mpg on the combined cycle because of its all-wheel-drive system.

If it’s speed and controlled madness you’re after, then the GLA 45 AMG is the car for you. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, it develops a whopping 378bhp with 475 Nm of torque – meaning a 0-60mph time of just 4.2 seconds. However, despite its power and torque figures, the 45 AMG manages some reasonable frugality – achieving 38.2mpg on a combined cycle.

The GLA 45 AMG and 250 are only available with a seven-speed automatic gearbox, while the GLA 300d, 220d and 200 modes are available with either a seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual gearbox.

Running Costs

Many people buy their cars via finance or leasing deals these days, and when you consider that maintenance can often be included in these deals, then it makes sense. However, if you are buying one brand new or second hand, there are a few things to be careful of.

Many main dealers offer a service plan that will cost £81 per month for 12 months cover or £106 per month if you opt for a GLA 45 AMG

A bonus of having your GLA maintained by a Mercedes dealer is that it preserves the 30-year paintwork and bodywork guarantee that every Mercedes comes with. If you have corrosion later on but have taken it to a normal garage, this warranty can be voided.

If buying second hand, servicing can be done at a specialist. This means they use genuine manufacturer parts but at a fraction of the cost. We found a specialist that would carry out a service for £198 and any necessary parts carry a two-year warranty.

Things to look out for

The GLA isn’t without its faults. Some owners have had issues with the stop/start system, which seems to stop working. One owner reported that they had to visit their local Mercedes dealership twice before the problem was rectified. Other issues reported include software glitches and total failure of the electric tailgate.

Mercedes also issued a recall for diesel models to have a software update. If you are considering a GLA second hand, then make sure the work was carried out.

Rivals

The Mercedes GLA faces a fierce battle in this segment of the market, battling against the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.

The Audi may offer a slightly more desirable package, chiefly because it starts at nearly £2,000 less than the Mercedes. However, you don’t get leather seats as standard or an electric tailgate. What it lacks in equipment it makes up for in practicality, having nearly 100 litres more boot space than the Mercedes with the rear seats folded down.

The BMW X1 also undercuts the GLA on price, and has also been recently facelifted too. It also has much more space in the boot with an impressive 505 litres with the rear seats in place. It also feels more engaging to drive than the Mercedes, especially the steering, which can feel a tad lacklustre in the Mercedes.

One ace the Mercedes does have up its sleeve in comparison to these two, however, is that a performance variant – the GLA 45 AMG is available. They also lack the prestige a Mercedes badge seems to bring.

Depreciation

The GLA doesn’t seem to hold its value very well. We found an example that was just a year old with 17,000 miles on the clock for £20,000. That means in just 12 months it has lost more than a third of its value.

However, this also makes it a used bargain. A premium crossover for under £20,000 with plenty of equipment on it is not to be sniffed at.

The GLA45 AMG costs from £47,220. Add some extras and this can easily go over £50,000. We found a 2016 model with just 6,500 miles on the clock for £35,000. That means it has lost almost £15,000 in value in just 12 months – a considerable amount of money.

Again this makes it a used car bargain, but for those buying one brand new it is worth considering that depreciation can be considerable.

Which GLA Class to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

GLA 180 Urban Edition 5dr

Most MPG

GLA 180 Urban Edition 5dr Auto

Fastest Model (0-60)

GLA 250 4Matic AMG Line Edition 5dr Auto

Trims Explained

The GLA has no less than six trims to choose from. These include SE, Sport, AMG Line, WhiteArt Edition, the GLA 45 AMG and the GLA45 Yellow Night Edition.

SE

The SE is the base model but comes with plenty as standard.

These include 17-inch alloy wheels, Artico leather, sat nav and cruise control, to name a few.

AMG Line

Upgrade two more trim levels to AMG Line, however, and things become slightly more interesting.

For a start the exterior differs quite significantly, gone are all the curves of the front apron replaced with more angular and masculine body panels. The chunkier 19-inch alloys add sportiness to the looks too as do the LED headlamps. Inside the seats are finished in a mix of Artico leather and Alcantara faux suede

WhiteArt Edition

The WhiteArt edition adds different 19-inch alloy wheels, black exterior trim instead of chrome, paintwork available in either polar white, cosmos black, mountain grey or polar silver, along with the option of matt painted decals.

There is also privacy glass, special floor mats and an upgraded Garmin sat nav.

GLA 45 AMG

The next level is the GLA 45 AMG. As well as that powerful engine, the exterior is quite different. You get an AMG bodykit that consists of a titanium radiator grille, louvres on the bonnet and beefier styling on the doors.

You have upgraded AMG brakes, quad AMG exhausts, sports seats and the option of several driving modes.

GLA 45 AMG Yellow Night Edition

As well as the standard kit on the normal 45 you also get black 20-inch alloy wheels with a yellow rim, yellow highlights and accenting across the bodywork and interior, a yellow rear-wing, black leather seats with yellow stitching, Harmon Kardon sound system and a panoramic sunroof to name a few.

This model is the top spec car in the range.

Summary

  1. Utilitarian looks
  2. Well equipped
  3. Can be expensive to buy
  4. Needs an update
  5. The GLA had some recalls
  6. Good used car options
  7. Plenty of engine choices
  8. Can be costly to run
  9. Up against high quality competition
  10. Lots of trim levels to choose from

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