by Brian Byrne.
With the substantial increase in the number of Mercedes-Benz models over the last decade, I’m getting to review examples from the brand quite a lot. And though the GLA compact crossover has been around for long enough that I have driven it a number of times, it is always worth taking another turn in.
In this case it’s the second generation, arrived here just this year. Though shorter and narrower than its predecessor, there’s a longer wheelbase which gives more space inside. There’s more elbow and shoulder room, and with more than 4″ of extra height, it is one of those cars that thankfully I can get in and out of without having to duck or scrape.
The car attracted a share of attention from the regulars who like to see what’s parked outside my house. Deservedly so, I think, because it looks very substantial. The new front end is a mix of restrained and forceful, the large Merc star logo on the grille making an unmistakable statement. The chrome pins effect on the grille is also an interesting visual feature.
It is sleeker than its related GLB which I reviewed a little while ago, a largish hatchback rather than an SUV in theme. For that it will garner its own share of buyer interest, who will like the space without having to have the relative bulk. Of course, the GLB is a 7-seater, this one is only available with five passenger spaces.
The interior is all about current M-B thinking. Good materials, a bit of upmarket pizzaz in the design, that MBUX interface with all the information that anyone would need, more than most would. But it looks great, and nobody can gainsay how well they have integrated everything.
I’ve mentioned the roominess, which is real. There’s also, despite the shortening, a good boot capacity. No spare, just the emergency gunk machine. But, at the risk of tempting fate, it does seem that punctures are much less of an issue these days.
My review car was the GLA 200d AMG Line grade. In addition to all the usual trimmings and tech it had a a plethora of AMG-type detailing. In the black metallic paint job, these included bespoke front and rear apron styling which looked more subtle than in a brighter colour. I quite liked subtle. The artificial leather in grey and black suited.
In the drive department, the car had the 150hp 2.0 diesel which provides a decent 8.6s acceleration to 100km/h if you want it. It’s automatic too. Pressure it and you’ll hear it, but most of the time it remains a gentle background.
There’s a drive mode selector, as usual Sport tightening the experience while Comfort is right for most of the time. I find myself only trying out these things — including stuff like self-parking — rather than using them in general motoring. I still prefer to parallel park on my own, for instance.
Goes without saying that the ride and handling as experienced in my normal use was exemplary. Even with the extra height — which includes a higher ground clearance — it never felt as if there would be stability issues.
It isn’t for everyone; it does, after all, have a Merc price tag. But there’s a good argument that it’s worth the money. In the overall sales mix of Mercedes-Benz here it’s a small element, but part of making the brand accessible to as many as possible.
PRICE: AMG Line from €42,715; Review car with extras: €52,082. WHAT I LIKED: Has all you need to feel premium in a compact car.