Us humans love to find fault in everything. It’s just how we are. But I guarantee you, you will NOT find an angle from which the Mercedes-Benz GLA doesn’t look athletic. Every section of this compact SUV has been carefully designed and it shows in the dynamic edges found on every panel, making it look a lot like a sports coupé.
Is Mercedes-Benz GLA a SUV?
It is primarily a pumped up version of the A-class so (somewhat disappointingly) some of the character traits have been carried over to the GLA.
Mercedes claim this is a small SUV. Yes, at first glance you would say that. But upon closer inspection you realise the ground clearance isn’t that great – in fact, it’s less than that of a Vauxhall Astra! Most GLA’s do come with 4 wheel drive as standard and more height than the A Class.
The interior in any Mercedes has always seemed like a bit of an afterthought to me, which is strange considering that is where we spend almost all of our time when driving!
The AMG sport seats with integrated headrests are super stylish and comfortable, having the gear stick behind the steering wheel on automatic models saves a lot of space and the sports pedal are very attractive. But having the integrated headrests reduces visibility and the space where the gear stick should be is filled with cheap plastic and the dash isn’t flush to the doors. It looks like it has been taken straight from the A-class with no modification to fit the bigger GLA, bringing down the overall look of the interior.
It may be full of cheap plastic but it has more storage than you know what do with. One small and one medium storage unit where the gear stick should be, two cup holders in the front, an adjustable armrest which reveals a larger storage space and the storage bins in the doors are huge! And just in front of that storage bin on the driver door is a boot release which is very handy.
The boot is 40% larger than the A class, bigger than that of an Audi Q3 or BMW X1, but there is still a lip to lift items over.
All models of the Mercedes-Benz GLA do come with a powered tailgate which, personally, I LOVE! Some might think it’s laziness but they obviously haven’t tried to lift a tailgate open with heavy shopping bags! Practical – not lazy.
How practical is this “small SUV”?
Well… as I mentioned earlier, ground clearance isn’t great so you might want to avoid going off-road. Visibility is poor – the integrated headrests from the sports seats get in the way for both driver and rear passengers, sweeping pillars from the sporty exterior are large and get very close to your head. And actually it’s rather dark and crammed inside, unless you opt for the £900 optional sunroof which will let in more light and give the illusion of more space.
The rear of the car is no different. With narrow windows, limited visibility and little space kids will definitely give it a thumbs down! Again though, plenty of storage as there is cup holders built-in to the centre arm rest to hold little ones juice
Maybe it’s just me but I can think of a few other things to spend my money on than this.
It is fairly pricey for the quality of car you get. All models come with some nifty tech as standard such as parking sensors and collision prevention assist. This particular model I had also came with a reversing camera, cruise control and electric adjustable memory seats in the front.
Attention to detail comes and goes. I love the illuminating tread plates when you open the doors.
But some parts of interior are made from cheap plastics just like the A-class. The steering is stiff and unresponsive, the dash doesn’t line up flush with the doors, and you need to pay a bit extra to upgrade from the (rather slow) 1.6L petrol up to a diesel engine to get an automatic transmission and 4 wheel drive!
I love this car… to look at. Sorry Mercedes, but I don’t believe you when you say it’s a compact SUV. I still very much feel like I’m in a hatchback when driving the GLA. It has plenty of poise but it really doesn’t set my heart racing as I first thought it would when I looked at it. The agile body is thrilling but that’s about it unfortunately. Unfulfilled potential I’d say. With some improvement I reckon my opinion on this could change!