The GLA is Mercedes-Benz’s smallest SUV, a mini-SUV/crossover that I had a chance to test drive in early August 2014. This small crossover is a luxury car buyer´s choice if you want something different than a BMW X1 or the Audi Q3.

Mercedes market this as an SUV but we all know that this kind of car will probably never be driven beyond paved roads. However, if you decide to take this car offroad or drive it in harsh conditions be assured that it will be able to cope. At least as long as you equip it with the offroad package rather than the stylish AMG wheels and spoilers. Popular Mechanics wrote in mid-February 2014 that the Mercedes GLA is The Unexpected Offroader and that is so true. 

Specification
GLA 220 CDI means that the 2,1 inline four cylinder diesel engine is generating 170 PS and 350 Nm. The power is distributed to the wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission (7G-DCT). The Style-line equipment package was applied on the tested car: Style-Line is an option in Germany but has been the basic level of cars sold in Sweden. Style-Line gives the characteristic GLA SUV attributes; the bulkier looking front spoiler and rear bumpers and interior which has part-art leather upholstery. 17-inch aluminum wheels are standard on all models. Price as tested: 394.750 SEK incl. these options:

  • Active Parking Assistant
  • Storage package
  • Preparation for Becker MAP PILOT navigation
  • Hitch with ESP trailer stabilization
  • Lighting and Visibility package

Notes on the options:
Parking Assistant is a must in GLA. If you do not buy the option, you will swear every time you back off. C-pillar is thick and it is impossible to see what is hidden behind the car.

Navigation is a must if you’re driving on unfamiliar roads or if you drive around a lot in city traffic where you want to keep track of how your drive rather than looking for street signs. Navigation is also good if you want to tryout the offroad characteristics of your GLA.

Tow hitch, you have to choose this if you plan to use your mini-SUV to load large or rugged things. The load area is okay but not more. You do get a decent amount of vertical depth in the cargo area. There spare is replaced by a compressor kit mounted beneath the floor.

Lighting package on the tested car was basically sun visors with illuminated mirrors, rain sensor wipers and illuminated scuff plates. So you will have to pay extra if you want the fancy LED DRL oops and xenon. Fog lights also costs a couple of thousands extra.

One option that you should consider is the suspension for greater ground clearance. An SUV should be able to run over large stones, able to handle run down wet gravel roads and to run off the road without tearing things underneath. A higher ground clearance is an extra insurance against unwanted repair bills.

The main test drive took place both small and large asphalt roads with a detour on a gravel road. The gravel road offered the opportunity to get feel for how GLA behave on slippery surfaces.

Driving experience
The steering is just the right bit doughy and in 40-50 km/h it is possible to crank the steering wheel a lot without car dash off to either side. Weak sense of control was my first impression, the car felt forgiving. It is reassuring to know this if you should be texting and driving or look at the scenery for too long.

Room for everyone
When it was time to record the video and take pictures I tried the back seat. Otherwise, it is something I usually skip. I never sit there myself but for your sake I’ll tell you how it went: It went well. I did not hit my head on the ceiling and my hearty 185 cm / 105 kg was somewhat easy to squeeze in behind my own driving position. The backseat is far from spacious and is best suited for small children or adults on shorter journeys.

Exterior sculpting
Mercedes-Benz GLA is a car that you can look at from different angles and get a new idea of how the car looks when you walk around it. to look at. From the high side headlight, turn signals during the operation, runs a fold back down to about the middle of the rear doors. Behind is a marked shoulder pain that starts in the upper corner of the rear light and find their way to the B-pillar, a few inches above the crease from the front.

The exterior lines on the GLA is similar to those found on the larger and more luxurious CLS model. The angular folds that you see on the Mercedes GLK you will not find on the GLA. The front is additionally kinder in his countenance than the GLK’s nose pile up. Then it’s kinder ML GLA front.

Is it a Volvo?
Mercedes-Benz is an interesting automakers because they present so many models on their platforms. GLA based e.g. the A-class and do not you want hatchback look, you choose the sedan CLA. GLA select as the prompt to have a Mercedes-Benz and that like the SUV trend.

That this is a Mercedes-Benz, there is no doubt at all, as long as you do not see the angle from behind. During the test drive, I was overtaken by a Volvo V40 CrossCountry the same color. Oh how they are alike!

With the untrained eye and without a first track of the star in front, it is difficult to identify the GLA as a Mercedes. A hatchback of this size is far from the big sedans and full-size SUV models, we are accustomed to associate with Mercedes.

GLA vs. competitors
Mercedes GLA is like many other new cars; easy to drive and responsive. I have previously driven BMW X1 and the GLA I experienced as more likable, more rounded at the corners and not as pointed in its image. What the terms mean, I can not explain, it’s just words how I felt when I ran the mini-SUV GLA. One thing that differed from GLA X1 and also from the GLK was the feeling of sitting inside the car. A-pillars leaned more and SUV feeling never appeared.

BMW X1 and Audi Q3 are GLA’s closest competitors. There are two cars with more pronounced SUV profiling. GLA is more restrained and good for those who want to combine some SUV characteristics with city traffic and long mil. The car does not stand out at all in the traffic picture in the same way as X1 and Q3. It must be added that the Audi Q3 has not yet been tested by yours truly.