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Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Estate verdict

2014 - 2020 (change model)
Parkers overall rating: 3.7 out of 53.7

Written by James Dennison Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 22 May 2020

Should you buy a Mercedes-Benz GLA?

Cars with an SUV look are big business, even if they don’t really offer the capability of an off-roader. It’s into this category that the Mercedes-Benz GLA falls, being based on the A-Class but with a raised ride height and chunky cladding. Rivals, such as the Audi Q2, BMW X2 and Range Rover Evoque, are all better to drive and come with a nicer interior, but at least the GLA’s relatively compact proportions means it’s still easy to pilot.

One major point worth bearing in mind is that the GLA is based on the previous-generation A-Class. This means it does without the refinements that have been applied to its current hatchback cousin – in particular the vastly improved interior and sophisticated infotainment.

Due to the older technology beneath, opting for the GLA is in many ways a downgrade from the A-Class, but without paying a lower price. Taken on its own, though, the GLA could still prove a compelling package for many, especially if there are any deals to be had. For starters, it has a chunky look that’s less aggressively butch than many compact SUVs. It’s also roomier than the A-Class it’s based on, with more boot space and rear legroom, making it a better choice for families.

‘An ageing entrant into the niche premium crossover market, the GLA still carries the requisite badge appeal, but make no mistake, rival cars from BMW and Audi now have the edge.’

James Dennison

The GLA is easy to drive, and is fairly comfortable on the road. There’s a reasonable choice of petrol and diesel engines – even if the latter is now only available on the second-hand market – although none of them are spectacular in the first place and feel a little old now. We’d recommend the GLA 200 petrol for most buyers, though those with a high annual mileage would be better served by the efficient GLA 220 d.

Aside from the engines and trim, specifying a GLA can be tricky, with numerous optional extras and specification packs that can quickly see the price ramp up. For this reason we’d suggest opting for AMG Line Edition trim, which brings most of the equipment you’ll need. It can be supplemented by the Plus equipment line to fill in the gaps, too. Those considering the (now discontinued) AMG-fettled GLA 45 likely won’t be swayed by lesser models in the range.

When it comes to buying, Mercedes’ dealer network is extensive, but expect to pay premium prices for servicing and maintenance. The GLA is a divisive car, and it wouldn’t be our first choice in this sector any more – we’d rather a BMW X1, or lose the SUV additions and opt for a much more modern A-Class hatchback instead.

Mercedes-Benz GLA rear 2017

Read more:

>>Small SUVs group test

>> Need something bigger? How about the seven-seat GLB?

>> Read about this generation’s replacement: the 2020 GLA