Small crossovers are more popular than ever, so Mercedes-Benz decided to have a second go at the smallest crossover. Dubbed the GLA, is it somewhat of a small G Wagon?

We’ve driven the Mercedes-Benz A-Class in many shapes, sizes, and with all sorts of engines, but had yet to drive its bigger sibling; the GLA 200d. Bigger? Yes, the GLA is bigger than the current A-Class despite it being on the same platform. It’s higher and wider, but a tiny bit shorter. That height difference is a game-changer compared to the previous generation. Measuring almost 18 centimeters in height more than the A-Class, it no longer feels like a heightened version of that car. No, the new GLA is a car that seems to share very little with its no-crossover sibling.

GLA 200d

What is it?

This GLA 200d is a crossover pretending to be an SUV, but that isn’t a bad thing. Why else would this segment be so damn popular? There’s plenty of brands that offer this recipe, yet Mercedes-Benz is cooking a premium dish out of it. The brand served me a front-wheel-drive meal, but they’ll cook it a bit longer to get that all-wheel-drive taste for you. That is, As long as you pay the extra 4k in euros.

Measuring in at 4410mm in length, 1834mm in width, and 1616mm in height, this GLA is a direct competitor to the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. Yet Mercedes has designed the car to appear smaller than those two. It’s when you open the doors that you realize the GLA isn’t that tiny at all. Lines that form the front can be seen as cute, while the side and back are more masculine to look at. Just don’t lay eyes on the abundance of plastic used on the lower part of the side profile, it seems like something went wrong there.

The engine any good?

If you’ve been with us for a while, you know I have a sweet spot for diesel engines. Especially ones mated to a good transmission and with creamy torque to top it off. This GLA 200d hits the sweet spot and I wasn’t expecting that. That DCT could be a bit sluggish but not anymore. Overall the drivetrain feels premium, unlike the drivetrain in the A-Class Sedan Nick, drove earlier this year.

Mercedes-Benz made proper work of this engine, and it shows. Offering 150 hp and 320 Nm, the diesel engine has an eagerness to deliver power. Slap the car into ‘Sport’ and the drivetrain almost feels like a petrol one. The torque in its abundance makes the GLA 200d feel quicker than it is. Don’t get me wrong though, the 8,6 seconds sprint to 100 is a very acceptable performance. Despite this eagerness, the engine managed to average an impressive consumption of 4.9l/100 km.

No 35, but a deeper dive.

So Mercedes-Benz their PR manager ruined the first day with the car for me. Why? Cause I drove the GLA 35 version earlier this year and was expecting that brilliant spring rate again. Admittedly I shouldn’t have been expecting that hard of damping on the GLA 200d, it’s no hot crossover after all.
The second day it sank in: this car is a damn comfortable all-rounder that you shouldn’t trash over roundabouts like there’s no tomorrow. Chassis response is very predictable and safe, no matter how hard you are driving it. Imperfections on the road are filtered out properly, even the Belgium ones.

Inside still tiny?

Recall the height difference compared to the A-Class? It shows! The GLA is spacious, tremendously so. Seating front and back gives off that SUV-feel: high, upright. These are needed though, as the dashboard is awkwardly tall. Like you have to look over a tiny hill to see the road. A hill that is decorated with the most beautiful, and most user-friendly infotainment system currently on the market. There is a tiny downside to all the space for the occupants though, that being the relatively small trunk. It measures 435 liters, dozens less than the competition.

Residing in Mercedes-Benz models rarely is a punishment, with this Mercedes-Benz GLA 200d being no different. Premium is what the brand does well, and it shows in everything you touch and see. Like 75% of the buyers go for, the car I drove had the AMG package on the in- and outside. That ups the premium feel even more, with things like the steering wheel and red stitching. A must? It is if you ask me.

Concluding

I might have pulled you into reading this review by comparing the GLA with a G Wagon, so I feel obliged to conclude the article in that fashion. The Mercedes-Benz hierarchy is a long one, that means going from the GLA up to a G Wagon (review here) takes a while. There’s the GLB, GLC, GLC Coupe, GLE (review here), GLE Coupe, and GLS (review here) between those two. The higher you go, the more off-road capabilities are bestowed onto the models. The GLA sadly comes nowhere near what the G Wagon can do. Similarities are only the badge, the letter G in the name, but that isn’t a bad thing. No, the GLA is a very well composed crossover that will thrive in the urban jungle. It gives you a tiny bit of G-Wagon-feel by the way it seats you, and through the way, it looks off-road-ish. If sophistication is your thing and you want to spend 45.000 euros on a crossover, look no further.