The Mercedes Benz GLA – Does it beat Audi and BMW?

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Mercedes would be the last company one would think might built a hatchback sized car. But, it has. However, the Mercedes GLA looks sleeker than rivals such as the Audi Q3.

The GLA promises lower running costs, too, whether you choose a petrol engine or a diesel, and it comes loaded with safety kit.

Here’s a list of pros and cons.

Space in the Mercedes Benz GLA

If you’re after a car that’s great for carrying the family and their clobber then you should probably look elsewhere.

While there’s plenty of space in the front of the GLA, headroom is quite limited in the back. And the awkwardly-shaped rear door openings mean you have to be careful to avoid hurting your head when getting in and out.

The boot could also be more practical; it’s easily big enough to take a couple of large suitcases, but loading them can be tricky due to the rather small aperture.

At least the rear seats fold flat and there are lots of useful in-car storage spaces.

Comfort in the Mercedes Benz GLA

The GLA is based on the A-class hatchback, which feels rather uncomfortable on most road surfaces. Fortunately, the GLA’s is a much more forgiving car, whether you have the standard suspension, or the slightly firmer setup that’s fitted to AMG Line versions.

Instead, it’s the driving position that can cause discomfort. The steering wheel is a little short on reach adjustment, so taller drivers may find themselves sitting with their arms outstretched. And while the front seats hold you tightly in place in corners, more thigh support would be welcome on long journeys.

The diesel engines sound quite gruff when you’re accelerating, but they quieten down at a steady cruise, and wind and road noise are kept in check.

Dashboard Styling of the Mercedes Benz GLA

You can operate most of the GLA’s functions by scrolling through menus on a colour screen. But while this system is similar to the ones in the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, it takes longer to get to grips with because there are more sub-menus and the shortcut buttons are nowhere near the dial that you use to scroll.

More positively, solid materials and an attractive design give the dashboard an upmarket feel, which is marred only by a screen that looks like it was tacked-on as an afterthought.

Driving Ease of the Mercedes Benz GLA

Light steering and pedals make the GLA easy to drive around town. Plus there are ridges in the bonnet that help you judge where to position the car on the road.

True, narrow rear side windows leave hefty over-the-shoulder blind spots, so changing lanes is harder than it should be. But a reversing camera is standard on all models to help with parking.

The brisk GLA 250 and hilariously fast GLA 45 AMG petrol models complete the lineup. Like the 220d, they come with four-wheel drive and an auto gearbox.

The GLA responds quickly to steering inputs, which makes it feel impressively agile. But its steering is rather numb compared with the BMW X1’s, so it isn’t as fun or reassuring to drive on a winding road.

The GLA also leans over more dramatically than the X1 when you turn into a bend. But there’s plenty of grip, whether you have four-wheel drive or not.

Reliability of the Mercedes Benz GLA

You get the assurance of a warranty that lasts for three years, no matter how many miles you do, whereas Audi covers you only for the first 60,000 miles.

Fuel economy is the GLA’s strongest suit, with every model more efficient than equivalent versions of rivals.

Even the petrol-engined GLA 250 averages more than 40mpg in Government tests, while the 220d manages 55.4mpg and the 200d 62.8mpg. High-40s should be easily achievable in the real world.

Safety in the Mercedes Benz GLA

The Mercedes GLA is bristling with standard safety features, including systems that prevent skids and locked brakes, provide braking assistance in an emergency, and warn if the driver is becoming drowsy.

A system that can detect when an accident is imminent and reduce the chances of injury by automatically tightening the seat belts and priming the airbags is available as an option.

Further Reading –

Audi Q3 – Does it drive as sleek as it looks?

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