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5/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Mercedes-Benz GLA

£25,515£37,020
5/10
Overall verdict
Crossover'd A-Class is an improvement on the old one and will no doubt sell very well indeed, but it's not without its problems...
 

For: 

Better conceived and executed than the car it replaces, dash is cool

Against: 

Pricey, doesn’t ride well, occasionally laggy gearbox, isn't quite as spacious as rivals

Overview

What is it?

VW Group isn’t the only one spinning a million and one cars off a single platform. In the last couple of years Mercedes has derived no fewer than SEVEN different cars from the latest A-Class’ underpinnings, all of which use a common suite of engines and technologies and, therefore, look and feel much the same. Seriously, you just pick the one that fits.

And for a disappointingly large number of people, that’ll be the GLA – a five-seat crossover that’s all but guaranteed to sell well. Because nowadays everyone loves a crossover. The outgoing GLA was a big hit for Benz, with over a million built and sold since late-2013. And with a three-pointed star on the front and SUV-lite styling, this one’s sure to be a hit too. Question is, does it deserve to be?

Looks exactly how you’d expect a crossover’d A-Class to look, doesn’t it. Bit taller, bit wider, with a pinch more ground clearance and some black plastic trim around the sills and wheel arches to make it look at least semi-rugged. Textbook stuff.

It is not a bad looking car, and Mercedes has at least mended the proportions. The new car is ten centimetres taller and a fraction shorter than the oddly-shaped old one, aligning it more closely with rivals like the Audi Q3, BMW X1/X2 and Volvo XC40. Now it looks more like a little SUV, rather than the jumped-up hatchback it nevertheless remains underneath, and has more space inside for people and things.

But it is a bit bland, don’t you think? A bit on the nose. Not half as interesting a design as the seven-seat GLB – one of the many cars it shares a platform with – even with the chrome brightwork and big alloys of the pricy yet popular AMG Line model. After spending a couple of hours behind the wheel of the car pictured, I was forced to pull over so I could remind myself what it looked like from the outside.

The GLA is on sale now, with prices starting at around £33,000 for the front-wheel drive petrol-powered GLA 200. An all-wheel drive diesel with all the trimmings costs well over £40,000 – as much money as an entry-level GLC. The GLA is many things, but cheap isn’t one of them.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
GLA 250 4Matic AMG Line Edition 5dr Auto
6.6s 169g/km 38.2 211 £35,325
The cheapest
GLA 180 Urban Edition 5dr
9.0s 158g/km 40.9 122 £25,515
The greenest
GLA 180 Urban Edition 5dr Auto
8.7s 144g/km 44.8 122 £27,115

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