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Mercedes Benz GLA Mercedes' GLA-morous new SUV is a classy drive


Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d


If the three wise men are heading to Bethlehem this Christmas they should bring the baby Jesus gold, frankincense and Merc to honour the new-born king.

Because after living with the second-generation GLA Class for five weeks during Level 5 lockdown this precious metal is the best gift even the Lord himself could ever wish for.

I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I was with the new Mercedes Benz GLA during my long-term test drive in recent weeks.

The baby SUV of the ever-growing Mercedes stable left such a lasting impression on my mind that I've added one to my Santa letter this year.

The GLA represents the entry level into the brand's successful family of SUV models, yet it is a very important model for the premium brand, especially in Europe, where the brand expects this new model to be one of its top-sellers in a really tough market. But, believe me, Mercedes has a model on its hands now that has the potential to blow the competition away.

On the outside, the new Mercedes Benz GLA has ditched its plain-Jane A-Class looks and instead taken some of its design cues from the larger SUV models in the stable - a more muscular look that really catches the eye when you see it in the flesh.

The character has been significantly reinforced here compared with the previous model. The height of the new GLA, at 1,611 millimetres, exceeds that of its predecessor by more than 10 centimetres.

The correspondingly higher and characteristic SUV seating position also comes with more headroom in the first row. Legroom in the rear is likewise much more generous, even though the GLA is now one and a half centimetres shorter.

But it's on the inside where the design team has really put the magic touches and the baby SUV is now fitted with the latest dashboard that first appeared in the much more expensive E-Class - one that has been the talk of the motoring world since it first appeared a few years back. The instrument panel consists of a basic volume, which features optical 'cut-outs' in the driver and front passenger area. The cut-out on the driver's side is dominated by the free-standing display unit, which is available in three variants.

At the rear, the leg and headroom is more than ample and I found the boot sufficient enough with 435 litres on offer to carry all the Christmas shopping - it might even give Santa's sleigh a run for its money.

On the road, and after five weeks behind the wheel, I really got to know the Mercedes Benz GLA and it was an absolute joy to drive both on motorways and around town.

The higher height ride gives the driver a commanding view of the road and it feels like you are driving something a lot bigger from the Mercedes stable.

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Mercedes has opted to stick with the column change gear selector which does take a bit of getting used to because I often find myself moving my hands towards it to turn on the wipers when the rain starts to fall.

But by placing it there Mercedes has freed up a lot of space in the centre console which is extremely decluttered.

My test car for the five weeks was the 200d, which is powered by a two-litre 150bhp diesel engine matted to an eight-speed gearbox.

The diesel is powerful enough, especially when sport mode is selected, even if it is noisy for a modern-day diesel when punching up through the gears.

Apart from that I couldn't actually find a single fault with the new GLA and I think Mercedes has a brilliant SUV on its hands that has stiff competition from the likes of the Audi Q3, BMW X2 and even the superb Volvo XC40.

Prices for the new Mercedes Benz GLA start at €40,320. My test car was the 200d AMG line which pushed the price up to €42,022.

On top of that it came with the 'Advantage Package' (€3,490), which includes the 10.25-inch head unit display. Well worth pushing the boat out for this if you can afford it.

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