Small Premium SUV of the Year 2020: Mercedes GLA

The Mercedes GLA is the 2020 Auto Express Small Premium SUV of the Year, with the Audi Q3 and Range Rover Evoque commended

Mercedes’ small upmarket SUV has blossomed in its transformation to this second-generation GLA. The manufacturer’s smallest SUV impressed us earlier in the year with its blend of attributes, including the brand’s slick MBUX infotainment system that will make life with the car even easier.

Premium buyers won’t stand for low-rent plastics, rumbly engines and sub-standard tech, but these are areas where the GLA excels. High quality and great materials combine with a range of punchy, frugal and smooth engines that – in some cases – are linked to new transmissions, so that on the move the car’s mechanicals melt away into the background.

It’s true that premium cars come with premium price tags, but buyers at this level of the market are also looking for advanced, efficient technologies to save money, and the GLA offers a plug-in powertrain in 250 e form.

There’s up to 37 miles of all-electric range (replenished in as little as one hour and 45 minutes using a home wallbox), which is a very usable figure when most people don’t travel this far on their daily journeys. It could cut your running costs massively and offset the higher purchase price or finance costs.

They might not be to all tastes, but the 200 d and 220 d both do a great job otherwise. Diesel needn’t be a dirty word with modern units like these, because CO2 emissions are as low as 140g/km and economy as high as 52.3mpg.

As much as 495 litres of boot capacity is great for a vehicle of this size, while the amount of space in the GLA’s cabin is good, too.

But it’s the slick in-car technology that pulls the whole package together, compared with more limited or ageing systems in some of the Mercedes’ key rivals. With a touchscreen and a central touchpad, there are two methods of control, while it’s responsive, the graphics are great, and there’s plenty of connectivity.

The GLA is a template for what a modern small premium Sports Utility Vehicle should be, so it’s no surprise that Mercedes has picked up another award here.

Our choice

Mercedes GLA 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Executive (£39,935)

Opting for Executive trim gives you Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, while AMG Line has sporty looks and the core kit a premium SUV needs. It sneaks under the £40,000 threshold for the lower rate of road tax in 220 d form, too.

Commended

Audi Q3

The Q3 is arguably even more practical than the GLA, even if quality isn’t on the same level. Its sliding rear seats add flexibility, while the engine range and on-board technology make it a solid choice.

Range Rover Evoque

Last year’s winner slips to commended here; it’s still a luxurious product that boasts plenty of refinement, but the tech isn’t as advanced as the Merc’s and the packaging and practicality are more limited. But it still sets the bar for style.

New Car Awards 2020: the winners

Recommended

New 2022 Ferrari Purosangue SUV set for naturally aspirated V12 power
Ferrari SUV teaser
Ferrari

New 2022 Ferrari Purosangue SUV set for naturally aspirated V12 power

The Ferrari Purosangue will be the brand’s first-ever SUV, and will receive the bombastic V12 engine from its flagship sports cars
5 May 2022
BMW X3 review
BMW X3 - front tracking
BMW X3

BMW X3 review

The third generation BMW X3 raises its game to take on the likes of the Jaguar F-Pace and Volvo XC60
4 May 2022
Audi Q5 review
Audi Q5
Audi Q5

Audi Q5 review

The Audi Q5 is refined and comfortable, but other SUV rivals offer a bit more involvement and agility
28 Apr 2022
Mercedes GLA review
Mercedes GLA driving
Mercedes GLA

Mercedes GLA review

The Mercedes GLA offers strong compact SUV credentials, with extra interior space, improved practicality and high levels of comfort and refinement.
27 Apr 2022

Most Popular

15 Tesla Supercharger sites open to non-Tesla vehicles in the UK
Tesla Supercharger
Tesla

15 Tesla Supercharger sites open to non-Tesla vehicles in the UK

Pilot scheme to open up Tesla-only charging network to all electric cars lands at selected UK locations
18 May 2022
New all-electric Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider shapes up
Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider - watermarked front
Alfa Romeo

New all-electric Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider shapes up

Alfa Romeo bosses have confirmed that a new two-seat electric roadster is in the company’s rejuvenation plans and our exclusive images preview how it …
19 May 2022
Shell and ABB team up to deliver world’s fastest electric car charger
Shell charger
News

Shell and ABB team up to deliver world’s fastest electric car charger

New Shell and ABB-developed Terra 360 EV charger can add 62 miles of range in less than three minutes
16 May 2022