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

Sean’s been writing about cars since 2010, having worked for outlets as diverse as PistonHeads, MSN Cars, Which? Cars, Race Tech – a specialist motorsport publication – and most recently Auto Express and sister titles Carbuyer and DrivingElectric

Recommended

KGM Torres launches in the UK with £34,995 price tag
KGM Torres - front
News

KGM Torres launches in the UK with £34,995 price tag

Skoda Kodiaq-rivalling family SUV is the first new car to arrive since SsangYong rebranded to KGM
19 Feb 2024
New Dacia Spring to be revealed in full on 21 February
Dacia Spring teaser
News

New Dacia Spring to be revealed in full on 21 February

Dacia’s budget EV will come with a new look and upgraded technology for its UK launch
19 Feb 2024
Updated Skoda Kamiq on sale now: the Ford Puma better watch out
Updated Skoda Kamiq Monte Carlo
News

Updated Skoda Kamiq on sale now: the Ford Puma better watch out

Prices for Skoda’s smallest SUV start from £24,030, with the first examples to arrive with customers in spring 2024
26 Jan 2024
Top 10 best small 4x4s to buy 2024
Best small 4x4s - header image
Best cars & vans

Top 10 best small 4x4s to buy 2024

Need off-road capability but in a smaller package? Take a look our top 10 small 4x4s
17 Jan 2024

Most Popular

New MG2 will beat Volkswagen to the baby electric car market
MG badge
News

New MG2 will beat Volkswagen to the baby electric car market

MG has confirmed it is working on an entry-level electric car to rival Citroen e-C3 and new Fiat Panda
29 Feb 2024
Car Deal of the Day: new razor-sharp Toyota C-HR hybrid SUV for £257 a month
Toyota C-HR 2.0 Hybrid GR Sport front corner static shot
News

Car Deal of the Day: new razor-sharp Toyota C-HR hybrid SUV for £257 a month

The recently-launched second generation of Toyota’s funky hybrid SUV is our Deal of the Day for 29th February
29 Feb 2024
New £20m Rolls-Royce Arcadia Droptail is the ultimate in opulence
Rolls Royce Arcadia - front static
News

New £20m Rolls-Royce Arcadia Droptail is the ultimate in opulence

Arcadia is the third model in Rolls-Royce’s exclusive Droptail commission, and it doesn’t come cheap
29 Feb 2024