Small Premium SUV of the Year 2021: Mercedes GLA

The Mercedes GLA is the Auto Express 2021 Small Premium SUV of the Year with the Range Rover Evoque and Cupra Formentor commended

It’s back-to-back wins for the Mercedes GLA, which is an impressive achievement when you consider the quality of the opposition in this closely fought category. Combining luxury, tech and practicality in a distinctively designed package, the high-riding German machine makes a compelling choice for families looking for style and substance.

Nowhere is this more obvious than inside, where the GLA effortlessly blends a premium finish with impressive practicality. Soft-touch materials are used throughout, while the classy touchscreens and displays wouldn’t look out of place in an S-Class limo. Then there’s the excellent MBUX infotainment system, which is so simple to use. 

There’s room for five adults at a pinch, while the 395-litre boot is bigger than most in the class. And of course, being a Mercedes, it’s packed with the latest safety kit, including a lane-keeping aid, autonomous braking and speed-limit assist.

Precise steering and composed handling mean the GLA can take any road in its stride, but with low noise levels and soft suspension that soaks up the bumps, it’s the car’s relaxing comfort that’s the real highlight. The easy-going feel is enhanced by the refined engines, especially the plug-in hybrid GLA 250 e that promises up to 37 miles of silent, zero-emissions progress and cuts overall CO2 emissions to as little as 31g/km. If you fancy something a little more exciting, then the road-burning 415bhp AMG-tuned GLA 45 S will blast from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds and tackle twisting roads with the agility of a hot hatch.

The small premium SUV competition is closing in, but with such a breadth of ability, the desirable GLA is still at the top of its game and is yet again a worthy winner.

Best deal

Mercedes GLA 200 Sport (£30,750)

Until the end of September, Mercedes will throw in a £1,000 discount on selected GLA models, including the GLA 200 Sport. We found one Mercedes dealer taking that further with a £2,600 discount; that translates to £330 per month on a four-year PCP with a £5,400 customer deposit.

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Commended

Range Rover Evoque

evoque

When it comes to head-turning style and cosseting luxury, the Evoque is a class act, plus it can head further off road than most rivals. Updated infotainment and the availability of a plug-in hybrid add appeal, but there’s not as much choice as with the GLA.

Cupra Formentor

Cupra Formentor e-Hybrid - side

One of the surprises of the year, the Formentor is the first bespoke model from the sporty Spanish brand. Good-looking, quick and fun to drive, it’s also easy to live with, thanks to its comfortable ride and spacious, well equipped interior. Factor in a plug-in hybrid option and the Cupra is an easy car to recommend.

New Car Awards 2021: the winners

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