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In-depth reviews

Mercedes GLA review - Engines, performance and drive

The GLA comes with a choice of petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines, while the Mercedes-AMG versions offer plenty of performance

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.0 out of 5

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Mercedes has ensured that the GLA delivers premium levels of comfort and refinement. The SUV’s extra ride height and additional suspension travel, compared to the A-Class hatchback, means that it soaks up road imperfections easily and offers a comfortable drive.

The inevitable trade-off is that the GLA isn’t the most engaging steer, although if you fancy your compact SUV with a bit more shove, then there's always the Mercedes-AMG models to consider.

The GLA employs the second generation of Mercedes’ Modular Front-wheel-drive Architecture (MFA2 platform), which is also able to incorporate the manufacturer’s 4Matic four-wheel-drive system. This can send 50 per cent of the engine’s power to the rear wheels for extra grip, if needed.

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When we tested the GLA 220 d 4Matic we found it pulled strongly, with maximum torque achieved from just 1,600rpm. The eight-speed auto transmission works well and doesn’t hold onto revs too long before changing gear. There’s little engine drone and it all contributes to a quieter, more relaxed experience when pushing on than in the old GLA.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

Both the entry-level GLA 180 (no longer on the GLA price list) and more expensive 200 versions use a 1.3-litre petrol engine, with 134bhp and 161bhp, respectively. The base car is able to deliver a 0-62mph dash of 9.6s and a maximum speed of 124mph, which is probably more than enough performance for most tastes. 

However, moving up the range does add extra spice, with the GLA 200 trimming almost a full second off the 180’s sprint time, before motoring on to a 130mph top speed. The GLA 250 2.0-litre petrol variant no longer features on the GLA price list, although was the quickest car in the range below the AMG variants. With a potent 221bhp, it’s capable of 0-62mph in 6.9s and tops-out at 149mph.

Diesel power comes in the form of the 2.0-litre GLA 200 d and 220 d models, which offer good pace as well as improvements in CO2 emissions and fuel economy. The 148bhp 200 d is available with front-wheel-drive, completing 0-62mph in under nine seconds and offering a top speed approaching 130mph. The 187bhp GLA 220 d 4Matic is four-wheel-drive only, but is noticeably quicker, posting a sprint time of 7.3s.

If you’re after a mix of performance and superior economy, then Mercedes may have the answer in the shape of the GLA 250 e plug-in hybrid. It uses a 1.3-litre petrol unit, along with an electric motor to achieve 215bhp and a 7.1s 0-62mph time.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    GLA 180 Sport 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £31,950

Most Economical

  • Name
    GLA 250e AMG Line Executive 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £42,525

Fastest

  • Name
    GLA 250 AMG Line 5dr Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £36,500
Executive editor

Paul was employed across automotive agency and manufacturer-side sectors before joining Auto Express in 2020 as our online reviews editor. After a brief sojourn at a national UK newspaper, Paul returned as executive editor where he now works closely with our commercial partners.

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