The Mercedes GLA goes to show just how much clothes matter. Put on the right outfit and you’ll feel like you can take on the world. Swap your work garb for dressier threads and the town is your oyster on an evening out, while a stout pair of wellies and a weatherproof jacket can make you feel unstoppable on a weekend in the countryside.
The GLA wears just that sort of rugged, outdoor attire, but undress it and you’ll find an urbane, city-loving Mercedes A Class hatchback beneath the surface. Yes, despite the GLA’s butch, chunky looks, it behaves in much the same way as the regular family car on which it’s based, and that includes the vital matter of running costs.
For a hatchback to dress up as a family SUV clearly makes a lot of sense, then, and the GLA’s Audi Q3 and BMW X1 rivals are cut from the same premium cloth. If you’re less into designer labels than you are value for money, though, the Volkswagen Tiguan and Skoda Karoq should also be on your shortlist if you’re shopping in this market.
Rivals offer rather more engine and trim level choice, too; the GLA is available only in Urban Edition or sporty AMG Line trim, each of which can be augmented by a Plus package. Petrol engines are mandatory and there are three to choose from, the most powerful of which comes only with four-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox, the latter being optional with the other two engines.
But which, if any, should you go for? Read on for our full review, in which we’ll tell you how the GLA compares with the competition when it comes to driving pleasure, interior comfort and practicality.