Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
While we’re still to try the entry-level engine, it’s no ball of fire in the A-Class hatchback and is likely to struggle in the bigger, heavier GLA. If you really want a petrol, then, and can afford its high price and running costs, go for the GLA250; this is hot hatch-fast, yet also has plenty of low-rev urge, so feels pleasingly brisk even when you’re not thrashing it.
As for the diesels, we suspect the 200d will turn out to be all you need, based on how impressive it is in the A-Class. However, in the GLA, we’ve so far only tried the more expensive 220d, which pulls strongly throughout its rev range and generally feels in tune with its standard eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Suspension and ride comfort
Ride comfort is impressive, even on the relatively large 19in wheels and lowered suspension fitted to AMG Line models. No, the GLA doesn’t breeze over ripples and expansion joints quite as effectively as the Volvo XC40, but it suffers less from side-to-side sway and still takes the sting out of potholes.
The optional adaptive suspension, which stiffens or softens depending on which mode you're in, feels like an unnecessary expense.
A high ride height never helps a car’s handling, so it’s no surprise that the GLA’s body leans over a fair bit in corners. Fortunately, this happens progressively enough that it isn’t unsettling, and the GLA feels more controlled than a Range Rover Evoque or Volvo XC40.
More of an issue is the steering, which is a bit numb just off centre, although after this it improves greatly, letting you place the front wheels with confidence. You can also make it more weighty and reassuring by putting the car in Dynamic mode, while in Comfort the steering is super light and well suited to town driving.
The Audi Q3 grips the road harder in corners, but the GLA gives you plenty of warning before it starts to slide.
Noise and vibration
The range-topping 250 petrol combines smoothness at low speeds with a sporty rasp when it’s revved out. And while the 220d is rougher sounding and sends some vibrations through the car when you’re slowing to a halt, it’s still pretty refined for a four-cylinder diesel.
Similarly, some wind and road noise enter the GLA on the motorway, but it isn’t excessive. And the automatic gearbox is mostly slick, even if downshifts can be a little jerky at lower speeds.
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