Mercedes GLA rivals - the cars it has to beat

* The cars the new Mercedes GLA has to beat * Small SUV's competitors from Audi, BMW and Mini * GLA goes on sale in the spring...

Mercedes GLA rivals - the cars it has to beat

The Mercedes-Benz GLA is the long-awaited rival to the likes of the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1. Mercedes is hoping to entice buyers looking for a hatchback-szed car, but with a touch more practicality and a slightly higher driving position.

This is not a new concept though, and the GLA will face competition from many different sides. Here are the rivals that the GLA could entice customers away from when it goes on sale in the spring.

Audi Q3
The Audi Q3 provides a more sensible alternative to the GLA's eye-catching styling, but beneath that conservative exterior lies a decent car.

The ride is comfortable, the handling is composed and the cabin is luxurious and feels like it is built to last. All the engines are strong, but the lower-powered diesel is the best of the lot - it is efficient, comes in front-wheel-drive format only, but it has all the power you need.

The biggest selling points for BMW's X1 are its low running costs and its composure on twisty roads - somewhere that SUVs can perform badly because of their high ride height.

However, the BMW's biggest problem is the standard set by other models in the company's range; the quality of materials in the cabin is the biggest disappointment.

Land Rover Range Rover Evoque
The Range Rover Evoque is the car the GLA has to beat in the desirability and style stakes. These looks do compromise the Evoque in some areas - rear visibility is tight and the rear seat area is quite dark, and slightly cramped if you go for the three-door Coupe version.

However, it has a strong set of engines and drives well, with quick and accurate steering.

Mini Countryman
Although the Mini is a smaller and cheaper car than most of the GLA's rivals, the Countryman's style-conscious buyers are the kind of people Mercedes will be hoping to attract.

It's the only Mini that could cope with a family's needs, with a flexible set of sliding rear seats and a high driving position that gives you a good view of the road.

However, its driving manners let it down, with a harsh ride, a fair amount of body roll through corners and a noisy set of engines.