My first impression of this car was quite an eye opener, once they pointed out which car I would be taking, the only thing I could hear my brain screaming was BLUE !!!, Who would order a Mercedes in Blue, not only that, this Blue is the $900 optional South Seas Blue Metallic Paint. I managed to calm down my screaming brain, convincing it that we would give this car and colour the benefit of the doubt. Walking around the GLA, I noticed it’s quite a big car for what is a compact crossover. but it had a really good presence and stance to it, and you know what, the Blue really worked. Optioned with the AMG sports package, adding those flared bumpers and skirts, 19 inch black wheel, it was a surprisingly good looking car from almost every angle.

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The Inside

This is where I immediately started having issues; not with the build, layout style or design, but with its roof and pillars. Being a tall guy you notice quite quickly that the roof slopes in towards the center of the car a lot more than other cars. The top of the A pillar where it connected to the roof was brushing against the side of my head, and it was where I hit my head several times during this test. That aspect mixed with the general size of the car and I suspect that most talk people would find the GLA a bit cramped. The glass roof did help to make the space feel a bit bigger or brighter, and surprisingly enough the roof was not an even an option.

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The rest of the interior was like any other Mercedes, modern and clean, except for the standard splashing of buttons in the centre console. This car was optioned with the Command Package, and is still one of the most oddly designed pieces in the current range, feeling very much like an after thought. Which could be why it’s an option and not a feature. But nothing shocked me as much as the centre console construction, it was a great storage space, but seemed to be made of the cheapest plastic known to man. And it did something no German car should do for at least the first 50,000km, it rattled, and it did this a lot. In fact it rattled so much so that I used my wallet and phone to weigh it down as it was driving me crazy.

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The back has quite a different feel to the front, seats were pretty decent for the size of the car, with more of a SUV style posture it allowed a bit more room for knees, which is always good for us taller people. The roof was great from the back too, making the car feel very open and spacious. The boot was a good size, 421 litres, which is about 40 litres more than a typical hatchback. Push button open and close is standard, and with the 60 / 40 fold down rear seats, this grows to 836 litres. More then enough for the occasional new pieces of small furniture or shopping blowouts that we all have from time to time.

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The Drive

This was the most surprising part of the test, as I pretty much expect it to feel like a SUV, and as it was not a true AMG model, and just adorning the body kit, suspected it was going to be a bit or a bore. But I was wrong, the only aspect or feel of an SUV you got when the ride height and position in the vehicle. Everything else felt like I was driving a car, and not just a big wagon, something more like a sporty coupe. This was a bit odd, maybe it something to do with the smaller than SUV size and weight and the high window sills. But when you got this car into a few nice curvey roads, it did bring a smile to my face.

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The 250 power by the 2.0L turbo straight 4, with 155kw and 350nm of torque, had more then enough power to pull the GLA around, not mind blowing power, but it never left you feeling unconfident about its ability. The ride was very smooth, even on the 19inch AMG rims, the tyres are not very low profile, so there is room for the tyre to absorb some of the road, instead of passing it on. There was also really good feedback from the wheel, you could alter the position of the car with delicate movements, with confidence that it will hit the apex of the road. The brakes felt very nice too, not too sporty, but also not soft or squishy, just the right amount of feel to them for this kind of vehicle. Like most Mercedes, the engine note was not half bad either, with a hint of a grunty drone in the cabin as you cruise along, and hint of a bit of a boy racer turbo esque sounds when you put your foot down as you take off from the lights or power out of a corner. This is a surprisingly enjoyable car to drive and would not be disappointed with it as a daily driver.

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What it’s up against.

The Compact SUV / Crossover market is a niche within a niche, and is a hard one to even know which vehicles fit in it. When you break down the numbers the GLA is pretty pricey for what you get, top in its field by a couple of thousand, only overshadowed by the price of the Porsche Macan.

Brand / ModelEnginePowerFuel L/100kmLuggage CapacityPrice High to Low
Porsche Macan S1.4 L Turbo I4 TFSI250 kw / 460 Nm8.7 L / 100km500 Litres$124,400
Mercedes-Benz GLA 2502.0 L Turbo I4155 kw / 350 Nm7.0L / 100km421 Litres$76,900
Audi Q3 Sport S line1.4 L Turbo I4 TFSI110 kw / 250 Nm5.9 L / 100km460 Litres$73,400
BMW X1 sDrive20i2.0 L Turbo I4135 kw / 270 Nm6.9 L / 100km420 Litres$70,400
Mini Countryman Cooper S All41.5 L Turbo I4140 kw / 240 Nm8.7 L / 100km350 Litres$55,500
VW Tiguan 4Motion R-Line2.0 L Turbo I4132 kw / 280 Nm8.7 L / 100km470 Litres$55,490

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The good and the bad.

ProsCons
  • It looks great, even in Blue, if not better in Blue
  • something not every German car can do
  • Sporty look and feel
  • Very enjoyable to drive, almost sportscar like
  • Great driver seats
  • Sounds pretty good for what it is too
  • Love the glass roof, which is not an option
  • Quite a high price, and that’s before any options
  • Not very roomy for tall people, hit my head a lot on the door arch
  • Centre console feels like it’s from an old Japanese car then a German car

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What do we think ?

It’s great to finally see some colour from the Mercedes-Benz range, instead of the traditional and what can feel like overused Black, White and Silver models that flood our streets. I really didn’t know what to expect from the GLA, as it was another manufacturer chasing the niche that other brands are trying to fill. But sometimes it’s better not to be first, as you can see others make mistakes and learn from it. Apart from the high price, the GLA is a pretty impressive car, practically as a good daily driver, with the added ability you have a little bit of fun when you want to. I was just a shame that it was let down be a couple of cheap and easy to alter pieces.

Rating – Chevron rating 4 out of 5

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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

Vehicle TypeFront Engine, AWD Compact SUV Crossover
Starting Price$ 76,900 NZD
Tested Price$ 83,260 NZD
EngineTurbo I4 2.0L, 155 Kw , 350 Nm
Transmission7G-DCT 7 Speed Automatic
0 – 100 kph7.1 seconds
Kerb Weight1585 kg
Length x Width x Height4417 x 1804 x 1494 mm
Cargo Capacity421 Litres
Fuel Tank56 litres
Fuel Efficiency Combined – 7.0 L/100km, 162 g/km CO2
ANCAP Safety RatingsYet to be tested

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