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.
The Mercedes 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.
The Mercedes GLA 180 and GLA 200 both use a 1.6-litre petrol engine, producing 121bhp and 154bhp respectively. Front-wheel drive is standard, with a six-speed manual or optional dual-clutch automatic gearbox. We haven’t tried the 180 yet, but the 200 delivers brisk enough performance, although you do have to rev it quite hard to get the best from it. The AMG Line-only GLA 250 uses a 208bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, with an automatic gearbox and 4Matic four-wheel drive. It feels much more rapid than the 200 but isn’t as fun as you might hope, given its greater power and hefty price. The engines are quite hushed at a steady cruise; on a long journey, you’ll be more disturbed by a level of road and wind noise that’s far higher than that of the Audi Q3.