Mercedes Benz GLA200 and GLA200d

This is a segment I know better than the back of my hand as I have tested numerous small SUV’s and crossovers, of all kinds and calibres. The Mercedes Benz GLA surprisingly floated my boat, with that small yet attention-commanding stance and elegant looks. Could it be the best in its class?

Based on the same platform as the A-Class (MFA1), the GLA aims to rival the likes of the Volvo XC40, BMW X1 and Lexus UX. The first-generation model was a success, yet it looked too similar to the outgoing A-Class. This contemporary design that Mercedes implemented on the crossover gives the car some sense of uniqueness and individuality, which is what most customers would want.

The drive

The GLA line-up consists of two engine variants, namely a 1.3l turbopetrol, which produces 120kW/250Nm and a 2.0l turbodiesel that churns out 110kW/320Nm. Having evaluated both, my suggestion would be the GLA200d. It is slightly more eager and gentler than the petrol variant. There was a slight bit of turbolag and a whiny sound from the engine as you accelerate, which did knock off points on the GLA200. Nonetheless, the car is very nimble and tackles highway and city driving with ease and provides a fair driving experience. The GLA 200 has a claimed consumption of 6.0L/100km, I was averaging around 7.4l/100Km, which the GLA 200d claims 5.9l/100km yet with my heavy foot, I was doing about 8l/100km, which is insane, I know.

One could argue as to why to not just get the A-Class, as hatchbacks are popular amongst youth. The GLA aims at people wanting something with a raised ride height and those who want an SUV that small and agile. It caters to a niche market, which I think is a good thing and for those who want to transcend from the conventional hatchback.


The styling both inside and out is what gives the GLA it is main selling point. The interior is equipped with two large screens and has the MBUX infotainment system, which is quite hard for me to use. Other notable features include ambient lighting, heated seats, panoramic sunroof, and adaptive cruise control. I still, however struggle to use the MBUX system, but as time goes, I will become accustomed to it. Just below the two-infotainment system screen is the aircon vents which are covered by a glossy black plastic that I did not like much, as it looked too shiny and did not feel great. However, the other materials in the cabin are beautiful to look at. Compared to its rivals, the boot space is quite small at 481-litres, so the car would be best for a family with just one or two kids, or singletons, like myself. The rear headspace is small for tall occupants so they may not sit comfortably.

Pricing and verdict

Pricing for the GLA200 is at R749 040 and the GLA200d goes up to R784 560, and the latter is where I think you should be looking at. Fully spec’d, you are looking at a million for a GLA, which is ridiculous but, it is for a designated market. There are many cars you can opt for at that price tag, but cars are an emotional purchase. If your heart gravitates towards something, you will do by all means to get it. The GLA is a good car that I think is something one can consider, but if you would like something bigger and more executive, look at the GLB. It does have a 7-seater configuration, giving it more space for you and your passengers. Whether it is the best in its class is subjective, there is also the Lexus UX which I found to be remarkable, albeit the boot space was abysmal. Overall, the GLA is a good offering, with loads of tech and pristine looks.

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