Five star family credentials

Five star family credentials
Mercedes-Benz comes at the compact SUV market with its jewel-like GLA, a car that will put the frighteners on the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3.

Mercedes-Benz comes at the compact SUV market with its jewel-like GLA, a car that will put the frighteners on the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3.

With a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines, front or all-wheel drive and two different suspension setups, the Three-Pointed Star isn’t doing things by halves. Still, better late than never.

The GLA is rounded, rides fairly low to the ground and looks more like an A-Class that’s been boosting up on nandrolone than anything particularly hardcore. Perhaps that’s no great surprise given that it’s spawned from a similar chassis, being the fourth of five compact vehicles Mercedes is spinning off this theme, the first three being the A, B and CLA models and the fifth being the CLA Shooting Brake. The Concept GLA was first shown at the 2013 Shanghai Motor Show but the show car’s exuberant detailing has been pared back for production.

The front end now looks less angry, the design team having taken a lot of shape and creases out of the surfacing and toned down the excess. It’s genuinely hard to see how the Mercedes-Benz GLA can fail. While some may find its SUV styling a little too toned down for their tastes, it’s far from agricultural which may very well be its appeal to urban buyers.

Even the petrol engines make excellent fuel economy figures and, if experience of the A-Class is anything to go by, less weight in the nose of these cars is always a good thing for the driver. A very smart four-wheel drive system that has largely been borrowed from the A45 AMG gives the GLA true all-weather ability and an unparalleled array of safety gear give this car five star family credentials. Where’s the catch? The pricing could be about the only one.