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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d 2020 UK review

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Immediately, the new car looks to be a more considered effort than before. Crucially, it’s taller, by a full 104mm, and slightly wider, meaning it shuns the hatchback-on-stilts look of the old car in favour of a more bespoke bodystyle. That does mean there’s more than a hint of B-Class MPV in its side profile, however. 

Not every dimension has grown: it’s actually 15mm shorter than the old version, although its wheelbase is 30mm longer. This means it’s now a proper family car; rear accomodation was a weak point in the old GLA, but this 6ft 3in-tall tester is able to sit comfortably behind a similarly sized driver with head and leg space to spare.

The 435-litre boot is at the meaner end of the small SUV scale, although the rear outer seats slide fore and aft independently of each other and, of course, if the boot were any bigger, it would encroach on the GLB’s turf.

While externally there is distance between the two, the GLA’s link to the A-Class is abundantly clear inside, where it shares the same appealingly designed and materially upmarket cockpit and versatile MBUX infotainment system that can be operated by touchscreen, touchpad or natural speech commands. 

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Higher-end specs are the name of the game to get the desired premium feel and especially to shun the cheap-looking dual-screen infotainment-and-instrument set-up for the glossy 10.2in displays that appear to link as one. 

But as with the A-Class, there’s a feeling that the cabin just misses that last little bit of substance to really set it off: the multi-control infotainment still isn’t as intuitive on the move as BMW’s iDrive rotary scroller, while a few scratchy plastics, hollow-feeling door cards and, on this example, the odd little creak and rattle just take the shine off what for what in this spec is a £40,000-plus car. 

There are two fundamental differences between the GLA and the A-Class, thanks to that taller roofline. Firstly, it allows an expanded glasshouse for better all-round visibility and a more spacious feel, particularly up front. 

Secondly, it enables a notably raised hip point. This was a criticism levelled at the old GLA that Mercedes has rectified. The front seats are mounted significantly higher up and with plenty of adjustment, so you can lord it over hatchbacks or keep a reasonably car-like position. The other benefit? There’s now loads of room for rear passengers to slide their feet under the front chairs. 



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