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Drive

The Mercedes Benz GLA 200

With this GLA, especially if it’s your first ‘Merc’, it’s likely to be 'first bitten, forever smitten'
There’s a definite ‘upmarket’ feel behind the wheel

Our recent test drive of the new Mercedes GLA caused a pause for thought. It’s such a well thought through package after all, that a test drive and a seductive price plan will probably clinch a deal; even if you’ve not driven one before.


 

Why? Because while it meets all the practicality/usability check list criteria you’d expect of a small SUV, this one ups the game somewhat, and the temptation to part with your cash comes in the highly seductive package that accompanies it.

Technology

Mercedes have clearly done their homework. Active, young, well-to-do families appreciate a prestige brand, especially if it is penned with style. The age of technology is no longer an ‘adult’ thing – it begins with our kids, who expect gadgets we adults often don’t understand to be everywhere, even in our cars. Whilst we welcome the standard Audio 20 radio system in the GLA, along with media interface, bluetooth and USB, it’s our five year old who will appreciate the COMAND on-line. Meanwhile, her 12 year old brother will get excited about the access to multiple apps, and the ability to use the key functions of his iPhone whilst on the move. On a long journey they’ll be the quietest kids in the world, and you and your partner will love Mercedes Benz for this welcome GLA Parental Anti Stress Programme.

Safety

We Signers of Cheques may be more interested in an official average of 62 mpg from the 4 cyl 2.1 litre diesel engine, and even the average 42 mpg from the 2.0 litre petrol isn’t too bad. The new 4Matic four wheel drive technology appeals equally, as it makes for a better handling, more capable, and thus safer all round package. It’s not the typical 4x4 arrangement we’re used to, you’ve guessed, it’s more high tech: a centrally located tablet screen monitors the on and off road data, and at the touch of a button the programme increases traction on uneven surfaces with little or no driver interference. Downhill Speed Regulation takes control of steep descents whilst the tablet screen shows important real-time data including gradient, transverse tilt and compass direction. There’s even an optional Intelligent Light System that adapts beam and light intensity to off road conditions.

Yet most of us (and many GLA buyers) prefer to watch off-roading on Safari programmes rather than do it for real, our off roading being at best the local garden centre. That said, Mother/Father nature plays funny tricks these days and Xmas could be a sweltering 30 degrees while ice and snow could fall any time of year. The 4Matic will come in handy then on an icy gradient on the school run, or even for the less extreme crazy flooding we had last year. Simply put, current British weather sells 4x4s.

Value

Yet what we like about this one is that it’s pleasurable to drive. There’s a definite ‘upmarket’ feel behind the wheel, and good grip and acceleration give a level of B-road confidence you’d associate more with a sports saloon than a 4x4, and that’s regardless of the engine option you choose, be it petrol or diesel. The self-assured handling is the key, with that spot of luxury putting the GLA a step above only marginally lower priced, less prestigious competition.

With this GLA, especially if it’s your first ‘Merc’ it’s likely to ‘first bitten, forever smitten’ – competitive pricing playing a big part in this as its similar money to a Mazda CX5, an Audi Q3, a Range Rover Evoque, and a Land Rover Freelander…thinking again? Yes…it’s tempting is that Mercedes key fob.

The Mercedes Benz GLA 200 CDi SE

Price: £25,850. 0–60mph: 10 seconds. Top speed: 127 mph. Average mpg: 62.8. CO2: 119 g/km.

- Kevin Haggarthy