Price: The Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 starts at $36,400. Add $2,000 for 4Matic all-wheel drive (AWD). The AMG GLA 35 and AMG GLA 45 start at $47,950 and $54,950, respectively.
The smallest and most affordable offering in the vast Mercedes-Benz SUV lineup is the GLA-Class. This small and spunky crossover does a great job embodying the elegance of the Mercedes-Benz brand in the form of a subcompact SUV. The interior is luxurious and roomy for its size, and it’s packed with modern technology that’s easy to use.
The GLA-Class is a small SUV with a big personality, but it’s up against some tough competition in the ever-expanding subcompact luxury SUV class. For example, the GLA-Class has a pretty tight cargo hold, and some competitors are more fun to drive. However, if you’re looking for a comfortable small luxury SUV and high tech and you don’t need a ton of cargo space, this is a solid choice.
The top rivals of the GLA-Class are the BMW
X1 and the Audi Q3, both of which have lower starting prices. The X1 excels at practicality with its big cargo hold, and the Q3 is the most affordable and arguably has the nicest interior among this trio. However, neither of them offers high-performance options that come close to the performance of the GLA-Class AMG models.
2022 Mercedes-Benz GLA pricing
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 starts at $36,400. With 4Matic AWD, the GLA 250 begins at $38,400.
The AMG models, the GLA 35 and the GLA 45, start at $47,950 and $54,950, respectively.
The GLA is one of the more expensive options in this class. The BMW X1 and Audi Q3 both have a lower starting price. There are a couple of even more affordable options in subcompact luxury SUVs like the Lexus UX and the Volvo
XC40. The closest competitor to the GLA in terms of price is the BMW X2.
Driving the 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLA
Like most Mercedes-Benz cars and SUVs, driving the GLA is a satisfying experience. The turbocharged engine is lively, making it fun to drive in just about any situation. If you push the FWD model aggressively, you’ll experience a bit of torque steer, but the 4Matic AWD system remedies this.
The 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission delivers quick and smooth shifts for the most part. Sometimes when slowing down to a stop, the last downshift into 1st gear can be a bit clunky.
The handling is agile in the Mercedes-Benz GLA partially thanks to its small footprint. Its subcompact size makes it maneuverable on city streets and easy to park. Its suspension is tuned for sportiness, but it’s still reasonably comfortable on the highway.
Its ride isn’t as plush as a big Mercedes sedan like the S-Class, but the GLA strikes a nice balance of sharp agility and smooth comfort. Switching between Comfort and Sport drive modes helps with this balance.
The AMG models of the GLA are thrilling. The AMG GLA 35 is the more affordable and efficient of the two making it the more practical choice. However, upgrading the AMG GLA 45 is a worthwhile investment if you can afford the high price tag and less efficient engine. The BMW X2 M35i is competitive with the AMG GLA 35, but there’s nothing quite like the AMG GLA 45.
The GLA-Class is the cheapest SUV in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, and that’s what it feels like inside. That’s not to say it feels cheap, per se, but it’s not quite as elegant, and the materials generally aren’t as nice as more expensive SUVs from this brand. There’s a mixture of high-quality materials and hard plastics. One gripe about this interior; it’s a little noisy at highways speeds.
Passenger space is pretty roomy. It can comfortably seat up to four adults with a good amount of headroom and legroom in both rows of seats. However, cargo space behind the rear seats is pretty tight, even by subcompact SUV standards. If you want a small SUV with a lot of cargo space, the BMW X1 would be a better fit.
The Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class looks fabulous. It wears a face similar to the A-Class sedan, which works well on this small crossover. The body lines give it a little bit of muscle, and it has front and rear skidplates, but unfortunately, they’re purely cosmetic.
The AMG models have a sporty appearance package with a unique grille, wheels, and body kit. There’s also an AMG Night Package with black accents and an Aerodynamics Package with a prominent rear wing.
In terms of size, the Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class is similar to the BMW X2 and Volvo XC40, and it’s a bit smaller than the BMW X1 and Audi Q3. Think of it as a compact hatchback on stilts.
MBUX infotainment system
This high-tech system is loaded with Android Auto and Apple
CarPlay, and it responds to “Hey, Mercedes” prompts.
High-performance AMG models
Two available AMG models make this SUV drive like an exciting hot hatch.
Also see: The 25 bestselling SUVs
The 2022 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class comes well-appointed with standard features. The base GLA 250 comes standard with a power liftgate, 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and taillights, dual-zone automatic climate control, push-button start, and a 7-inch digital instrument panel.
The standard MBUX infotainment system has a 7-inch screen loaded with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It has a user-friendly voice control system that responds to “Hey, Mercedes,” making it easy to use while keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
Standard safety tech features in the GLA 250 include a backup camera, automatic emergency braking, Attention Assist, blind-spot monitoring, vehicle exit warning, and crosswind assist.
One of the most popular options for the GLA-Class is 4Matic all-wheel drive. This not only improves all-weather traction and gives the GLA mild off-road capability, but it also improves on-road performance with more confident handling and slightly quicker acceleration.
An available Premium Package adds SiriusXM
a 115V power outlet, power-folding mirrors, and bigger screens. You get a 10.25-inch infotainment system and a 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster that flow together, creating a high-tech experience and a sleek look.
A Multimedia Package adds augmented reality navigation plus speed limit sign recognition. When it reads a speed limit sign, it displays it on the driver information screen and adjusts the cruise control accordingly.
The Driver Assistance Package adds all kinds of safety tech features. It makes your drive safer and easier with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, Active Emergency Stop, Speed Limit Assist, and lane-change assist.
Standalone options for the GLA 250 include leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, adjustable suspension dampening, Burmeister premium audio, and more.
On top of an engine upgrade, the AMG GLA 35 comes with a distinct appearance package hinting at its sporty performance. Other components getting AMG performance upgrades include the transmission, 4Matic AWD system, suspension, and brakes. It also comes standard with a pair of 10.25-inch screens and more drive modes intended for sporty driving.
The AMG GLA 45 model comes with a more powerful, hand-built AMG engine. It also has a unique 4Matic+ system with rear-axle torque vectoring, a Race Start function, and a Race drive mode.
Option packages available for the AMG models include an Aerodynamics Package with a prominent rear wing, an AMG Night Package adding black exterior accents, and a new AMG Night Package Plus, which adds black louvers on the AMG grille and black exterior badging.
If you like the look of the AMG models, but you’re not that interested in the performance upgrade, the AMG-Line package adds the AMG aesthetic to the GLA 250.
Engine and transmission
The base engine in the Mercedes-Benz AMG 250 is an eager and efficient turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4. It has plenty of pep for around-town driving and highway passing. It’s linked to an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that delivers quick and satisfying shifts. It achieves a 0-60 mph time of 6.8 seconds with FWD or 6.6 seconds with AWD.
Front-wheel drive is standard, and the 4Matic AWD system is optional. AWD makes the GLA more confident in snowy climates and a little bit quicker. In the AMG models, there’s a particular AMG Performance version of the transmission and 4Matic system. In the AMG GLA 45, you get 4Matic+ with rear-axle torque-vectoring.
While the AMG GLA 35 has an “AMG-enhanced” version of the base engine in the GLA 250, the AMG GLA 45 is what purists might call a “real” AMG car. That’s because its engine is hand-built by AMG in Affalterbach, Germany, to get the most performance out of this turbocharged mill as possible. Both AMG variants are quick and handle well, but the AMG GLA 45 is on another level of performance.
The AMG GLA 35 has a 0-60 mph time of 5.1 seconds, and the AMG GLA 45 is quite a bit quicker, hitting 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GLA 250)
221 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,800-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg (FWD), 23/32 mpg (AWD)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GLA 35)
302 horsepower @ 5,800 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 3,000-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (GLA 45)
382 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
354 lb-ft of torque @ 4,750-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: est. 20/27 mpg
This story originally ran on KBB.com.