The small SUV market is growing at rapid rates in Ireland, and around the world. The competition is extremely tough and for the last few years the Nissan Qashqai has been winning the competition with huge sales. The Hyundai Tucson came along, and in 2016 it proved to be the biggest selling car. But what about the luxury small SUV segment? Well, the big winners there at the moment are the Audi Q3 and the BMW X1. So, where are Mercedes?? Well, for a long time they weren't included in the segment, but with the recent release of the GLA, they have now shown up hoping to blaze all guns.
We have counted a whopping 80 different variants of this car on the Irish market, thankfully, the engine choice isn't as vast, but there is a lot of choice all the same. For those of you who like the faster things in life, well, if you spend €71,700 you can opt for the GLA 45 AMG. This will give you 381 bhp, a top speed of 250 km/h and 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds. This won't be the big seller though We reckon that if Irish buyers opt for one of these, they will be coming in with the GLA 200D, which is available in and around the €36,000 mark. This gives a respectable 136bhp and 0-100km/h in 9.5 seconds.
We'd definitely opt for the standard suspension when it comes to this car, it deals well with some of our uneven surfaces. The sports suspension is too firm for our bumps. Unfortunately, the steering in the GLA is not the most responsive that we have driven. It's all a bit vague. The car also suffers from a small bit of body roll on corners. Apart from that, this is a nice cruiser at motorway speeds.
The 200D can be a little gruff when put under pressure, but in cities and at cruising speeds on the motorway, things are nicely hushed. Unfortunately, there is both road and wind noise when on the motorway though and it can all be a little loud. A little extra padding would certainly make the drive a bit more relaxing.
Quality is good in the interior, while it could do with more sound proofing, there is a premium feel within the cabin. The infotainment system is intuitive, unfortunately though, it can be tough to navigate and it takes a small bit of getting used to. None of the plastics feel cheap.
When this car was released in 2014, it received a full five-stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests. Standard equipment includes Attention Assist, which is set up to recognise drive fatigue and at speeds of between 80 and 180km/h it analyses driver behaviour. If it thinks that you are tired, or falling asleep, it warns the driver through visual and audible signals.
Rear space is not great in the GLA and it lacks leg room. It offers a good 421 litres of boot space, which means it should hold plenty. The front cabin is perfectly spacious for comfortable driving.