Mercedes-Benz GLA

220 CDI 4MATIC AMG

Line

Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC, front
Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC, front, action
Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC, side
Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC, rear, action
Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC, interior
Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC, rear seats
Mercedes GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC, boot

WHEN Spen King dreamed up the Range Rover 46 years ago it's unlikely he could have imagined just how many imitators his groundbreaking vehicle would ultimately spawn.

For much of the time since SUVs following in its wake have been similarly large creations but in recent years manufacturers have tapped into a huge appetite for smaller SUVs.

Arguably Land Rover was again the trendsetter in this regard with the Range Rover Evoque - prompting a rush in the premium sector to get compact SUVs to market.

Audi and BMW followed suit with the X1 and the Q3 while Mercedes-Benz joined the fray more recently with its GLA.

Based on the A-Class platform the GLA is an eye-catching creation which combines a sporty and stylish look with a fair degree of practicality.

It might look small but it more than measures up on the inside with a cabin that's certainly a match for any family hatchback and a generously sized 480-litre boot.

Mercedes' current design language has plenty to recommend it - a move away from more traditional Teutonic design lines to the likes of the elegant CLS and the GLA is definitely a good example of this, with flowing lines and curves in all the right places.

This AMG Line model has additional body cladding which enhances and beefs-up the overall look without being too over the top.

On the inside the GLA might be a smaller Merc but it still boasts all the hallmarks of the brand's opulence and sophistication and though this might have been a high spec model all versions come generously equipped.

First appearances are of switchgear and instruments that might be complex and challenging but the reality is a vehicle that's remarkably user-friendly and intuitive.

My only gripe would be the speed limiter stalk which feels a little like where the indicator should be to me - but you soon acclimatise.

There's a choice of two diesel and petrol engines with the option of two-wheel or four-wheel drive.

I'd imagine most people in the UK will go for four-wheel drive diesels. Essentially there's two versions of a 2.1-litre diesel engine delivering 136bhp in the 200d and 170bhp in the 220d.

A two-wheel drive version of the lower-powered model is remarkably efficient with a claimed 67.3mpg on the combined cycle and CO2 emissions of just 108g/km and that's with the automatic gearbox.

The range is angled towards automatic rather than manual transmission and while you are paying for the privilege it's a super-smooth shifter and in line with many autos these days offers improved efficiency - funny how the tables have turned in that regard.

Despite its relatively small size the GLA has a big car feel - both in the cabin and out on the road.

The ride might be on the firm-ish side for a Merc but that in no way detracts from what is a very comfortable vehicle to travel in.

Handling-wise it again feels bigger than it looks but it's agile and poised and a decent driver's car overall.

FAST FACTS

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 CDI 4MATIC AMG Line

Price:£32,765

Mechanical: 170bhp, 2,143cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 7-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 8.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 55.4

Insurance Group: 29

C02 emissions: 132g/km

Bik rating: 22%

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