Mercedes-Benz GLA

220 d 4MATIC AMG

Line Premium Plus

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, front
Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, side
Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, rear
Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, rear, action
Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, interior
Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, rear seats
Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, gear lever and console
Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, dashboard
Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC, 2021, badge

COLOURFUL and witty are not two attributes you'd normally expect of a car.

But you get both and a whole lot more with the new Mercedes-Benz GLA.

Colourful because all the time you are driving the interior ambient lighting is continually but subtly changing from one shade to another and witty because this German SUV tells jokes when you ask it to, and rather good ones at that.

Why don't oysters give to charity? Because they're shellfish, for example.

Want another one? Why does six fear seven? Because seven, eight, nine.

Well, maybe not. But if the jokes don't live up to your standards the car certainly will.

The new generation GLA, which hit British roads in the summer, has far more road presence than its predecessor thanks to new muscular hunches and coupe-like lines.

And the macho looking re-styled grille with its large three pointed star badge and the power domes in the bonnet make this a real eye catcher.

Along with sharper looks comes more space. A height increase of 10 centimetres means far more headroom for front seat travellers while rear seat passengers now enjoy far more generous legroom.

And there is a serious side to the jokes, they are all part of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) which allows you to use voice control for numerous on-board features so you don't have to take your eyes off the road.

The GLA is the smallest of the German luxury car maker's SUV range but from the inside never feels small at all and shares the same quality feel of its much larger siblings.

And that's probably as well because while it's Merc's baby SUV it's still an aspirational car which is reflected in the price tag of more than £44,000 for the highly spec'd 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus model driven here.

The interior is business-like and up-market with seats in a mixture of man made leather and Alcantara, a centre console in a piano black finish and carbon-fibre-look panels on the dashboard and doors.

Two 10.25 inch screens which merge into each other dominate the view for the driver, one containing the traditional rev counter, speedometer and on-board computer and the other the display for the satellite navigation system, rear view camera and numerous on-board features.

The latter display is accessed via a touch sensitive pad - complete with hand rest for bumpy roads - on the centre console.

The increased height of the GLA over the A-Class hatch on which it's based ensures not only better all-round visibility but a feeling of being more in command. And despite the extra elevation there's very little roll on fast corners.

The eight-speed automatic column change gearbox is typically Mercedes, smooth in operation and with plenty of power when you kick down on the accelerator. Sixty two miles per hour comes up in a lively 7.3 seconds.

Paddles behind the steering wheel allow for manual gear changes when the mood takes you and a centre console switch allows you to toggle between different driving modes including sport, comfort and eco.

You can also switch to off-road to take advantage of the car's four-wheel-drive, although I think few owners would opt take their GLA off the highway.

Despite being a diesel this 2.0-litre model is impressively quiet and smooth leaving the cabin refined and stress free.

It's a model which is packed with a host of enviable luxuries including a double glass sunroof, heated seats, electrically adjustable seats and an extensive range of safety features including active lane keeping assist and active steer assist.

And it's nice to see the vision from the rear view camera is always crystal clear as the lens is hidden behind a panel which opens up as you engage reverse.

FAST FACTS

Mercedes-Benz GLA 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Premium Plus

Price: £44,160

Mechanical: 190bhp, 1,950cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving all wheels via eight speed automatic gearbox.

Max Speed: 136 mph

0-62mph: 7.3 secs

Combined MPG: 49.6

Insurance Group: 37

C02 emissions: 130 g/km

Bik rating: 31%

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