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REVIEW | Frugal 2021 Mercedes GLA 200d sure hits the mark

11 March 2021 - 07:36 By Phuti Mpyane
The new GLA adds to the crossover niche with Mercedes-Benz qualities of premium features at a price. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The new GLA adds to the crossover niche with Mercedes-Benz qualities of premium features at a price. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

By the measure of the thumbs-up the test car received during its stay, seemingly Mercedes-Benz and public sentiment have come to agree on one thing: the new GLA is exactly how a compact Mercedes crossover should stack up.

It’s tested here in GLA200d AMG Line guise with a wide and gaping AMG-style grille. Look towards the rear and you will see that the pronounced hips of its predecessor have been retained. It’s a much more appealing and harmonious shape now.

With its generous 2,729mm wheelbase the brand’s entry-level compact SUV is roomier than its ancestor by 29mm, and you feel it with the improvements in head, shoulder and leg room and a generous boot to load up lifestyle cargo.

The cabin is typically Mercedes in arrangement and décor and the illuminated turbine air vents dominate proceedings while the mood lighting adds some pizazz after sunset.

Merc’s square touch pad that controls the customisable MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) infotainment system is in there even though it’s never been the greatest. Thankfully the touch screen and touch-operated steering buttons gave a better service.

The roomier new cabin improves family friendliness. Picture: SUPPLIED
The roomier new cabin improves family friendliness.   Picture: SUPPLIED  

Standard luxuries in the AMG Line are modest and the best treasures were extra-cost options, including a panoramic roof (R16,400), AMG multispoke alloy wheels (R15,600), a digital display (R8,200) and much more.

It’s a pleasure to drive. The 2.0l turbo diesel motor sends its 110kW and 320Nm to the front wheels through a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s good for an 8.6sec dash from 0-100km/h and it tops out at 208km/h.

This new GLA never feels heavy, with little body roll, surprising poise and strong midrange torque to pull away from inside bends. Drive it with some attitude and it doesn’t tax you much on fuel. There’s lightness in its gait that also probably helped to achieve the respectable 5.9l/100km fuel consumption.

Its on-board safety systems are plentiful and promptly quell wayward driving. It’s designed to handle sterner road surfaces should you wish to wander off-road and the undercarriage felt high enough for life on gravel tracks.

It straddles a fine line between conventional, square-shaped SUVs and the trending coupe SUV niches. It’s normally pitted against the BMW X1, Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40 based on price and size but I wouldn’t be shy to consider BMW’s funkier X2 and Audi’s cheaper Q2 in my shopping list.

Much like most modern Mercs you need to dig deep in your pockets to furnish the GLA properly.

Yet despite too few standard luxuries and less power output than some key rivals, the GLA 200d offers one of the best combinations of practicality, attractiveness, value and driving characteristics that I have experienced in the segment. I’m all for it.

Tech Specs


Type: Four-cylinder turbo diesel

Capacity: 2.0l

Power: 110kW

Torque: 320Nm


Type: Eight-speed automatic


Type: Front-wheel drive


Top speed: 208km/h

0-100km/h: 8.3 sec (claimed)

Fuel consumption: 5.1l/100km (claimed) 5.9l/100km/h (as tested)

Emissions: 133g/km


Xenon lights, daytime driving lights, cruise control, remote central locking, Bluetooth, touch multifunction steering wheel, rain sensor wipers, MBUX infotainment system, keyless start, partial cloth + artificial leather, ABS brakes, active brake assist, stability control, seven airbags


Warranty: Two years/unlimited km

Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km

Price: R714,560

Lease: R15,276 per month (at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit)

Mercedes-Benz GLA 200d AMG Line

WE LIKE: Looks, spacious interior, driving dynamic, fuel consumption

WE DISLIKE: Most interior goodies are optional

VERDICT: What the GLA should have been from the start

Motor News star rating

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Audi Q3 40TFSI quattro Advanced line, 132kW/320Nm — R715,000    

BMW X1 sDrive20d, 140kW/400Nm — R724,392  

Volvo XC40 D4 AWD R-Design, 140kW/400Nm — R779,000

BMW X2 sDrive20d M Sport, 140kW/400Nm — R786,130