2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d road test review
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d, 220d 4Matic dimensions, styling, architecture
As for the GLA's styling, it draws heavily from the new crop of Mercedes SUVs. The more organic LED headlamps give it a unique face in the family but the concave grille, dotted with chrome on the top AMG Line version, the large Mercedes logo and the wide air dam are all familiar Mercedes design cues. Similarly, there is more restrained bodywork all around with simple surfaces and minimal cuts or creases. The rear-end with the wide two-part LED taillamps and the sharp sill below the raked rear windscreen accentuate the GLA's width quite well, even if it can sometimes look a bit familiar.
These elements make for a machine that captures much of the richness you expect from any other Mercedes and the AMG Line design pack on the top GLA 220d 4Matic seen here heightens this sense further with its straked bumper elements, the subtle chrome accents on the cladding and the faux exhausts and vents at the rear. The 19-inch AMG wheels, unique to this version and finished in gunmetal grey, make the GLA look especially intentful.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d, 220d 4Matic interiors, features, practicality
Much of this is shared with the new A-Class but some thoughtful distinctions have been made. The layered dash layout of the A-Class has been replaced with a flatter face and a contrasting panel on the passenger side. Also different is the tubular design for the door handles which is finished in cold stainless steel. This section highlights the very thoughtful use of materials and finishes that is a standout with these entry-level Mercedeses. But if we had to be picky, the bank of piano-style switches on the dash could have felt a bit less plasticky and the plastic around the footwell seemed to miss the softness that you would find in something like an E-Class.
The Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d AMG Line is done up in an all-black theme and feels particularly rich with its brushed aluminium highlights, the flat bottomed steering wheel, contrasting stitching and well-placed suede patches. The Progressive Line(there are no 'base' variants as such) is more in the mould of a traditional luxury car, with textured wood and beige that adds a greater sense of space. Although, the large dual-pane sunroof doesn't make the AMG Line feel too hemmed in either. Both versions get many large storage spaces, especially in the centre console with its neat wireless charging pad, and under the armrest. The front seats are very supportive and fully powered if a bit too stiffly padded. They even get the seat kinetics function usually reserved for the likes of the GLE. This works well by making minor adjustments to the seatback and base to keep you from feeling stiff after a long journey.
The new architecture has brought with it a 30mm longer wheelbase, although improved space management has freed up a significant 114mm of rear legroom. Elbow room and shoulder room have also seen sizeable increases here but three abreast will still be a tight fit, and the bulged door cards make ingress/egress a tad difficult for some. The enlarged dimensions have brought the GLA up to speed with rivals and should keep all but the tallest passengers comfortable, the large space below the front seats useful at eking out a bit more legroom. We would have liked the bench to offer a tad more under-thigh support though and again slightly softer cushioning. A separate climate zone here would have been nice too, there is a two-zone climate control on offer otherwise.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d, 220d 4Matic Engine, gearbox, performance
The motor's performance matches this aural surprise too. Combined with the eight-speed DCT, revs are kept well below 2,000rpm in most daily driving situations so it's always a calming experience whether you are crawling along in traffic or making quick ground on the highway. There is a confident surge of torque when you need it to help you along throughout this. But switch to the Sport mode, and this motor shrugs off this prim character very easily. The gearbox, about as intuitive as any DCT out there, now holds revs longer so you have more of the powerband to play with. It'll even engine brake quite aggressively when needed and put you smack in the middle of the powerband on downshifts. The paddle shifters offer that extra degree of control but are largely unnecessary if you aren't one to drive your GLA hard.
Ironically, the few grouses we have here is with the DCT. It holds downshifts a tad longer than ideal in the Eco or Comfort modes, so slowing down from speed can take a bit more attention. And as is typical of many such DCTs, shifts in the lower gears can feel hesitant and jerky sometimes. The OM 654 has consistently topped our fuel efficiency tests for any segment it finds itself in and with a combined fuel efficiency of 14.32 kmpl for the AWD and 14.72 kmpl for the FWD, we think this could be the GLA to get despite the higher upfront cost.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d, 220d 4Matic Ride and handling
As for regular city use, the GLA can feel a tad stiff over bad patches of road with thuds quite audible over bumps and potholes. This sense is heightened by the 50-profile tyres on the AMG Line version but with quite a soft rebound this doesn't become especially uncomfortable. The Progressive Line trim with its 18-inch wheels softens out the rough edges further. Some of the dynamism of the 4Matic is lost with this version, but this is hardly evident in regular use.
The 4Matic version also comes with an off-road mode that splits torque 50:50 between the two axles, but with its low profile wheel and tyre combinations and crossover shape, the GLA is best restricted to the odd dirt road.
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d, 220d 4Matic Safety
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d, 220d 4Matic Verdict
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d 4Matic real-world mileage and performance
0 to 100 kmph - 7.51s
30 to 50 kmph - 1.5s
50 to 70 kmph - 1.9s
60 to 80 kmph - 2.1s
100 to 0 kmph - 40.5m, 3.1s
City fuel efficiency - 13.36 kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency - 17.20 kmpl
Overall fuel efficiency - 14.32 kmpl
2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 220d real-world mileage and performance
0 to 100 kmph - 7.67s
30 to 50 kmph - 1.7s
50 to 70 kmph - 2.1s
60 to 80 kmph - 2.1s
100 to 0 kmph - 40.8, 3.3s
City fuel efficiency - 13.38 kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency - 18.14 kmpl
Overall fuel efficiency - 14.72 kmpl
Images by Anis Shaikh
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