The New 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA is a really fun little five-seater luxury SUV. It is the smallest SUV in the Mercedes-Benz range and I didn't think, given its size, that it would be a very practical family car. Let's see how we get on with our BabyDrive testing…
Prices for the GLA range from $55k all the way up to $107k for the top-spec model. We tested the GLA 250 priced around $66,500.
I have to start with how much I enjoy driving this zippy little SUV, it has that fun ‘go kart' feel where there is not the winter glove padding that you feel when driving most SUVs. That said, in comfort mode it is smooth and quiet to drive the kids around in and then you can slip it into sport mode once you've dropped them at school 😉
The Mercedes-Benz GLA looks great and this continues on the inside too, with grey leatherette seats and the same fun flowery shaped aircon vents that we enjoyed in the GLB seven-seat SUV and a seemingly seamless double media screen that wraps in front of the driver.
The media system is lovely and modern and in-depth. There were some standout features that I enjoyed using during my week with the GLA with my family. The seat kinetics was a favourite of mine!
Second is the “Hey Mercedes” voice control. Whenever you say “Hey Mercedes” you can ask it to do something, for example, turn off the air conditioning or open the sunroof. It is actually quite handy and I found myself using it more with the GLA than I did when I previously tested the GLB seven-seater SUV, so I imagine if you live with the car then it would become second-nature to use it.
The media system has Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as digital radio so you can access all the things you and your children listen to on your journeys.
You can control the media system using the front of the trackpad and buttons down in the central console…
…or I found the controls on the steering wheel the easiest and most intuitive to use whilst driving. Swiping the little black square enables you to scroll through things and pressing it selects them.
The camera image is crystal clear in the Mercedes Benz GLA, you can select from 360-degree views as well as the bird's eye view too.
When it comes to child seats, I found two child seats fit nicely in the back of the Mercedes Benz GLA.
We found it best to put a rear-facing child seat on the passenger side and a forward-facing child seat behind the driver to give the best balance of legroom, allowing a 182cm passenger in either front seat. There wasn't room for a third passenger in the central seat between two child seats.
There are ISOFix points in the two outer rear seats and top tether anchorages on the back of all three rear seatbacks in the Mercedes-Benz GLA, giving you flexibility for child seat positioning.
However, it is just as practical for a family, fitting a double stroller in the boot underneath the parcel shelf.
The boot floor has a protective carpet over it and a small dog would fit in the boot of the Mercedes-Benz GLA. The boot floor is nice and flat for an emergency nappy change too!!
There is no spare tyre underneath the boot floor, but there is a breakdown and tyre repair kit.
Storage in the front of the cabin is good too. The central console has two practically sized cup holders, a phone tray and a large central console box. The glove box will house your wallet and the net in the passenger footwell can store an iPad.
The door bins are a good size in all the doors and will hold a large refillable water bottle. Storage in the rear is minimal with just net map pockets and door bins.
One of my favourite features of the Mercedes GLA is the auto-lock and unlock doors which you can access from any door, you do not have to go to the driver's door first. This makes loading and unloading children and all their things much easier.
I wasn't a fan of the double sunroof in the Mercedes GLA with children in the back. I felt the fabric covering was not sufficient to block the heat of the Australian sun from cooking my babies as we drove along and it was a constant battle with the air-conditioning to combat the heat. On a longer journey, we actually blocked it with cardboard!
There is one gripe I have with driving the Mercedes GLA and I found the same thing with the Mercedes GLB when I tested it; I found the lane keep assist very sensitive, especially on narrow country roads where you're trying to avoid the verges and when I got close to the central line of the road it would brake quite violently which was quite shocking as the driver and disturbing for everyone on board. I appreciate this is a safety feature to prevent cars from crossing the central line and into oncoming traffic but it felt very sensitive and I found we turned it off within the media screen when driving on anything other than motorways.
Other than that, the Mercedes-Benz GLA is a surprisingly practical little SUV for our family of four. Its small size makes parking very easy and it's a great car for around town and school and supermarket car parks, then great fun out on the open roads. It still has room in the boot for a double pram and inside two child seats fit well in the back seats and the legroom allows for a 182cm driver in front of a forward-facing child seat or 182cm passenger in front of a rear-facing child seat.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA five-seat SUV has yet to be ANCAP crash tested but the old version scored a five star EuroNCAP test in 2014. It has nine airbags as standard.