Base Price: $31,300
Price as Tested: $41,885
EPA City/HWY: 24/32 mpg
Engine: 2.0L turbo-4 
Power: 208hp, 258lb-ft

Drivetrain: AWD


Almost all young adults and teens are concerned with their appearance on Instagram. Teeth whitened. Filter to look tanner. Muscles look bigger. The list goes on.

When I picked up my “Night Black” 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 test car at Okemos Auto Collection, I was surprised how little it was. In all the photos I’ve seen of the GLA, it appeared to have a very SUV-like stature and size. 

But, its petite body has curves in all the right places — most prominent with its voluptuous booty in the back.

At the front, my test car was accessorized with beautiful bi-xenon headlamps with LED accents ($850) that really give this relatively cheap “SUV” some class.

As if the Mercedes three-point star wasn’t big enough, my test car also had the “Illuminated Star” ($550) where a string of LEDs light up the front badge. At first I thought this option was too show-offy and outright stupid, but, I have to admit, the more I looked at it, the more I fell for it.

Inside, the GLA doesn’t make you feel like you’re in the entry-level Benz. The tops of the dashboard and door panels are covered in a high quality plastic. A soft-touch material with white accent stitching is found on the door panels and center armrest. Aluminum-like material swoops across the dash with grace and makes the gorgeous circular air vents pop. It looks cool lemme tell ya.

But after further inspection, the cheaper hard plastic found on the center console between the driver and passenger and lower dashboard seems out of place in an otherwise high quality interior.

The GLA also creates a very intimate driving environment. The windshield and side windows are pretty short, but having the optional “Panorama Sunroof” ($1,480) makes the cabin feel more airy.

As a part of the “Multimedia Package” ($2,480), my test car also had a seven-inch screen in the center of the dash to house Mercedes’ “COMAND System.” But don’t try to touch it because it’s not a touchscreen — thank the fussy German engineers who don’t want your oily hands dirtying their screen. 

But, the COMAND knob in the center console didn’t really make me miss having a touchscreen. Navigating around the system was fairly easy. At the top of the screen there are categories such as “Navigation,” “Phone” and “Audio” to help organize content.

Graphics on the system are nicely displayed. The Navigation map has nice easy to read graphics. The radio has a cool retro illustration when tuning the radio and when you’re playing music off of your phone, COMAND displays the song’s album artwork.

Under the “System” tab, there’s a hidden gem (if equipped with the 4Matic all-wheel drive system ($2,000)) where a digitalized GLA displays things such as your steering angle, tilt angle and grade percentage. All this is cool and great but I can’t imagine many GLA owners will do much — if any — off-roading beyond running over pebbles in the mall parking lot. 

But, by far, the best feature of the interior is the “Harmon/Kardon LOGIC7 Surround Sound System,” a part of the Premium Package ($2,300). Turning up the volume, I was blown away by the way music sounded. Voices come in extremely clear. The bass can be well heard and felt without it distorting the music.

Because it has surround sound, I felt encapsulated by each song. For instance you may hear the vocals in the front speakers and other instruments such as drums behind you. I even sat in the backseat to see how the experience would differ. It was eargasmic. 

While in the backseat, I was fairly comfortable behind my driving position. With my 5’9” frame, I had an iPhone sitting landscape’s worth of knee room and enough headroom to prevent claustrophobia. With the panorama sunroof, the rear passengers also get a smaller sunroof — but expectantly doesn’t open.

Behind the backseat, there is a decently sized trunk that measured four North Face backpacks wide, two and half deep and almost two tall that can be accessed by the standard power liftgate. 

But, where you really want to be is in the drivers seat.

Driving the GLA is a pure joy. Sitting slightly higher than the typical sedan, the driving experience already feels very car-like. The steering is nicely weighted with a nice amount of road feel — making it very fun to drive around curvy roads.

Along with the great handling, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder elevates the experience. Handled by a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, shifts are made extremely quick — especially apparent when using the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. But, at low speeds there are occasional awkward hiccups when shifting from reverse to drive for example that create pauses or slight jerks — almost like a manual transmission.

Although 208 horsepower doesn’t sound like a lot on paper, it gets the GLA moving. There’s good low-end torque to help nudge you in front of traffic but once the turbo is spooled up under harder throttle inputs, power comes on quick. Releasing off the throttle you can hear a nice turbo whistle and some slight cracks and burbles from the exhaust.

At stoplights, with the standard “ECO Start/Stop system,” the engine occasionally shuts off to help achieve 24-mpg city and 32-mpg highway — then restarts as soon as you lift off of the brake pedal.

The GLA also rides well — striking a nice balance between comfortable and firm.

Overall, the GLA is a great small SUV. With the small luxury SUVs gaining huge popularity, the GLA is a great new entry to the segment. Although it may appear slightly enhanced in photos, the 2015 GLA250 won’t deprive you of a good time —even if it’s trying to be something it’s not.

SPECIAL THANKS TO: Okemos Auto Collection
2186 Jolly Rd, Okemos, MI 48864
(517) 853-2600