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Merc brings GLA-MOUR to SUV market 

IT took a bit of time but Mercedes finally stepped into the small SUV market earlier this year.

The stylish newcomer oozes quality and is aimed at taking sales from fellow prestige models like BMW’s X1and Audi’s Q3 as well as the top-selling Range Rover Evoque.

The new GLA-Class, based on the A-Class, is the latest compact model from Mercedes as it continues to build on its growing sales in this market.

Priced from £25,850, the GLA arrived with a choice of four engines, two petrol and two diesel, with a top-performance 45 AMG, boasting a 360bhp 2-litre petrol engine, added to the range in the summer.

There is a choice of SE or AMG Line models featuring either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.

The test car was a 220 CDI 4Matic AMG Line and looked a real gem sitting in my driveway.

This model comes with 18-inch AMG alloy wheels but options fitted to the test car included a £495 night package which brought five-spoke 19-inch alloys as well as a number of high-gloss black features and AMG body styling on front, side sill and rear apron.

There is a high level of standard equipment in the interior which included particularly comfortable front sports seats.

With its quality feel you would probably be quite happy with the standard fit but options are there if you want them.

The test car also came with a premium plus package, consisting of active park assist, including Parktronic, auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors, electrically folding exterior mirrors, heated seats, bi-xenon headlights with headlight wash, easy-pack tailgate, panoramic glass sunroof and dual-zone air condition.

All these extras added to the car’s appeal but they also add a further £2,365 to the price.

You might find the column-mounted gear selector a bit strange at first as you move from park into drive but you soon get used to it.

And once on the road there is plenty to enjoy.

With its four-wheel drive, road grip was excellent during a journey in some extremely wet and windy conditions.

You can use the wheel paddles to move up and down the gears but I didn’t find this necessary.

The seven-speed auto box was fast to react when needed and moved through the gears without fuss.

The 2.2-litre 170bhp diesel engine produced plenty of power for this model, performing quietly enough most of the time and only a little bit noisy at start up.

I didn’t test the GLA’s off-road capabilities but didn’t find anything at fault with its handling or ride comfort on the tarmac.

There was little body roll, and confidence grows as you take bends at speed and enjoy the car’s agility.

A standstill to 62mph time of 8.3 seconds means you can race swiftly out of the blocks and with a top speed of 134mph you won’t be lacking power as you move up to maximum legal speeds.

Excellent fuel economy figures of 55.4mpg combined, 47.1mpg urban and 62.8mpg extra urban will also attract cost-conscious motorists.

Interior comforts are good for driver and front passenger with plenty of leg, elbow and headroom in the rear.

Boot space is decent for this type of vehicle at 481 litres, extending to 1235 litres with the rear seats folded.

At a cost of £31,035, without options, this GLA is highly attractive and looks more than capable of gaining a fair lump of the compact SUV sales for Mercedes.