Is the Mercedes GLA I a commercial crash-grab? Yes. Does it work and sell like hotcakes? Yes. I’m jealous of it and should I admit it’s a commercially successful car? Yes.

 Mercedes has always been good in this area of sniffing out what customers want and even offering those things. Moreover, Mercedes have always been the drug dealers in the automotive world. They would give you the C Class which was an entry-level car and it was Mercedes enough to like but it wasn’t Mercedes enough to be satisfied in the long run with just a C Class. And so they made you move up to an E Class after you got rid of the C Class, and if you were more educated or got to the age where you could afford one, you moved from the E Class to the S Class.


Then they realized by 2010 that Mercedes had a Toyota reputation in that they were cars bought by old people with money, even the C Class W204 had a old man car feel to it. So they got down to business and thought about how to make a car for young people and they thought about experimenting with the A-Class name because they didn’t want to dirty up the name of any model (like BMW did when they brought out the 5 Series GT so they wouldn’t call it the 7 Series Hatchback) and in 2013 the Mercedes A-Class went on sale.

Sales were pretty good initially but not good enough for the teutons, so they thought of making a Mercedes CLS Lite and launched the CLA, a good-looking saloon that instantly swept the A Class off the market. Do you still see the regular A Class on the roads? Nope. CLAs were everywhere instead because they caught on with the youth. Good looks, even better badge and somewhat affordable price.


And now we finally come to the Mercedes GLA I. Because after the saloon came the cross-over hysteria and Mercedes said they had to take notice of what was going on in that sector because it was far too profitable to ignore. And for the GLA, they’ve got down to business. It uses the shared platform of the A Class and B Class, the European models were built in Germany directly, and on the design side, they consulted with Infiniti who was going to launch their own Q30 which is a rebadged GLA. So yes, the Mercedes GLA I is an A Class on stilts and with a slightly more attractive design, and yes, it was made for profit because the car proved a success in the market.



Mercedes GLA I Engines


  • 1.6 Turbo of 122 and 156 horsepower – The simplest, entry level engine and probably all the engine you will ever need. Essentially the M270 engine is related to the M274 2.0 bigger brother, so the issues are in common and I will talk about them under the 2.0 Turbo engine section.
  • 2.0 Turbo of 184, 211, 360, and 381 horsepower –  So, we’re now at the M274 2.0 Turbo. The point is that the engine has been with us for some time, being the famous 200 CGI that we saw in the W204 C Class C200 CGI and the W212 E Class E200 CGI. The engines are very reliable per total however when the timing chain is to be replaced, the actuators have to be replaced as well and all the fun gets you somewhere in the region of 1000 euros. But at least the timing is replaced once in a lifetime for most owners.


  • 1.5 dCi of 109 horsepower – Yes, it’s that fabled Renault engine that Mercedes fans criticize and Mercedes buyers love. At least for the Mercedes GLA I buyers who generally aren’t interested in the performance, because for the GLA it’s all about form, not function. And with the 1.5 diesel you had a cheap car to buy (compared to the other GLAs), economical and reliable, at the expense of performance. Or simply you are the sort of person that couldn’t care less about performance.
  • 2.2 CDI of 136 and 170 horsepower – End of the line for the famous 2.2 CDI, which has bolted to everything from the Sprinter to the S Class and which has also been put in the Mercedes GLA I. A very good engine by the way, but like any modern Euro 5 and Euro 6 you have to be careful not to drive it around town or you’ll get in trouble comparable to Vinnie Jones calling you for your money back. And in the case of the 2.2 diesel, you’ll start with particle filter and injector issues and I don’t know what’s more expensive, Vinnie Jones calling me or replacing the injectors on the 2.2.


Mercedes GLA I General Issues

  • It is not an off-road car. I know, it looks like one, but it only looks like one. That’s the whole point of the Mercedes GLA I – it’s a crossover that just looks like it can but the reality is different. And it’s not even a tall car to say it’s an A-Class on stilts in the sense that the Captur is a Clio on stilts.
  • And while we’re on the subject of off-road driving, my advice is to avoid the 4Matic 4×4 system altogether. You don’t even need it, and it’s not very reliable, and the 4Matic’s suspension tends to fail more often and it’s more expensive. So yes, stick to a front wheel drive version.
  • The automatic transmission is the same 7G-Tronic we’ve become accustomed to. Some say it’s decent some say it’s indecent, because the 7G-Tronic is the kind of gearbox that either is fault-free or is the ultimate garbage, there is no middle ground. Now it remains to be seen whether you want to risk it or play it safe with a manual gearbox.
  • As with any modern Mercedes made strictly to take your money, the Mercedes GLA I comes armored with technology and systems and so there is alot of stuff that may or may not work properly. Do check every single button before buying.



Mercedes GLA I Verdict

It’s a crossover attempt, with front-wheel drive, a manual gearbox, and a 1.6 or 1.5 engine. Basically, it’s a luxury Nissan Qashqai. And that’s why the Mercedes GLA I has sold like hotcakes and will continue to do so. Am I a fan? No. But I have to admit it’s a car for the times.


What engines do you recommend? The 1.6 Turbo and 122 horsepower petrol should be all the engine you need for the Mercedes GLA I. As for the diesel, the 109 horsepower 1.5 dCi will clearly be the star and the main engine sold in the GLA.