First Drive

The story: Mercedes has added plug-in power to the majority of its small car range, with five models now available from the A-Class hatchback to the SUV GLA.
Category:Small crossover
Key rival:BMW X1
On sale:Now

The arrival of the GLA plug-in hybrid takes Mercedes’ small car PHEV line-up to six models with the A-Class saloon and hatch, the CLA coupe and shooting brake, the B-Class and now the GLA small crossover.

All deploy the same 218hp combination of 1.3-litre petrol engine and 75kW electric motor. The GLA is the least efficient of the six due to its higher ride height and poorer aerodynamic efficiency, so has an electric-only range of up to 38 miles and CO2 emissions of up to 42g/km.

The PHEV is only available in three plug-in specific trim levels that start with the Exclusive, which costs a shade under £40,000, roughly in line with a GLA220d AMG Line Premium; it’s slightly less well equipped but significantly cheaper in tax, running costs and fuel, as long as it’s charged properly.

The powertrain itself isn’t always the smoothest, occasionally stuttering when switching from electric to petrol, but the new GLA handles tidily and looks more grown-up, with a very distinct mini-GLC feel to it. It’s a bit more anonymous and
not as characterful as a result, with the previous GLA having more of an individual crossover look to it, where this is much more part of the Merc SUV family.

The boot space drops by 50 litres to 385 litres to accommodate the PHEV bits and pieces, but is still a reasonable space for the class, while the interior shares its fixtures and fittings with the rest of Mercedes’ small car family, which comprises A-Class, B-Class, CLA, and GLB. It’s classy, with the top-spec model getting the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster to go with the same-sized infotainment screen that dominates the cabin. The rest of the cabin is a touch cosy.

paul barker

The verdict

PHEV makes company car sense financially, and the plug-in is priced within reach of the regular petrol and diesel models