GLA is a stylish premium SUV

MERCEDES’ GLA has evolved from an elevated hatchback with roof rails into something more SUV shaped.

Now better suited to go up against the taller Audi Q3 and Volvo XC40, this new shape affords improved interior space for the premium entrant available with petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) guise.

The GLA 250e PHEV – driven here in range-topping AMG Line Premium trim – should be able to travel 48 miles on electricity before requiring assistance from its 1.3-litre petrol engine.

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Delivering 218PS, it also claims a 7.9 second acceleration to 62mph, a 130mph top speed and fuel consumption of 40.4 to 41.5mpg.

On our test, the GLA never felt quite as sprightly as these claims suggested, and working the engine hard would illicit a coarse soundtrack.

The GLA was also proved rather prone to breaking traction as the driven front tyres became over-awed by its electric motor.

Continuing Mercedes’ USP of delivering excellent cabin designs, however, its interior will have no issues gaining traction among potential customers.

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Grabbing the attention are turbine-style air vents, 64-colour ambient lighting and a 10.3-inch instrument cluster which sits alongside an equally large infotainment screen in a single, seamless panel.

An exotic-looking flat-bottomed steering wheel is another visual treat.

The touch sensitive pads it features – instead of physical buttons – to control the 225-watt sound system and sat-nav are a faff to use, however.

AMG Line Premium trim features augmented reality sat-nav, projecting directions onto footage of the road ahead on the infotainment screen. It is a novel system.

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A more practical feature are rear seats that can fold in a 40:20:40 split.

Sadly, the PHEV’s boot is 40 litres smaller than the petrol equivalent, at 445 litres. Bags of charging cables eat further into this capacity.

Mercedes’ GLA is a stylish premium SUV with a range with a class-leading cabin design.

Prices start at £35,625 but our test car came in at £47,445.

As such, unless you are a business driver keen to take advantage of the 26g/km CO2 emissions that result in an 8% BIK tax rate, my pick may be the petrol or diesel alternatives.