STUTTGART - Although there were a number of styling differences, the previous-generation Mercedes-Benz GLA made its relatedness to its hatchback sibling a little too obvious, with many simply labelling it as an A-Class in (designer) hiking boots. 

The second-generation that you see here aims to change all of that and it does so in the most obvious way, with a design that’s more akin to a shrunken GLC than a pumped up A. 

While it may look bigger, largely thanks to its three-window side profile, the new GLA is actually 5mm shorter than its predecessor, although the extra 10cm that it has gained in height does help lift it further into SUV territory.

While it consequently offers more headroom, Mercedes also says that there is “considerably” more legroom in the rear, despite the slightly shorter overall length.

On the engine front, the GLA upgrades to the new-generation four-cylinder turbopetrol engines that made their debut in the latest A-Class, and AMG has had a hand in things too, creating a GLA 35 flagship that gets the same 225kW, 400Nm 2-litre turbopetrol motor that powers the A35 hatch. Expect to get from 0-100km/h in just 5.1 seconds in this one. Power goes to all fours through an eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox and 4Matic AWD system. Of course, the GLA 35 also gets AMG-specific suspension, steering and exterior body components.

However, the engine that most buyers are likely to order is the 1.3-litre turbopetrol in the GLA 200 derivative, which produces 120kW and 250Nm, and gets from 0-100 in 8.7 seconds, according to claims. The GLA 200 is fitted with a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and buyers can choose between front-wheel-drive and 4Matic all-wheel-drive configurations.

Those going the AWD route can also look forward to the Off-Road Engineering Package as standard, which includes a downhill assist function, off-road media animation, an additional driving programme and (when Multibeam LED headlights are fitted) a special light function for off-road driving.

Although it bears a strong resemblance to the A-Class inside, with its wide free-floating screen and five turbine-like air vents, the GLA does have a different upper dashboard panel, which flows around the screen. Customers can choose from three wide-screen options: 17.78cm x 2, 17.78cm + 26cm and 26cm x 2. Naturally, the MBUX system with AI voice control is standard here, and it can be individually configured with a range of options, including full-colour head-up display. 

Another high-end option that’s now available in the GLA is Energizing Comfort Control, which combines various comfort systems including audio and massage functions to create a wide array of “feel-good programmes”. Adding to the comfort factor is advanced Energizing seat kinetics.

On the safety gadgets front, the Driving Assistance Package has been extended with new functions, including a turning manoeuvre feature and an exit warning function that alerts the driver to approaching vehicles or cyclists as well as a warning when pedestrians are detected near zebra crossings.

IOL Motoring