23 March 2021

Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 2021 Car Review

AMG cars by Mercedes-Benz are not usually hard to spot - their distinctive engine sound and bold styling makes them certainly stand out in the crowd. This car – the Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 – is a small crossover/SUV of the A-Class family.

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Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 2021
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Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 2021
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Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 2021
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Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 2021
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Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 2021
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Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 2021
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Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 2021

We would call this car a ‘sleeper’, or a wolf in sheep’s clothing - it may look more understated on the outside than its other family members, apart from maybe the larger alloy wheels, but hit the Sport+ mode button and the exhaust volume erupts with its breath taking sound giving you instant goosebumps, the suspension tightens and the transmission changes lightning fast. 

Launched in the second half of 2020, the new GLA range received some significant changes to the model it replaced.

It now has more off-road potential or qualities if you were ever to want to take one a little way off the beaten track, all thanks to the new Off-Road Engineering Package.

The new GLA is 122mm taller overall than the outgoing model, meaning a correspondingly higher and more characteristically SUV-like seating position in the front row also brings increased headroom for the driver and front seat passenger. Meanwhile, passengers in the second row will enjoy increased legroom, in spite of the new GLA being overall 14mm shorter in length than its predecessor.

Models in the GLA range are equipped with 4MATIC - the all-wheel-drive system that shuffles power to where it’s most needed – and also with the Off-Road Engineering Package as standard, a move first seen on the Mercedes-Benz GLB SUV. The GLA is positioned as its sporty brother, and a more lifestyle-oriented SUV.

The Off-Road Engineering Package adds an additional Off-Road driving program via the DYNAMIC SELECT controller, a downhill driving function (DSR, or Downhill Speed Regulation) and an off-road animation with incline angles in the media display.

Alongside the optional MULTIBEAM LED headlamps, the package also includes a special light function for off-road driving, which widens the spread of the beam for better illumination during low-speed manoeuvring. All models in the range feature hallmark off-road design features such as the upright front section, short overhangs at the front and rear and protective cladding all around.

The GLA 35 4MATIC builds on the sporty specification of the GLA 200 and 250, adding extra power and torque with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four outputting 225kW and 400Nm in conjunction with an AMG Speedshift DCT eight-speed auto. Fuel economy comes in at 8.0L/100km, with a CO2 rating of 179g/km.

Other AMG-specific enhancements include a steering wheel-mounted AMG Drive Unit, an AMG performance steering wheel in Nappa leather, AMG RIDE CONTROL sports suspension, AMG high-performance brakes, an AMG exhaust, AMG speed-sensitive power steering, the AMG Night Package and AMG-specific bodywork, Comfort Sport Seats in Lugano leather and 20-inch AMG 5-Twin Spoke alloy wheels.

Inside, the GLA 35 is a game of two halves. There’s beautiful two-tone leather seats and trim, with brushed aluminium inserts adding a sporty element. Sit in the driver’s seat, however, and it looks like you could be piloting a rocket, with the car’s huge display and infotainment screens, including a very informative HUD (head up display) and the aforementioned AMG sports steering wheel with buttons with which to carry out pretty much any function you wish. You can even say ‘Hi Mercedes’ to get the car to perform any function for you. The huge panoramic sunroof floods the car in natural light, which can also provide a unique ambience on overcast or stormy days.

The colour of our review car is an optional paint upgrade called Designo Patagonia Red Metallic and was complimented with black trim and wheel arch covers.

Our review car also featured the Vision and Driving Assist packages over and above the standard vehicle. These add features like Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC (Incl. Cross-Traffic Assist), extended automatic re-start in traffic, Active Lane Change Assist, Route Based Speed Adaptation. While the Vision Assist adds features like Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Multibeam LED headlamps and the Parking Package which features a 360-degree camera.


We love that this car presents sophisticated styling in a very lifestyle enticing package, hardy looking exterior and off-road trimmings, AWD versatility, easy-care interior, but at the same time a powerful, sporty and full of the latest tech and safety systems. There’s no tow rating for this one, but you can put 75kg on the roof.

At a glance


Mercedes-Benz GLA 35 4Matic


2.0L four-cylinder turbo


From $99,900 (+ORC)

ANCAP safety rating

Not rated at time of review

Power and Torque

220kW, 400Nm



Fuel economy/CO2

8.0L/100km, 179g/km

Towing capacity



4Matic AWD

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload


Safety systems

            • Active Brake Assist with semi-autonomous braking function
            • Active Lane Keeping Assist
            • Active Bonnet
            • Nine airbags
            • Cross Wind Assist
            • Blind Spot Assist (passive) with exit warning assistant
            • PRE-SAFE® accident anticipatory system
            • ATTENTION ASSIST

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