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The new Mercedes GLA looks pretty chunky in pictures, but when you walk up to it, and certainly when you drive it, you realise it's little higher than a tallish hatchback. In fact, within 10mm of a Focus.

How's it altered from an A-Class then?
Indeed they're closely related, though the external panels are all different. But whereas you'd expect the crossover version to look like a hatch on tiptoes (like the Audi Q3 does alongside the A3), here it's the crossover version that looks the better balanced. Somehow an A-class looks like a GLA that's been sat upon.
The 220CDI 4Matic is £30,030. But have you seen what everyone else wants for their crossovers with actual 4x4, not just front-wheel drive? The GLA no rip-off. And it's reasonably kitted: reversing camera, roof rails, air-con, colour centre screen with Bluetooth and media-in, DAB. The options are actually optional, not bare necessities.

Is it better than an A-Class, then?
At launch, I didn't like the A-Class. A poor Golf impersonator in my view: cramped in the back, and rough-riding. But some of its faults have been cured – the clunky DCT auto now has smoother and more responsive shifts in the GLA, and that software will be cascaded back to the A-Class. But somehow the GLA's soft ride and mature practicality make it feel much more like a real Mercedes than the A-Classdoes…

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