We’re aware that’s somewhat faint praise – and deliberately so. Because dynamically, as well as in other ways, the GLA isn’t quite the distinguished crossover hatch that it ought to be.
In fact, it’s quite a way off the standards set by the true benchmark crossovers and compact 4x4s of this size and price. Whether you’re looking for real poise and response (Ford Kuga, CX-5), refinement and comfort (Q3, Honda CR-V) or just an expertly balanced compromise of both (Qashqai), chances are that you’ll be a bit unimpressed by the generally soft but still slightly brittle, run-of-the-mill way that the GLA conducts itself on most roads.
In isolation, it seems more than acceptable. There’s a consistent, well weighted steering system here, a reasonable balance of grip for cornering and a suspension tune with the compliance to deal comfortably enough with a bad surface. Roll control is also decent enough.
The GLA’s decent balance of grip makes it quite wieldy right up to the edge of adhesion, where a lot of equally high-sided cars default to understeer. Mercedes’ ESP system is more intrusive than many, though.