You need all of it, do not you? Easy to park, but spacious inside. Efficient and full of life. Docile, but additionally burly—identical to a grown-up SUV. These are all probably the reason why you are taking a look at subcompact crossovers. Oh, you need sporty and opulent, too?
If an SUV extant hits all these marks, we have but to drive it. But between the 2021 BMW X1 and the redesigned 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250, there’s excellent news: You can have most of it. However, one provides you extra—much more—in the way it backs up the badge it wears.
To resolve which is healthier to dwell with daily, we drove metropolis streets, bustling freeways, and curvy roads in between as a result of whenever you need all of it, you need to attempt a bit little bit of all the pieces.
Small Outside, Big Inside
Looking on the specs, you may suppose there is a subcompact crossover copy machine in Germany; the X1 and GLA are sized nearly the identical. Despite its redesign, which added dimensional increases virtually all over the place, the GLA is just below 2 inches shorter in size than the BMW, although now a half-inch taller and wider.
Inside, the X1 has a considerable headroom benefit in each rows, however it trails the GLA in legroom. For 2021, the GLA gained a whopping 4.5 inches of rear legroom, which we instantly observed. “The rear seats are useful now. I can actually sit behind myself comfortably,” stated 6-foot-tall Associate Online Editor Stefan Ogbac. I can match behind him, too, a shock given my almost 7-foot stature.
We each really feel comparatively squeezed at the back of the X1. However, Ogbac noticed that there is positively extra cargo area, however that comes on the slight price of rear-seat legroom. Indeed, the BMW has a much bigger trunk and underfloor storage space. Neither of our take a look at automobiles incorporates a spare tire, although.
So the X1 is extra utilitarian, whereas the GLA feels extra spacious. That’s an inexpensive tie at a standstill, however our favor shortly turned after we began driving.
Sporty? Sort Of
Again, the spec sheet signifies extra similarities than the expertise yields. Both pack 2.0-liter turbo-four engines, making 221 hp within the Mercedes, 228 hp within the BMW, and an equal 258 lb-ft of torque every. Both are linked to eight-speed computerized transmissions: a dual-clutch kind within the GLA and a standard planetary unit with a torque converter within the X1. Both automobiles on this comparability have elective AWD. We previously recorded the X1’s 0-60 mph time at 6.Eight seconds, and we estimate the GLA will likely be inside a decimal place. EPA-rated gasoline economic system is 24/33 mpg metropolis/freeway within the GLA and 23/31 mpg within the X1.
Here’s the humorous factor: The X1 is sportier, however it does not drive higher. Handling, like in many modern BMWs, feels indifferent and synthetic. Ogbac commented: “There’s less body roll in the X1, but I still don’t trust it because there’s zero feedback coming from the steering wheel. It’s just numb and overly heavy.” The X1 presents itself as a sporty SUV. But driving it like one feels a bit sketchy.
While climbing up a set of switchbacks, BMW’s xDrive AWD system appears prepared to ship energy to the rear axle—as soon as the engine decides to make energy. Boost takes a second to construct, and the transmission’s reluctance to downshift into the powerband does not assist. Even working in sport or guide mode, acceleration feels additional away than we wish it to be.
Meanwhile, the redesigned GLA feels genuinely SUV-ish, fairly not like its high-riding hot hatch predecessor. Ogbac suggested: “Don’t get too excited when you throw it into a corner because it will roll all over the place.” However, that keel is checked by the properly weighted, correct steering. The GLA’s dealing with feels much less agile however imparts a way of predicable stability.
We a lot want the GLA’s drivetrain. Its acceleration, whereas not thrilling, proves solely ample. The engine feels clean and refined, aided by the quick-thinking transmission that’d snappily drop gears to cook dinner up energy. Still, that dual-clutch clunks and fumbles a bit at low speeds.
The BMW’s brakes supply extra exact modulation, however the pedal additionally emits an undue hydraulic noise absent within the Mercedes. That stood out to us greater than any distinction in braking efficiency.
Between these two, the X1 corners flatter and turns in additional shortly, making it really feel sportier than the GLA. Nonetheless, the GLA’s higher composure and adept drivetrain allow us to push it simply as onerous. We in the end want the Mercedes for enjoyable driving. Look, neither feels legitimately sporty—they’re subcompact SUVs, in spite of everything. But you are after luxurious, too, proper?
Comfort and Luxury
If you are upgrading out of one thing fundamental, the X1 may appease you. But in case you’re accustomed to the finer issues and will not tolerate compromise, the GLA is your solely selection right here.
No longer is a three-pointed star badge the GLA’s most noteworthy luxurious characteristic. Its cabin is fashionable; the turbine air vents, slick HVAC controls, and layered trim items look snazzy. Key touchpoints just like the steering wheel and armrests are plush, not like the agency seat cushioning. Exploratory prodding uncovers some plasticky supplies, however construct high quality feels sturdy general.
The GLA’s stress-free, quiet experience upholds its luxurious goals. On our take a look at route, we had been conscious of, but unbothered by, bigger street imperfections, whereas coarse and cracked pavement virtually go unnoticed. Some secondary physique motions outcome from this supple suspension damping, however that may be a tradeoff we respect. The GLA feels as composed on freeways and metropolis streets because it does on winding roads.
Switching into the X1 marks a stark distinction. Its cabin structure supplies an ethereal really feel, although it lacks design inspiration. Ogbac referred to as it “austere” with construct high quality “barely above that of a mainstream car.” Like within the GLA, high-touch areas are padded, however trim particulars really feel cut-rate. Various buttons and switchgear lack the satisfying tactility that evokes an upscale aura. We’ve skilled nicer interiors in crossovers that make no claim to luxury.
In pursuit of sportiness, the X1 provides up a number of consolation. This tester’s elective M Sport suspension feels stiff with out offering commensurate responses. Road defects that the GLA erased had been abruptly conspicuous, jostling the X1 round. The elective sport seats felt higher bolstered than the GLA’s normal chairs however did not insulate us from the brittle experience. Ogbac questioned how the experience might be this a lot worse, provided that the BMW rides on 18-inch wheels whereas the GLA had heavier, elective 19s.
As unconvincing because the X1 was as a sporty crossover, it was even much less convincingly luxurious. As such, we a lot most popular settling into the fashionable, cosseting GLA.
Few automobiles can compete with a brand-new Mercedes’ tech. As normal, the GLA is supplied with 7.0-inch infotainment and gauge cluster shows, two USB ports in every row, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth streaming, and extra. Our tester upped the dazzle issue with its twin 10.3-inch elective shows.
Benz’s MBUX infotainment interface can show a mind-boggling range of data. Adding to the comfort (or confusion) is the truth that it may be managed through the touchscreen, a console trackpad, or small buttons on the steering wheel. Still, if there was ever a characteristic or setting we could not find, we merely requested the automobile. Saying “Hey, Mercedes” introduced the digital assistant to consideration, which just about faultlessly interpreted our instructions.
The X1 has helpful tech options like an ordinary 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen and the identical connectivity talents because the GLA, plus built-in navigation. But its lack of an all-digital gauge show hints at its age. Further proof is the older iDrive infotainment system, which works through the touchscreen, console dial, or voice controls. Newer revisions elevate features out of this one’s complicated menu construction.
Lane departure warning is included on the X1, the GLA has blind spot warnings, and each have computerized emergency braking and rain-sensing windshield wipers. Even as economic system automobiles achieve quite a few standard driver aids, adaptive cruise management and lane hold help price further on this duo.
Newer automobiles aren’t all the time higher. Newer tech usually is, although, so the GLA 250 has this benefit.
Bimmer or Benz?
Ask for all of it, and you will not get all the pieces. The X1 and GLA 250 every have their very own capabilities and compromises, however each carry the load of aspirational insignias. Especially contemplating their related pricing, just one really justifies its badge.
It is not the X1. Its cargo could also be its greatest attribute, because it offered loads of area inside a small footprint. As a complete, although, we could not discover a lot to love concerning the X1. Despite some dealing with benefits, its listless powertrain and pointlessly stiff suspension negated any sporty enjoyable. Its lackluster cabin did not appear match for a luxurious automobile. BMW, bigger grilles or bluer badges will not redeem the X1; it is time for a significant replace, if not a full redesign. The X1 has been in the marketplace since 2015, and it reveals. Our recommendation: benchmark the GLA.
Yes, the GLA prices $885 extra to start out and $7,100 extra as-tested. It’s value it. Spacious, fashionable, soft, and high-tech, this Mercedes is correctly luxurious and strikes us as a greater worth. Its 2021 redesign made the GLA really feel extra SUV-ish and fewer enjoyable, however it stays composed when flung into corners. Shortly after swapping into it from the X1 I discovered myself muttering “This is so much nicer.” That’s the purpose, and it is why the 2021 GLA 250 wins this comparability. It’s the one we might fortunately dwell with daily.
|POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS||2021 BMW X1 xDrive28i||2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4Matic|
|DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD||Front-engine, AWD|
|ENGINE TYPE||Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head||Turbocharged I-4, alum block/head|
|VALVETRAIN||DOHC 4-valves/cyl||DOHC 4-valves/cyl|
|DISPLACEMENT||121.9 cu in/1,998 cc||121.5 cu in/1,991 cc|
|POWER (SAE NET)||228 hp @ 5,000 rpm||221 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|TORQUE (SAE NET)||258 lb-ft @ 1,450 rpm||258 lb-ft @ 1,800 rpm|
|REDLINE||7,000 rpm||7,000 rpm|
|WEIGHT TO POWER||16.2 lb/hp||15.Eight lb/hp|
|0-60 MPH||6.8 (MT est)||6.5 sec (MT est)|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed computerized||8-speed twin-clutch auto|
|AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO||3.20:half.15:1||4.33:1 (1,2,5,6,R); 2.96:1 (3,4,7,8)/1.99:1|
|SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar||Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; multilink, coil springs, anti-roll bar|
|BRAKES, F; R||13.0-in vented disc; 11.8-in vented disc, ABS||13.0-in vented disc; 12.6-in vented disc, ABS|
|WHEELS||7.5 x 18 in forged aluminum||7.5 x 19 in forged aluminum|
|TIRES||225/50R18 95V (M+S) Pirelli Cinturato P7 (run flat)||235/50R19 99H (M+S) Continental ProContact GX SSR (run flat)|
|WHEELBASE||105.1 in||107.Four in|
|TRACK, F/R||61.5/61.6 in||63.2/63.2|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||175.5 x 71.7 x 62.9 in||173.6 x 72.2 x 63.Four in|
|GROUND CLEARANCE||7.2 in||5.2 in|
|TURNING CIRCLE||37.Four ft||36.1 ft|
|CURB WEIGHT||3,700 lb (MT est)||3,500 lb (MT est)|
|PAYLOAD CAPACITY||899 lbs||893 lbs|
|HEADROOM, F/R||41.9/39.Four in||39.0/38.0|
|LEGROOM, F/R||40.4/37.Zero in||41.0/38.0|
|SHOULDER ROOM, F/R||55.6/55.2 in||56.0/55.0|
|CARGO VOLUME, BEH R/R||58.7/27.1 cu ft||50.5/15.Four cu ft|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$43,295||$50,395|
|AIRBAGS||6: Dual entrance, entrance aspect, f/r curtain||10: Dual entrance, f/r aspect, f/r curtain, entrance knee|
|BASIC WARRANTY||Four yrs/50,000 miles||Four yrs/50,000 miles|
|POWERTRAIN WARRANTY||Four yrs/50,000 miles||Four yrs/50,000 miles|
|ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE||Four yrs/Unlimited miles||Four yrs/50,000 miles|
|FUEL CAPACITY||18.7 gal||12.7 gal|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON||23/31/26 mpg||24/33/27 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||147/109 kW-hrs/100 miles||140/102 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.75 lb/mile||0.71 lb/mile|
|RECOMMENDED FUEL||Unleaded premium||Unleaded premium|