2019 MINI Countryman vs. 2019 Mercedes GLA

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Compared to metal, the Countryman’s plastic fuel tank can withstand harder, more intrusive impacts without leaking; this decreases the possibility of fire. The Mercedes GLA has a metal gas tank.

Both the Countryman and the GLA have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive, crash mitigating brakes and front parking sensors.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the Countryman the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 154 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The GLA has not been tested, yet.

Warranty

The Countryman’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the GLA’s (12 vs. 5 years).

MINI pays for scheduled maintenance on the Countryman for 3 years and 36,000 miles. MINI will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the GLA.

Reliability

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the Countryman has a standard 150-amp alternator. The GLA’s 115-amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the Countryman’s reliability 11 points higher than the GLA.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that MINI vehicles are better in initial quality than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks MINI 12th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 2 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 14th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that MINI vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks MINI 8 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the JCW Countryman ALL4 gets better fuel mileage than the AMG GLA 45 4MATIC (22 city/30 hwy vs. 22 city/28 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the Countryman’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The GLA doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

The Countryman has 2.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA 250’s standard fuel tank (16.1 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The Countryman has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the GLA 45 AMG’s standard fuel tank (16.1 vs. 14.8 gallons).

Transmission

An eight-speed automatic is available on the MINI Countryman, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a seven-speed automatic is available for the GLA.

Brakes and Stopping

The Countryman stops shorter than the GLA:

 

Countryman

GLA

 

60 to 0 MPH

120 feet

128 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

130 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the Countryman can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The GLA doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

The Countryman offers an optional space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the GLA; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

The Countryman has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The GLA 250 suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For greater off-road capability the Countryman has a 1.7 inches greater minimum ground clearance than the AMG GLA 45 (6.5 vs. 4.8 inches), allowing the Countryman to travel over rougher terrain without being stopped or damaged. The Countryman’s minimum ground clearance is 1.2 inches higher than on the GLA 250 (6.5 vs. 5.3 inches).

Chassis

The Countryman is 4.1 inches shorter than the GLA 250, making the Countryman easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The Countryman has 5.9 cubic feet more passenger volume than the GLA (96.9 vs. 91).

The Countryman has 1.5 inches more front headroom, .2 inches more front legroom, 2.1 inches more rear headroom, 10.5 inches more rear legroom and .8 inches more rear shoulder room than the GLA.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the Countryman’s rear seats recline. The GLA’s rear seats don’t recline.

Flexibility is maximized at the game, campground or a drive-in theatre in the Countryman when its optional tailgating rear seats are deployed, allowing people to sit facing out of the liftgate. (Do not use while vehicle is in motion.) The GLA doesn’t offer tailgating seats.

Cargo Capacity

The Countryman has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat up than the GLA with its rear seat up (17.6 vs. 17.2 cubic feet). The Countryman has a larger cargo volume with its rear seat folded than the GLA with its rear seat folded (47.6 vs. 43.6 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The Countryman offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The GLA doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the Countryman to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The GLA doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

Consumer Reports rated the Countryman’s headlight performance “Good,” a higher rating than the GLA’s headlights, which were rated “Poor.”

While driving with high beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the Countryman detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low beams. The GLA doesn’t offer automatic dimming high beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the Countryman offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The GLA doesn’t offer cornering lights.

To better shield the driver’s vision, the Countryman has a standard dual-element sun visor that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The GLA doesn’t offer a secondary sun visor.

To shield the driver’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side window, the Countryman has a standard extendable sun visor. The GLA doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the Countryman owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Countryman with a number “5” insurance rate while the GLA is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the Countryman is less expensive to operate than the GLA because typical repairs cost much less on the Countryman than the GLA, including $445 less for a water pump, $208 less for a muffler, $103 less for front brake pads, $246 less for a starter, $335 less for fuel injection, $140 less for a fuel pump, $73 less for front struts and $513 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the MINI Countryman, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Mercedes GLA isn't recommended.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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