When initially launched back in 2013, the GLA 45 represented a new entry-level performance utility vehicle by Mercedes-AMG, albeit a subcompact one, for enthusiasts. Last year, the small sporty SUV was redesigned from the ground up and is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Appearing more grown up on the outside, underneath the hood beats the heart of the most powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine currently in production.
Utilizing a similar powertrain as the AMG CLA 45, the GLA kind of resembles a shrunken down crossover version. The face in particular shows a strong resemblance between the two: the similarly-shaped LED headlights, upright chrome slats on the grille and huge air intakes sitting overtop an integrated splitter that optimizes airflow.
Though doing away with a lot of the previous boy-racer-ish elements like exterior red accenting, some elements remain for example the raised roof spoiler, big four-finned rear diffuser and polished lip on the 19-inch black alloy wheels. The angry-looking two-piece LED taillights and dual round tailpipes out back are pretty cool, however.
Interior highlights include lots of ARTICO man-made leather and DINAMICA microfiber upholstery, standard touchpad and ergonomic palm rest and optional performance steering wheel featuring a red centre stripe and flat bottom.
The vehicle is truly a hoot to drive, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the above referenced boosted 2.0-litre mill extracting an incredible 382-horsepower, which is an additional seven over the outgoing offering, and 354 lb-ft of torque. There’s a bit of lag as the turbo spools up, but once it does the thing simply takes off emitting the most glorious note out of the AMG exhaust system when the dynamic button on the centre console is pressed.
Handling is on point too as engineers have reinforced the body shell of the GLA 45 as well as bolting in a lightweight aluminum plate underneath the motor and diagonal struts on both ends of the underbody. AMG RIDE CONTROL provides adaptive damping at each individual corner in response to driving input and road conditions.
Keep an eye out for the 2022 models slated to arrive in dealerships soon.