It’s indisputable at some time everyone on the planet with just the faintest idea of what a car is will have a serious desire for a brand-new Mercedes-Benz. But which one? Well turning to SUVs we’ve driven a Mercedes-Benz which will forever change the very DNA of prestige high performance compact SUVs – that would be the just-launched GLA 45 AMG.
As we sit here now looking at the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio, those related high-performance compacts leap out of the page. A 45 AMG, CLA 45 AMG and now the GLA 45 AMG…seems suddenly the ML 63 AMG and CLS 63 AMG (both with credentials to be labelled ‘World’s Best’) need to get cracking because the little’uns are giving them a run for their money.
It’s typical Mercedes-Benz really. Identify a market segment which has growth potential and then stroll into town with simply far-and-away the best product that segment has ever seen.
Think this is hyperbole? Well we’ve just spent two days driving the Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG on-road and racetrack (yes, an SUV flat-out on a race circuit – read on) and no, no it isn’t hyperbole.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG Overview
Rounding out the best-in-the-business GLA lineup, Mercedes-Benz has sprung a surprise by pricing the GLA 45 AMG at $79,900 – undercutting its major rival by $2,000. Sure this is the luxury end of the compact SUV segment but ‘2-large’ is significant folding for anyone.
Regular readers of www.carshowroom.com.au will know we have massive wraps on the Mercedes-Benz GLA so you can probably make some early predictions on the GLA 45 AMG. ‘Astonishingly good’ would be a good start.
Under the bonnet is that remarkable turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine (with the awesomely good exhaust note) we know from the A 45 AMG and CLA 45 AMG. As we know, this is the world’s most powerful mass production 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine.
Then, of course, you add the usual formula of AMG goodness with enhanced internal and external styling and high performance, high-tech additions such as 20-inch AMG wheels, AMG sports suspension, AMG Night Package, AMG High-Performance Braking System, COMAND navigation and Harman Kardon Audio.
On the safety front, the Mercedes-Benz GLA range already comes standard with Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Pre-Safe, Attention Assist and the pedestrian-friendly Active Bonnet. The GLA 45 45 AMG adds handy extras in the form of Lane Keeping Assist and Mercedes-Benz’ adaptive cruise control called DISTRONIC PLUS.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG Engine
In a nutshell the Mercedes-Benz M133 is the world’s most powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. Seems the engine dominance currently being enjoyed by the world’s oldest car company in Formula One racing has already flowed to the rod car division.
Of course AMG runs on the ‘one man one engine’ philosophy and each M133 engine is hand-built by one person whose signature is affixed.
As we know, when this baby gets singing, the exhaust note – all crackles, bangs and pops on over-run and gear changes – recalls the previous turbocharged F1 era or, more to the point, the current high-tech DTM (German Touring Car Championship) racers. It’s our favourite road car exhaust note.
With 265kW of power at 6000rpm and peak torque of 450Nm from 2250-5000rpm, the Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG certainly boogies - zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds (4.8 seconds for a luxury compact SUV!) - but still returns combined-cycle fuel consumption of 7.5l/100kms.
Drive is to all four wheels via the AMG version of Mercedes-Benz’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system and the AMG Speedshift DCT dual-clutch seven-speed transmission (other GLA models use the similar but less-sporty 7G-DCT seven-speeder). The AMG seven-speeder has a comfort mode and two manual modes (‘M’ and ‘S’) and includes a brilliant ‘Race Start’ function (dial it up, hold the throttle flat and let go of the brake…thanks to a clever AWD system there’s a split-second of wheel-spin to get the revs up, an automatic shift the second gear just north of 6000rpm, then awesome traction and head-spinning acceleration).
Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG The Interior
The unmistakable look of an AMG interior is obvious wherever you look inside a GLA 45. No other comparable company does prestige high performance interiors quite as well as AMG.
Sports seats in Artico leather get things started (our ‘Edition 1’ model test car featured the ‘Performance’ seats which are otherwise optional) with red contrast stitching and racy red seat-belts. The sports steering wheel is a leather-wrapped three-spoke design (again our test car had the ‘Performance’ version with Alcantara grips – brilliant) and has manual adjustment for rake/reach for a superb driving position.
Instruments come from AMG and include an AMG main menu and to the left is the hallmark GLA free-standing centre screen for the Harman Kardon audio and satellite navigation.
Throughout there’s lots of carbon-fibre look and brushed aluminium highlights to reinforce the high performance/AMG nature of the GLA 45 AMG.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG Exterior & Styling
AMG has certainly weaved its magic on the outside of the Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG. Looking at the detail suggests lots of time spent in wind-tunnels.
The front=-end sees a unique apron with front splitter and AMG ‘twin blade’ grille in matt titanium grey, black air deflector ‘flics’ and large air intakes. Bi-xenon headlights are standard.
The side sees more matt grey in the form of side sill inserts and aluminium roof rails.
At the rear look for a diffuser (matt titanium grey of course), and twin AMG exhaust tailpipes. Edition 1 models gain a rear spoiler, red-painted brake calipers and more goodies – check the options list.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG On The Road
Where do you put a compact SUV through its paces? On Melbourne’s high-speed Sandown Park race circuit of course.
Seriously, that’s how good the Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG is. And not just a token once-around-the-block with cones to slow us down.
In fact, Mercedes-Benz AMG Performance Driving chief Peter Hackett invited us onto the full Sandown Park circuit and told us to tighten our helmets and go as hard as we liked, Your www.carshowroom.com.au correspondent completed over 12 laps at racing speed, assorted media colleagues did likewise and all of the Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMGs on-hand performed faultlessly…the only other comparable vehicle which could contemplate this sort of stuff would be the Audi RS Q3.
On the race circuit we operated in full-on sports/manual mode and we did the same when we tackled the familiar twists and curves of the excellent roads in Melbourne’s Yarra Valley. And that’s the thing – in comfort mode, the Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG was…well, comfortable…but a switch to the ultimate sporty settings didn’t induce an overly harsh set-up.
And on the traffic-snarled suburbs from Melbourne Airport through the north-east suburbs, the GLA 45 AMG trundled along with no complaints.
Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG Issues
Nothing to report here. The challenge for Mercedes-Benz buyers will be choosing between A 45 AMG, CLA 45 AMG or the new GLA 45 AMG.
That’s a ‘First World Problem’ we wish we were personally confronting!
Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG Verdict
With the GLA 45 AMG, Mercedes-Benz has yet again delivered a vehicle with ‘Best Of The Best’ written all over it. And at $79,900 it is very sharply priced as well.
The combination of that turbocharged engine performance, brilliant chassis dynamics and the family-friendly interior…well all things combined this is probably the AMG ‘A’ model we’d buy.
The GLA 45 AMG is so good we suspect Mercedes-Benz AMG will be working hard to keep up with global demand…we’d suggest getting your order in. A couple of our mates got in early and are counting the sleeps until their GLA 45 AMGs arrive…lucky buggers!
Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG The Competition
Audi’s RS Q3 is a definite Car Showroom Favourite. But, with 228kW/430Nm, Audi’s turbocharged 2.5-litre, five-cylinder has now been outgunned by Merc’s mercurial 2.0-litre and there’s no denying the price differential is $2K in favour of the GLA 45 AMG with the RS Q3 stickered at $81,900. The flips-ide of course is availability and with long lead times for GLA delivery (such is it worldwide popularity), the Audi RS Q3 plays right into the hands of the impatient.