Mercedes Benz GLA 45 AMG is the high on performance version of the GLA SUV housing a 2.0 litre, four cylinder, in-line petrol engine mated to an automatic gearbox. Exteriors miss out on the chrome finished front radiator grille, fog lights in front/rear, rear window wiper/washer, power antenna and smoke head lamps. Interiors too come devoid of heated seats in the front as well as rear, glove box cooling, voice control, folding table in the rear and touch screen among few others. While on the safety front, follow me home head lamps, clutch lock, engine check warning, anti-theft alarm and side rear airbag have been left out.
DESIGN AND STYLE ;
The Mercedes GLA-Class has a unique look in general. Its roofline and greenhouse are proportionally tall comparatively, and its beltline rises high to match. It reaches tall, wanting to be an SUV, or even a crossover, but it just comes across more as a hatchback. That is certainly not a bad thing, however, as it gives ample room inside for four passengers to ride in comfort and five in a pinch. The taller ride height also eliminates that sports car on-the-ground feel while providing a good view outward.
With this GLA’s AMG treatment, it gets its own style grille with the satin double bars bisecting it. The beautiful 19-inch, AMG wheels really set the GLA apart and look even better with the drilled and slotted rotors with the grey brake caliper residing just behind.
Despite the GLA 45 AMG’s self-confusion with a hot hatch, it still carries a few visual cues that Mercedes classifies it as an SUV. The front and rear bumpers, along with the rocker panels sport satin-colored “armor” while the wheel wells are trimmed with black plastic to protect the paint.
CABIN AND COMFORT ;
The dashboard of the GLA45 AMG is awfully similar to the CLA45 AMG’s which isn’t a bad thing at all because the unit is very sporty and fit-finish levels are of the highest order. Over the regular GLA, the 45 AMG gets a flat bottom steering wheel, proper gear lever (instead of the column mounted stalk), red stitching on the steering, dashboard and seats, red seat belts, bigger infotainment screen, climate control AC and rear AC vents. The car carries all the equipment from the top-end GLA so there are a ton of features on offer.
The regular seats of the GLA have been replaced by a pair of sporty, single-piece, bucket ones which hug you tightly as you floor the throttle. Disappointingly though, one has to manually adjust the steering and there is no push button start/stop either, so you still have to insert the key to turn on the car, yes, in an AMG! That said, there is decent space inside the cabin and compared to its AMG sibling, the GLA45 AMG is the more spacious vehicle as the CLA lacks headroom at the rear. So people at the rear in the GLA45 AMG have decent enough space to be comfortable.
ENGINE AND GEARBOX ;
In a word, fun. Sure, the GLA 45’s 1991cc engine is likely to lose the title of being the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine to the 444bhp version of Volvo’s Drive-E motor, but it still delivers big thrills. After all, 355bhp (at 6000rpm) and 45.8kgm (between 2250-5000rpm) are not meek numbers in the least. Performance is strong from just under 2000rpm with a more serious shove at around 3000rpm. Thereon, there’s no let up in power right up till 5500rpm. As four-cylinder motors go, it sounds rather nice too. While that characteristic burble of the V8s in the larger AMGs is missing here, this one still sounds bassy at low revs and growls quite angrily when you press on. In Sport mode, the sounds are amplified, with pops from the exhaust adding to the entertainment quotient. Simply put, the GLA 45 sounds and gathers speed every bit like a junior AMG should. Mercedes claims a 0-100kph time of 4.8 seconds with the GLA set to its ‘Race Start’ setting. Helping put down all that power on to the road is Mercedes’ 4-Matic all-wheel-drive system. The system transfers up to 50 percent of torque to the rear wheels when it senses the need. The thing is, you can’t really escape the front bias of the system around corners. It doesn’t drive with the fluency of a rear-wheel-drive car. That’s not to say it isn’t fun to pilot on a twisty stretch. Grip levels are good, the steering has nice weight to it and turn-in is good too. More often than not, you’ll think you are driving very sporty hatchback. You can add a hint of directness to the steering and firmness to the suspension by tweaking the electronics too. Speaking of which, you’ll like how the electronics let the tail do a little jig before they kick in if you lift-off the throttle mid-corner. What aids the GLA’s everyday usability is its ride quality. The handling-oriented suspension and those 19-inch tyres do mean the ride is firm, but it’s not jarring at average speeds. Be too adventurous over potholes though and the GLA 45 will thud through. As you might have guessed, this is not an ‘SUV’ in the true sense. Other niggles centre around the gearbox. The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox occasionally feels hesitant in Comfort mode and at times, doesn’t readily grant downshifts in Manual mode (where the paddle shifters come into play) either. The transmission feels best when left to its own devices in Sport mode.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
If riding 15mm higher than the normal A-class puts this car in the SUV bracket then I better take my car to the mechanic and increase the height by 10 more millimetres. I wouldn’t call this an SUV.The GLA45 AMG is as much an SUV as gibberish is a language. But whatever! I’d say is a ridonculous hatchback!Put your foot down in sport mode and the car wakes up as if you are prodding a tiger with a stick. Make the rpms go all the way to red line and you’ll hear the butterfly valves pop and flutter, making a distinct sound that sends a wave of happiness to whoever is driving it.Cornering is precise and though the steering response may seem slightly dead, its something one tends to overlook while having tremendous amounts of fun in the GLA45.
Don’t take her for granted it might say “4MATIC” on the trunk it doesn’t have some fancy electronic AWD system sending power to various wheels etc.In Sport mode there is an exact 50:50 split of power between the front and rear wheels, which means that going all out on the corners can put in you in some bad spots.The suspension is quite stiff making bumps some what jarring for the occupants, but it is an AMG after all so don’t expect too much of a plush ride.
SAFETY AND SECURITY ;
A vehicle with this immense a build, and this extraordinary a performance ability, is not to be let loose without the firmest safety. This model seals the high end build of this machine with the best of safety features put together. It is equipped with tight seatbelts, keeping the passengers strapped-in always. Also, well cushioned airbags give them ample protection at all times. Furthermore, the body format of this vehicle is a mighty, impact resistant one, meant to absorb collisions to the maximum extent possible. Aids for driving and handling further raise the safety quotient. The night vision feature, along with the heat detection of pedestrians outside, together ensures that everything is kept under the tightest control for the driver, and that mighty performance and elegance are wrapped up with the finest safety qualities possible.
Concluding that the GLA 45 AMG is the ultimate everyday performance car is hard to argue. It’s mind-bendingly quick, good looking, easy to get into and out of and reasonably versatile if you have a family of four. The only big downside I can think of at this moment is that it’s a niche within a niche market i.e. the high-performance crossover segment. Sure, there’s the Porsche Macan Turbo which shares a similar appeal but there is no hiding away from the fact it’s ludicrously expensive at well over a crore. At Rs 70.90 lakh (ex-showroom), the GLA 45 AMG is much easier on the pocket although it is still not cheap by any definition. Pricing aside, why Mercedes-Benz India chose to bring in a niche product and whether us Indians need a high-performance crossover that costs a bomb goes out the window the moment you plant your foot on the throttle. It’s a world away from driving to business meetings or dropping the kids off to school – the kind of duties the regular GLA is meant to deal with.