The GLA is technically a small SUV, but because the GLA45 AMG has been lowered it’s actually closer to a hot hatch than the SUV, which makes it comparable to the Golf R and the Focus RS.
Looks wise I’m happy to say this particular example doesn’t have the boy-racer AMG appearance kit which adds a spoiler lifted from the Forza racing game. This particular is a bit more subdued. Overall the look of the GLA45 is a like a tall hatchback. There’s more ground clearance than other hatchbacks, but it’s not high like an SUV. The front end is dominated by the 3 point star grill flanked by a nice set of LED headlights shining the road nicely. I particularly liked the side cladding under the doors, it gives the GLA a more rugged look even though it’s more for aesthetics than anything else.
Inside the cabin is where a bit of that boy racer comes out, the vents around surrounded by red and the dash has a carbon panel that stretches the width of the vehicle with some graphics that’s more common on Hondas than Mercedes. Overall the cabin does feel dated especially with the dial pad on the radio. It does make it easy to access 100 radio presets but it just seems odd and out of place in 2018. Just as out of place is the infotainment screen. Sitting large and proud in the centre of the dash it’s operated by a rotary knob rather than touch, and it’s just a bit cumbersome to use. One thing I did notice about the interior is the use of lower-end plastics. Found in the lower dash trim, centre console, and the most obvious B pillar. When taking the seat belts off,utalizing it smacks this pillar and makes a loud crack sound which is just unpleasant in an upscale vehicle such as this.
While there are optional sports seats the example we have here are the standard AMG seats. Although they are still quite sporty mostly due to they’re harder than like padding they lack the lateral bolsters on the bottom cushions allowing for a bit of slip, luckily they are covered in Alcantara to minimize this. For the rear passengers, there is plenty of room to move around. The front buckets are quite large, so view up front is a bit blocked, and knee room is a bit compromised. Behind the rear seats is a decent sized cargo area, big enough for most cases this GLA still has the practicality of a hatchback.
The main reason why you would get the GLA45 is really the gem under the hood. This little 2L turbocharged 4 cylinder works harder than any 4 cylinders before it. Making 375hp and 350lb-ft of torque, it uses witchcraft to conjure up this kind of power. Comparing specs Ford uses 2.3L to make 350hp in the Focus RS, and VW uses a 2L to make 296hp. With the additional hp it should naturally mean the GLA is fast, well it is with the 7-speed automatic and 4matic AWD the GLA can sprint from 0-60mph in 4 seconds, faster than both the Focus and the Golf. But I guess that should come at no surprise to anyone. With all this power it still manages to return decent fuel consumption if and only if you don’t drive like a bafoon. Rated at 10.7L/100km in the city and 8.3L/100km on the highway I manage just about 12L/100km in the week I had utilizing some of the powerband.
The best thing about this little engine is not only the power, and speed but rather sounds. It has a strong muscular beat to it. Upshifts are greeted by farts in between each shift and lift off the throttle there’s a very pleasant over-run. Although it’s not as out of place as the Abarth’s exhaust, it’s still very odd hearing this kinda noise coming from this little CUV. But with the AMG badge on the back, it has to live up to the nameplate.
On the road, the GLA45 handles nicely, with a firm ride even with dampers set to comfort there’s little to no roll. Driving around the GLA is sort of like holding a big bow of jello. It’s jiggly! The spring rate is high to increase the sportiness factor with a hit on comfort. Combining the harder ride with harder seats this GLA isn’t the most comfortable vehicle to drive. But let’s be honest, who in the right mind is buying the AMG variant for comfort? It’s all about pushing it hard into the corners and make loud pops and bangs with every gear. And when it is pushed it doesn’t disappoint. While it’s still a front wheel drive in design the 4matic does transfer power to the rear wheels to try and balance the car. Dive a little harder into a corner the front will scrub wide but power out the corner with a bit of throttle and the GLA just darts.
In terms of fun, this little hot hatch is very lovable. It’s less engaging than the Civic Type-R but it’s on a whole different scale. Looking at the price point this example here costs $63,390 with a few options. Overall the GLA45 AMG was a real gem, while the GLA250 makes an excellent Car2Go vehicle the 375hp beast makes this one amazing hot hatch.