Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG – Star in shining armour

When the Revvvolution team took the CLA45 AMG out for a spin, we were impressed at how Mercedes-Benz’s AMG department had managed to squeeze so much out of a 2-litre plant. It has visibly expanded from the V8s of the 63-range AMG cars to the compact segment where the CLA, A, and now, the GLA45 sits.

You would not be wrong to say that the A, CLA, and GLA all share the same heart – for the new GLA45 AMG basically looks and feels like an upsized A45 AMG. And if you place it on the comparison field with fellow brand rivals, you would soon realise that the GLA stands in a unique position – it doesn’t really fit into any category of comparison.

Exterior

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Similar to the GLA250 4MATIC that we tested a while back, the GLA45 AMG stands as a crossover between an SUV and a sedan.

On its own, the GLA-Class exudes little road presence when compared to the rest in its family, such as the CLA and the A. But weave in the bits and pieces of sportiness that Mercedes-Benz has incorporated and you get significantly more road presence and aggressiveness.

Up front, Mercedes-Benz’s signature AMG twin-split grille compliments the large air intakes the GLA45 boasts. The Edition 1 standard – introduced to mark the first year of the GLA model’s production – features red trims on the intakes, side mirrors, rims, as well as the rear to accentuate the car’s visibility. And while we’re at it, the Edition 1 presents you a roof spoiler, bringing the stance of the GLA45 to the next level.

When we drove the GLA250, we felt that the car was significantly bulkier and a little more difficult to handle compared to other sedans. The GLA45 packs on slightly larger fenders to conceal the massive 20” shoes it’s wearing.

Interior

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Most Mercedes-Benz looks the same on the inside, and the GLA45 is no different compared to its CLA45 and A45 cousins. The Recaro bucket seats provide excellent seating positions for the true racing petrolhead.

Despite the fact that the GLA pronounces itself as an SUV-sedan crossover, the seats provide you with a low yet comfortable driving position. The interior leather is lined with accents of red trimmings, and complimented with red seat belts to bring out that adrenaline-yearning driver in you. Additional AMG aluminium trims and finishes, packaged together with the sports steering wheel and solid paddle shifters constantly remind you that you’re not sitting in an ordinary three-pointed star.

The GLA45 shares the same wheelbase as the A45, measuring at 2,699 mm. Despite this similarity, the GLA45 feels a little roomier compared to its A-Class cousin, perhaps due to the width of this crossover. Unfortunately, this little bit of spare room still would not make the third passenger at the rear feel most comfortable, thanks to the transmission tunnel running through from the front.

But one thing the taller adult would be grateful for, would be the ease of entry to the GLA45’s rear compared to the A-Class’, where the sloping roofline of the latter never fails to pose a problem.

Out at the rear, the GLA45 swallows much more than its A45 cousin – the boot holds up to 420 litres of luggage, a huge improvement compared to the A45’s 341 litres. Sufficient for a medium-sized luggage, but unfortunately not big enough for a full-sized golf-club bag.

The Drive

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Similar to the A45 and CLA45, the GLA45 shares the same 2.0 litre turbocharged plant beneath the hood. It pairs you up with a seamless 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, as well as Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive technology to enhance your ride.

The heart of the GLA45 puts out 360 horses and gives you the pleasure of 450 Nm of torque beneath your feet. This, combined with the gearbox, shoots you to the 100 km/h mark in just short of 5 seconds.

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As per the rest of the compact AMG range, Comfort mode would give you a reasonably smooth ride, probably the most ideal for the fuel-economical driver. Press the button to bring it to Manual or Sport and you enjoy the ferocious growl of the AMG Performance exhaust. Like what they say, the harder you push, the more you get – the exhaust note blips with a resounding crackle if you push it upwards towards the red-zone.

Compared to the CLA45 which we tested, the GLA45’s steering felt a little lighter and more comfortable, despite it still offering you top-notch feel when cornering at high speeds. The GLA45’s ride quality is significantly better when it comes to the most uneven of roads with countless potholes and paved sections.

But compromises have to be made, and the GLA45 suffers in the aspect of body roll. Standing significantly taller and heavier than the A45 and the CLA45, the GLA45 does experience a little bit of body roll, and doesn’t add up to the dynamic experience you would get on the earlier two AMG models.

Conclusion

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The launch of the GLA was a good move by Mercedes-Benz to up its game in the crossover segment, and the introduction of the GLA45 AMG just topped the icing on the cake. It has the roar of a tiger, the heart of a beast, and it stands on a platform whereby it is somewhat difficult to classify it into the different categories amongst its competitors.

While it may suffer from body roll, the pros certainly do outweigh the cons – for you do get a better ride compared to the rest of its compact AMG cousins. Coupled with a large(r) boot space and improved accessibility to the rear, the GLA45 does stand out for the adrenaline-filled family man with adults to ferry.

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We like:

The improved ride quality. Also, the GLA45 feels roomier compared to the rest of the compact AMGs.

We don’t like:

You would suffer from slight body roll if you were to really push the car around (sharp) corners.

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