Let’s make no mistake, the little Turbo, Direct Injected 2-liter occupying the GLA45 AMG is no joke. Although it’s small, the AMG engine also packs a Manny Pacquiao punch. In fact, it was quite challenging containing myself during a week of daily driving around Montgomery County, Maryland with the German pocket rocket which darts from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.
Mercedes-Benz (M-B) churns out more hits than country pop star Taylor Swift and hones ingenious strategies toward meeting consumer demands with intellectual technology, performance attributes and designs appealing to businessmen and women, Fit Fathers and families, female groups and now the youth generation with the CLA and GLA. If the markets sways in a direction that would routinely put pressure on mostly any other automaker, M-B will simply Shake It Off without hesitation and deliver yet another new model such as the GLA45 AMG. The sporty hatchback (M-B categorizes it as a compact SUV) was a warm welcome since my week of testing included several runs to Lowes for a ceiling fan and new bathroom installation materials; Michael’s to pick up fresh artwork for the living room; and grocery shopping for the family. That’s right, I’m a Fit Father and actually handle most of the matriarchal roles of our household. So the GLA was ideal for loading items in the rear (especially since the second row seats fold flat), parking in and out of shopping lots and dashing the Minions to school and practices. Aya and Mika definitely felt like the Cool Kids this week.
“The response to the Concept GLA45 AMG during the world premiere at the Los Angeles International Auto Show has reaffirmed our decision to launch this new AMG model,” stated Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Management Board at Mercedes-AMG GmbH. “Currently no segment is growing faster than that of compact SUVs. For Mercedes-AMG it is therefore logical to make a dynamic statement in this segment with the GLA45 AMG. Our new high-performance-SUV not only offers the world’s most powerful series-production four-cylinder engine, but also impressively low fuel consumption and emissions figures.” To Moers’ point, the motor is hand-built and inscribed with the builder’s name just like every other AMG engine.
Dully note that the sporty hatch is more aggressive than tranquil. The kids loved that I could transport them to classes quicker than most of the other vehicles we have evaluated this winter due to the fact that the AMG Performance 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system and AMG 3-Stage ESP Stability Control increase driver confidence in cold and wet weather. Although my wife loved the vehicle’s dirt bike auditory soundtrack from the AMG Performance Exhaust ($450), she wasn’t that wild about its forthright acceleration from the turbo 4-cylinder nor the palpable road feel caused by the super stiff and independent front and rear AMG Sport Suspension. Clearly Misa is not the target customer. Packing 355-horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque from 2,250 rpms doesn’t sound like much, but AMG tunes every horse with Kentucky Derby in mind allowing the GLA45 AMG to gallop with authority. The AMG becomes both efficient and cerebral after it’s linked with the intuitive 7-Speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT Transmission (dual-clutch gearboxes spearhead quicker shifts) with paddle shifters mounted on the AMG Performance Steering Wheel designed with a racing flat bottom ($500) and customizable drive modes (S = Sport, C = Controlled Efficiency and M=Manual). You can imagine, when left alone my demeanor changed instantly from David Banner into The Hulk so the AMG and I would see eye to eye!
Stylistically, the GLA model has sharper edges and angles than what you will see from curvilinear hatchbacks/compact SUVs like the Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3. Basically, you will either love it or not. It had to grow on me for the week since I would prefer the S-Class Coupe, S-Class or GL. My typical preference is a big body vehicle with both performance and innovation as their defining attributes. Yet, our neighbor’s 23-year-old son was absolutely in love with it, especially the brown on Black 20” AMG 10-Spoke Alloy rims ($850). “It’s funky,” Corey clamored with adulation. But could he afford the $64,975 price tag is another question. Or would he instead consider a GLA45 AMG competitor – the 2015 VW Golf R with DCC & Navigation at $39,090? With an MSRP of $48,300 (excluding $925 destination) my Cocoa Brown ($720) loaner was spiced up with a cadre of option packages that influenced the $16,675 price jump. Including the aforementioned options, my ride also featured Blind Spot Assist ($550); PARKTRONIC with Park Assist ($970, not really needed since the GLA is very simple to park); Panorama Sunroof ($1,480); AMG Performance Seats ($2,250, bolsters are too tight for my size); the Premium Package ($2,300) with the harman/kardon LOGIC7 surround sound system; the AMG Night Styling Package ($750); and the must-have Multimedia Package ($2,480) that provides the COMAND system with navigation and a rearview camera.
Inside the GLA45 AMG is a cabin full of tech materials and wizardry reminiscent of an Embraer Legacy 650. Its multifaceted construction is emblazoned with carbon fiber, two-tone leathers, contrast stitching and gadgetry and distinctions throughout such as the hollowed gear selector and wide metal plates representing the pedals and footrest. Safety measures are omnipresent with well-known M-B staples such as COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, ATTENTION ASSIST and ADAPTIVE BRAKE Technology.
Are you a millennial looking for authentic daily adventures or possibly a Gen Xer needing to rekindle the joys of early life again? Well, consider an AMG with utility and urban capability, specifically the GLA45 AMG.