Performance and SUV are two things which were never spoken in the same sentence but times have changed and so have people. The craze for crossovers and SUVs is soaring so high that enthusiasts too want their go-fast machines to have a crossover or SUV body style. This trend has emerged because sedans don’t offer the practicality that an SUV does. The latest performance crossover to hit our shores is the Mercedes GLA45 AMG, yet another offering from the Stuttgart automaker’s mad and speed crazy performance division. Brought in via the CBU route, the Mercedes GLA45 AMG does end up costing quite a bit, yet it’s among the more affordable of AMGs offered in our country
EXTERIOR AND STYLE ;
The modeling beauty of a company like this is destined to stand through time. This series is perhaps one of the most exquisitely structured machine to see our time. It has flawless metallic skin that is seamless and pure on every nerve. The entire body structure is wrapped under the classic 2:1 proportion of wheel to body height, bringing the most refined touch that only this car maker has preserved when crafting vehicles. The new design of this vehicle adds more focus and edginess to the build of this machine. The robust and hefty build gives it a flavor of dominance and power on the roads. Its front portion is wide and imposing, meant to give it the toughest bearing on the road. On both sides, wide and rectangular shaped headlights rest over the bonnet. They are integrated with LED headlights, framed by day-time running lights. This imposing look is further sharpened with a well sculpted bumper. The chrome finish on the lower grille tops off the exquisite feel of the front portion. Aluminum roof rails sit atop the vehicle. Sharpening its grandeur from the side are AMG side sill panels with inserts in matt titanium grey and “TURBO AMG” lettering on the front wings. Further accentuating the side profile of the car is a highly trimmed body shape, with well designed door lines and large, prominent fenders. It has 19 inch AMG 5-twin spoke design alloy wheels, further enhancing its side profile for the finest look possible. The hefty rear portion of the machine is loaded to the fullest glory with a AMG performance exhaust system in two chrome-plated twin pipe design.
INTERIOR AND COMFORT ;
You know its business as usual at Mercedes-AMG when you make your way inside the cabin and are surrounded by red seatbelts, body-hugging sports seats and drilled aluminium pedals besides the executive level appointments. The cabin design and layout of materials in here nearly mimics the regular GLA but with a tinge of more toys and luxury as standard. The Recaro designed sport seats do a much better job of holding you in place than those found in the regular GLA thanks to bigger bolsters. Plus, they are covered in leather with beautiful contrasting stitching, making the cabin that extra bit special to be in. What comes as a surprise though is that they do not sacrifice much in terms of seat comfort. Being an AMG, the GLA 45 comes with all the goodies imaginable in a car of its size. There’s the COMMAND infotainment system with a 7-inch screen, reversing camera, a panoramic sunroof, electric seats with memory function, bi-xenon headlights with daytime running LEDs and what not. The real purpose of this car, of course, is to be found only after getting behind the wheel. The sporty, three-spoke steering wheel with red contrasting stitching and the aluminium paddles shifters indicate the business end of things. With a variety of adjustments for both the driver’s seat and the steering column, finding the ideal driving position is fairly easy. The trim on the instrument panel is finished in brushed aluminium and in tandem with the stainless-steel AMG front door sills, emphasising the sporty character of the car.The cabin, otherwise, is identical to that of the regular GLA and that can only mean one thing – it is a bit short on space. While the seats themselves are very comfortable, there isn’t much space to move around, especially at the back. Visibility all round, too, is compromised by the thick A-pillars and the tiny rear glass. All things considered, the cabin is decently practical for urban commutes or a short weekend getaway although I suspect getaways in this car will be much quicker than those in the regular GLA.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION ;
Here is where the fun really comes in. The GLA 45 AMG is powered by a hand-built, 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder with a twin-scroll turbocharger that puts out 26.1 pounds of boost. The combination is good for an impressive 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.The engine is mated to Mercedes’ seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic with paddle shifters. It offers three selectable modes: Controlled Efficiency (or comfort), Sport, and Manual. The shifts come quickly, especially when in Sport or Manual mode and the generous amounts of throttle are being used. The shifts are followed by a snappy pop and burble as the sport exhaust belts its loud song. Accelerating is a joy both physically and audibly.
Mercedes includes its 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system to keep the power under control. The system uses torque vectoring that will send up to 50 percent of the power rearward when the extra grip is needed. While that doesn’t sound impressive, the GLA 45 AMG will happily wag its tail in oversteer around corners. Under normal operation, the 4MATIC system sends the majority of power to the front wheels in an effort to conserve fuel.Speaking of that, the EPA rates the GLA 45 AMG at 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. My heavy foot and thirst for hearing that exhaust crackle proved that the EPA numbers were more of an aspirational goal than a realistic target. I saw roughly 24 mpg combined over my 400-mile week. Keep it in Eco mode and stay off the throttle, and the SUV’s average does climb. Eco mode provides an automatic start/stop function for stop and go traffic, so by leaving that engaged and the lower-gear-holding Sport mode off, the mpg numbers do improve.
RIDE AND HANDLING ;
Despite being a SUV that by definition is supposed to give a commanding view of the road ahead, you sit fairly low in the GLA 45 AMG. The seats can be adjusted so you sit higher, yet even at its highest point, your line of sight isn’t high enough for an SUV. That said, you don’t need to get into a neck stretching exercise unless you are driving on broken patches. When you are though, the GLA 45 AMG impresses with its passable ride quality for such a sporty car. The suspension is not as stiff as in the CLA 45 AMG according to Mercedes, and as the GLA is higher off the ground, it is a far more usable car. AMG’s sports suspension setup also ensures you don’t lose out on the dynamics front. The front struts are fitted with stiffer steering knuckles, you get bigger anti-roll bars and the multi-link rear axle is newly developed for this car as well for a surefooted ride at all times. Compact dimensions and quick acceleration make it a very easy car to drive in traffic – it’s just point and shoot kind of a car, and it does that every time you demand of it without any drama whatsoever.
Walk around the rear of the GLA 45 AMG and you see the 4Matic badge pasted on. The otherwise front wheel drive MFA platform built SUV in this AMG guise transforms itself in the handling department. Power still goes to the front wheels all the time until the rear wheels demand torque and when they do, up to 50 percent of it is made available for precise control all the time. Aiding in the precision is the directing steering. It is such an easy car to drive fast, it can get addictive.And pushing the GLA 45 AMG is easy, knowing that the brakes are there to fall back on. The vented, cross-drilled brakes offer fantastic bite as does the grip from the 235/45 R19 Continental rubber. AMG hasn’t gone overboard with wider tyres than those on the lesser models in the GLA lineup and that seems to be a wise decision. While the GLA 45 AMG is majorly about performance, it is also going to be a everyday car and that requires acceptable levels of efficiency as well.
SAFETY FEATURES ;
The GLA 45 AMG is the top of the line GLA. It’s got all the features of the GLA that includes Bi-Xenon headlamps with DRLs, aluminium roof rails, a Harman Kardon surround sound system, sat-nav, 7-inch screen, reversing camera, paddle shifters, infinitely adjustable electric sports seats with memory function, a panoramic sunroof, all that you need. The AMG bits like the gear lever with the AMG stamp embossed on the leather and the AMG instrument cluster are unique to this car among other GLAs, as is the steering wheel. The only issue is a slightly dated looking screen and the clutter of buttons on the centre console, that don’t quite gel with the overall interior design.Disc brakes in front and rear along with anti-lock-braking system, brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution conclude the proficient braking system befitted in GLA 45 AMG. Adept safety features available on the AMG variant of GLA SUV include power door locks, central locking, child safety locks, driver airbag, passenger airbag, side front airbag, rear seat belts, side/front impact beams, traction control, vehicle stability control system, keyless entry, engine immobiliser, crash sensor, rear camera and anti-theft device.
The GLA45 AMG addresses all the shortcomings of the fabulous CLA45 AMG. While the CLA45 looks more purposeful as an AMG model, the GLA45 offers more practicality, thanks to its better ground clearance and more interior room. While the CLA45 is still the entry-level AMG model from Mercedes in India, the GLA45 is just a couple of lakhs more which is completely worth it for the ease of use it offers while also being as fast and fun as the CLA45. However, at its current on-road price, one can get two regular GLA’s for the price of one GLA45 AMG, making it quite expensive although it is undeniably a performance meister.