By taking a quick glimpse of what seems to be the new in-thing in suburbia America, we can easily see how there is an emergence of compact-sized crossover utility vehicles. Manufacturers from all ends of the world are catching onto the new theme and desire for gas-sipping compacts that meshes an econo-box into a wagon-esq styled vehicle with subtle hints of a SUV-proportioned mold.
Many have jumped onto the compact crossover bandwagon and some have taken it a step into the stratosphere. As such, Mercedes-Benz has introduced and their 2015 GLA45 AMG – a uniquely styled pocket rocket with the brand’s instilled performance DNA.
Based off of the compact GLA 250 crossover, the new Benz GLA45 AMG takes the sum of its small SUV-like parts and beefs them up to the level that you expect from a performance-injected AMG model. The engine in the GLA45 AMG is a boosted 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that pumps out 355 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. That gushing turbocharged power is sent to all four wheels through a 7-speed automated dual clutch transmission and AMG’s performance 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system.
Working off of the principles of a smallish chassis that doesn’t have much mass to throw around, the low-slung GLA45 AMG is quite the performer with enough agility to reach 60 mph in as fast as 4.4 seconds through use of its several-steps-required launch mode (place the drive mode into manual, enable sport handling mode, heavily depress brake, pull both shift paddles simultaneously, pull the up-shift paddle, hold the brake while you floor the throttle, release the brake when ready to launch). While enabling launch mode takes nearly thirty seconds to engage, the payoff is delightful with slight spin from all four wheels as the automated clutch slips at a 4,000 launch rpm, a sweet spot for the full effect of torque from the growling turbo 4-cylinder engine. The engine at full throttle makes way for the quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission to blip through gears pushing your body gently into the AMG performance seats. Combined with the turbocharged engine’s wastegate and AMG performance exhaust there is quite the clapping pop noise upon perfectly executed up-shifts while in sport or manual drive mode – proving that this little Benz means business.
Much like the GLA 250’s eco-minded EPA estimate numbers, the fast and flashy GLA45 AMG returns decent numbers when you’re not pushing it near its limits. EPA estimates for the GLA45 AMG come in at 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. I saw my best estimate at nearly 31 mpg on the highway by use of the radar cruise control set at 65 mph.
If the looks alone of the GLA45 AMG don’t move you, jumping behind the wheel will do the job. The ride quality of the GLA45 AMG isn’t overly harsh – probably more of what you would expect in a performance oriented vehicle that has the looks to back up its road-going prowess. From its high-mounted full-sized black spoiler to the massive diffusers and aerodynamic flics to add downforce at speed, the GLA45 AMG is a rolling statement that will undoubtedly turn heads in appeasement and astonishment.
While the performance nearly matches the stature that you expect from an AMG vehicle, the exterior and interior looks are just as aggressive, or even more so considering the boy-racer assortment of performance bits equipped on the GLA45. Most of that equipment is derived from an AMG options list that starts to quickly add to the $49,580 base price of the GLA45. However, most of the added equipment does have some function to nearly match its aggressive looks, such as the 20-inch AMG wheels, massively-sized red brake calipers clamping down on slotted and cross-drilled rotors, and an AMG performance exhaust. On the inside, the interior is just as enthused with red-accented stitching throughout the soft-touch dashboard, soft-touch door trim, on the flat bottom AMG steering wheel with magnesium shift paddles, and the same stitching with red stripes on the heavily bolstered perforated leather AMG sport seats up front and a flatter variety out back. All of the interior accents, including the red seatbelts and the rest of the AMG-inspired appeal, does a good job to differentiate the GLA45 AMG from its normal-run-of-the-mill GLA 250, which is otherwise rather dull inside and out with a harsh ride quality that you would only expect in the AMG trim.
The utilitarian side of the GLA45 AMG is mostly nonexistent. You could classify the GLA45 AMG to be more rally car than crossover with the exception of its low ground clearance and waiting-to-scrub-the-ground black body kit rocker panels. The GLA45 AMG isn’t going to win any practicality awards, after all, its small and there is no getting around that very fact. Up front, for the most part, there is just enough room for the driver and passenger to enjoy a trip that takes a full tank, even if you are over 6 feet tall like myself. Out back it remains to be a mixed bag for occupant comfort with limited leg/knee room and nowhere near enough headroom for anyone 6 feet tall. The cargo area, accessed by the power liftgate, is almost equally short on space compared to other crossovers with only 14.9 cubic feet of storage area with the rear 60/40 split seat backs in position. Drop the seat backs down and cargo room opens up to about 43 cubic feet of space.
The tech in the GLA45 AMG goes a long way to add value to its rather lofty price tag for such a small vehicle. Included on my test vehicle as optional equipment was the Driver Assist Package (lane keeping assist, blind spot assist, distronic plus), Parktronic Assist, a Premium Package (heated front seats, dual-zone auto climate control, media interface –USB/iPod connectivity, SiriusXM radio, driver’s side and review auto dimming mirrors, garage door openers), Multimedia Package (COMAND System with navigation, review camera, 7-inch high-res LCD screen, 30GB music register, DVD/CD player, SiriusXM traffic and weather, nav map updates for 3-years), AMG RedCut Exclusive Package, AMG Aerodynamic Package, and AMG performance seats.
While the marketing department has its work cut out to place the GLA45 AMG in an appropriate category, the normal GLA trims may have an easier job to find their proper segment classification. I would go as far as to say the GLA45 AMG is the only way to have the GLA if you are an enthusiast. All other GLA trims don’t have nearly the performance chops or looks that the AMG branding inspires for the growing compact crossover segment. Fundamentally, the GLA45 AMG fills an area that lacks the sports and performance appeal at the highest echelon for such a niche segment. There really is no competition, unless you contend performance hatchback vehicles, such as the Volkswagen Golf R or forthcoming Ford Focus RS, which both cost considerably less than a well-equipped GLA45 AMG.
At the as-tested price of $66,975, the GLA45 AMG may be a hard pill to swallow considering the base GLA 250 starts at about $33,000. We’re talking twice the price here. Either way you slice it, the GLA45 AMG is a head turner that backs up all of its AMG parts with compact-sized luxury, a salt grain of utility, and thrilling performance that may have a bit of identity crisis at the end of the day after all the fun commences.
Copyright: 2015 AutomotiveAddicts.com
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