- Impressive engine
- Doesn’t handle like an off-roader
- A niche too far?
- High asking price
- A 45 AMG is cheaper and faster
This is the Mercedes GLA 45 AMG, a high performance version of the Mercedes GLA compact 4x4.
That might seem an incongruous basis for a performance car but the GLA is based heavily on the A-Class hatchback and CLA coupe, both of which have their own performance-focused AMG versions called the A 45 AMG and CLA 45 AMG respectively.
On that basis, then, a GLA 45 AMG is a logical addition to the family. Don’t be fooled by the high-rise body – it’s every bit as rapid as its lower-roofed siblings in the real world and feels very similar to drive.
Impressive performance stats
Under the bonnet is the same turbocharged petrol engine as the other A-Class AMG models, which manages to pump out 355bhp from only two litres making it the most powerful four-cylinder engine in series production.
All GLA 45 AMGs are four-wheel drive and use a fast-shifting twin-clutch automatic transmission with seven speeds with a pair of metal paddles behind the wheel for those who prefer to swap gears themselves.
The suspension is far firmer than the regular GLA (although ride quality is more comfortable than the A 45 AMG hatchback) and a firmer still ‘AMG Performance’ suspension setup is available as an option at extra cost.
Whichever suspension set-up you go for, this is one off-roader that’s definitely not intended to go off-road.
To make the AMG version stand out against the regular GLA, it wears larger alloy wheels (in a choice of 19 or 20 inches) and the bodywork’s aggression factor is turned up a notch a two with an altered front bumper and twin-blade radiator grille.
There’s also a big diffuser-style moulding under the rear bumper and four large rectangular exhaust tips. When fitted with the optional ‘AMG sports exhaust system’ they sound the part too, with a flap that opens at specific revs for extra noise.
Fast, but is it fun?
With all that power and all-wheel drive, the GLA 45 AMG can sprint from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and keep going until its electronic speed limiter calls time at 155mph.
The thing is, although it’s certainly not slow, the GLA 45 doesn’t feel quite as quick as you might expect. It gathers speed quickly and without fuss but it’s not quite the kick in the back you might expect from 355bhp.
It’s the same story in the corners. The GLA 45 AMG is enormously grippy and can slice through curves with impressive precision but there are humbler hot hatches out there that are more playful and entertaining for far less cash.
High asking price
Cash is something you’ll need plenty of if you fancy a GLA 45 AMG as it costs more than £40,000.
It’s very much a niche product and in some ways it’s hard to understand what the car’s all about, given that it’s larger and heavier than the A 45 AMG without adding any meaningful practicality bar a slightly larger boot.
For some buyers, however, the car’s uniqueness will be its attraction. The A 45 AMG has few obvious rivals, the Audi Q3 RS being the only directly comparable car at the time of writing although there is a hot version of the Range Rover Evoque in the pipeline.
The GLA 45 AMG is certainly different, and if its off-roader styling is your cup of tea you’ll find a car underneath that’s impressively agile and very nearly as fast as the rest of the A-Class AMG range.
Click on the sections at the top of the page or next to the star ratings below to navigate through the full Mercedes GLA 45 AMG review.