Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG Crossover Details:
Electronics: 5.8" screen | Eco Stop/Start | Collision Prevention Assist
+ Pros: Awesome turbo motor | Rides better than CLA45 AMG | Sets the benchmark for quality
- Cons: Nothing significant
The crossover is an appealing concept since it combines car-like driving with hatchback practicality and SUV versatility. Add a 355hp motor and sports-tuned AWD, and you have the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG - a vehicle claimed to be without direct competitors.
The Mercedes GLA is based on the A-Class platform that gave us the recent CLA-Class, but its bodywork is extended 100mm aft of the rear axle, increasing trunk capacity. With off-road driving part of the GLA's remit, the suspension pick-up points as well as both axles have been strengthened, with areas around the B-pillar, roof and rear-end receiving extra metal to improve rigidity.
With a taller package and 2" more ground clearance, common sense would dictate that the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG ride quality should be better, but that handling and grip would suffer. Yet on less-than-perfect rural Spanish roads, the ride and handling compromise was impressive, while overall composure was superb.
Not only does the GLA45 AMG crossover ride significantly better than its hardcore CLA45 AMG sedan sibling, the stopwatch shows that although 65 lb heavier, the crossover is barely more than 1sec slower on a flying lap of the Nurburgring!
The Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG gains some of its ride comfort from larger diameter tires, able to fit standard 19" or optional 20" wheels easily under its fenders. They also have a slightly taller sidewall, giving extra comfort, although the 235/45 ZR19s on 19x8" wheels aren't exactly regular off-road fare.
The motor is shared with the CLA45 AMG, which means a four-cylinder 16v motor with a big turbocharger boosting at 26psi peak. It delivers 355hp at 6000rpm and 332 lb-ft at 2250-5000rpm.
The extra 66 lb of weight, taller tires and higher profile are responsible for a slightly slower 0-60mph time, recorded at 4.8sec against 4.5sec for the Mercedes CLA45 AMG. Top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.
While all variants use Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive system, AMG has its own setup, with the torque distribution biased towards better handling. Weight distribution is 60/40%, putting more mass over the front wheels. However, AMG's bespoke suspension is able to compensate, providing stiffer spring, damper, bushing and sway bar rates, with the rear springs being 87.5% stiffer than the stock GLA suspension, for example. The car also gets new steering knuckles, heavy-duty top mounts and solid subframe mounts to keep it sporty.
On the road, the result is very convincing, with the aforementioned supple ride that is calmer and more sophisticated than the Mercedes CLA45, which can sometimes feel high-strung: a trait that's inspiring in small doses, but can be tiresome over long distances.
The electro-hydraulic power steering of the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG is excellent. It's smooth and natural feeling, perfectly synchronized to the chassis turn-in rate, making it a very instinctive car to point into bends.
Those solid rear subframe mounts make a big difference in the turns as well. The back follows the front on cue, with consistent messages through the steering and seat of your pants.
The mechanical grip from the 20" rubber we sampled was astonishing, and thanks to the GLA45's modest size and massive performance, a good driver would make this a very hard crossover to follow on a twisty road - there isn't much that could run at such pace this side of an exotic sports car.
The big brakes are strong, inspiring confidence, while the Mercedes motor is punchy when you want to move, torque-rich when you just want to cruise.
The Mercedes GLA45 AMG crossover is the most capable and accomplished model based on the new A-Class platform. The extra luggage space, AWD ability and better visibility are bonuses, while the bodyshell gives this high-performance crossover the gravitas to match its impressive all-round ability.
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG 4Matic
front-engine, 4Matic AWD
1911cc four-cylinder, DOHC, piezo injection, turbocharged
AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed transmission
AMG four-piston calipers, cross-drilled rotors fitted all round
McPherson strut f, multi-link independent r, AMG-spec dampers, springs, bushings and sway bars
Wheels & Tires
19x8" wheels, 235/45 ZR19 tires
355hp at 6000rpm
332 lb-ft at 2250-5000rpm