It’s no new news that the GLA45 AMG is wicked quick. Ever since its debut into the hot hatch war, we’ve only seen it grow. Heck, we are Hypertune have even seen souped up units that crack the 500hp mark. The hot-hatch horsepower war has gone out of control in my opinion. Each car maker is focusing so hard on engine output and lap times that ever so slightly, practicality is slipping away.
In comes the GLA45 which seems to stand alone without any real competitors. A crossover SUV that bridges the gap between the A-Class hatch and the GLC SUV. As expected, it sits perfectly in between its siblings in terms of gadgetry, space, size and most importantly, price. For the initial part of this review, let’s take the AMG-power out of the equation and focus on the GLA part.
So this sits closer to the ground than regular GLA’s thanks to the AMG Ride Control sports suspension. The low cruiser look is extra enhanced with the AMG Night package equipped on these models, namely the 20-inch multi-spoke AMG wheels. Pain in the ass at the car wash but super sick to look at. Despite the sports suspension, the ride is nowhere near as uncomfortable as most online comments have suggested.
That being said, Merc may have nailed the ride, but the seats are a tricky matter. Recaro Sport buckets are standard on the 45s and while they look stunning, I found them to be, how shall I put it, odd. The side shoulder bolsters were in the way of my arms rather than cradling them causing annoyance in town driving. On touge however, the seats redeemed themselves and lived up to their name. Snug and keeps the driver focused on the job at hand. I have to stress that seat comfort is relative to individuals because everyone is shaped differently and have respective driving positions.
Other practical aspects the GLA ticks is the space both in the back and the boot. Even with bucket seats that generally rob rear legroom, there’s still enough space for three medium-sized adults at the back. I even managed to squeeze four dudes at the back without too much of a fuss. SUV box, ticked indeed. Boot space is ample for the basic family weekly grocery shopping and for the occasional long haul holidays.
Gadgetry department needs explaining because this GLA45 is the 2017 platform which means, it does not come with Merc’s new design language. A modern tri-star fan would feel stone aged in it but fret not, the new one is a stone’s throw away. Fuel efficiency is a major bonus if you stick to the speed limits. On my long haul test drive, I managed to eke out nearly 600km from a full tank. Mighty fuel efficient for a performance car.
Obviously, just these practical qualities don’t justify the RM413,888 selling price. That is where the magical three letters come into play. AMG. Under the hood is a M133 power plant chucking out a competitive 375hp and 475Nm. All of which are delivered neatly via a 7-speed DCT transmission and the AMG 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
The engineering that goes into it translates to sheer tarmac ripping grip. You can safely plant your foot mid corner without worrying about breaking traction thanks to the onboard electronics that shuffle the power around and play with the traction control. Be it wet or dry, you can safely push you GLA45 AMG. The insane 4.4 seconds 0-100kmh time is mainly down to that AWD system too.
The DCT gearbox responds slowly in low traffic conditions but is exceptional in Sport mode and above. For a spirited drive, you won’t be asking for more from the gearbox. My test drive included a run up to Genting Highlands and our demanding mountain stood no chance against the mountain of power and grip the GLA45 was throwing at it. Boost comes in from 3000rpm and above and goes all the way to 6300rpm before another gear is slammed into place. I enjoyed the linear torque curve that didn’t trail off towards the red line as most turbocharged cars do. And the orchestra that comes with it, lovely!
As we touch all these bases, we come back to the main point of this car. Practical AND fast. Does it do both? Yes. Mic Drop.
Photos By @GuiseGraphy