The Mercedes‑AMG GLA 45 S is a small SUV with 415bhp
Mercedes has capped its new GLA range with an AMG 45 S, revealed today and due with its first British owners for the summer. The GLA is Merc’s entry-level SUV, but there’s not much entry-level about this baby.
Set to be one of Mercedes’ star cars at the Geneva Show next week, the newcomer follows in the tyre tracks of its predecessor – the first and always the most potent of the compact SUV breed – but gets more of everything, including an extra 40bhp.
The power hike takes the 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine to 421PS (415bhp) with 500Nm (370lb ft) of torque, mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Power is distributed to all four wheels via Merc’s clever 4Matic all-wheel-drive, with AMG torque control to tame any lairy behaviour. It’s all a very well-honed performance package, proven already many times over in other AMG A Class variants.
The AMG GLA 45 S – the top version, and the only one that will be sold in the UK – is not quite as effective as other hot As, though, losing four-tenths of a second in 0-62mph over the A45 S hatchback. The high-riding crossover still blitzes it in a lively 4.3 seconds while top speed is 168mph – impressive for the brand’s entry-level SUV for sure, as will be a likely price of more than £50,000.
The less sculpted, less fussy body of the latest A Class generation gives any of the new GLA models a rather generic look – is it really a compact SUV, or just a slightly taller hatchback? – and it needs the AMG body kit and detailing to endow it with more character and set it apart.
The design makeover follows the expected AMG pattern: you get the predatory grille, chromed splitter and air vent inserts, flared guards, AMG wheels (standard 20s, or 21-inch optional), high gloss black body trim and, at the back, a wide apron with four-fin diffuser and twin oval exhaust outlets. Plus of course there’s a roof-mounted spoiler. The result is purposeful without being too boy racer.
So familiar is AMG’s 45 S package now that the new GLA’s dynamic abilities are almost a given. A first drive will confirm that, and in particular how fans of the old 2014-introduced GLA will find the new one. It is likely they will find a substantially different beast thanks to the latest and fully variable 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system. It’s been made possible by a redesigned rear axle differential with two multi-disc clutches which selectively provide the flow of power to each individual rear wheel.
Along with a host of other electronic driver assist functions, it should ensure this new GLA according to AMG is more dynamic and offers a broader spread of capabilities than ever. Apart from offering performance that plenty of sports cars would kill for, it can equally embrace everyday shopping duties as it can put in hot laps on a race circuit or take you to the top of a snowy mountain. And all in a car only a little longer and taller than a Ford Focus. All the SUV you ever need?