For the latest model year, the GLA45 gains a more powerful engine that now develops 375 horsepower. The extra grunt is complemented by more standard equipment.
The GLA45 stretches 173 inches long, 60 inches tall and 71 inches wide, dimensions that make it the smallest crossover Mercedes has ever offered by a long shot. It boasts a muscular front end thanks to a powerdome hood, a low bumper and elongated headlights. The sporty look continues past the front end with a low roof line, a tall belt line and a spoiler mounted on top of the hatch, while 19-inch alloys tucked under large wheel arches finish off the dynamic look.
The GLA45 stands out from the less powerful GLA250 with a twin-blade grille, deeper bumpers on both ends, an air diffuser that incorporates four round exhaust tips and a slightly lowered ride height. Model-specific exterior colors, alloy wheel designs and "Turbo" emblems on both fenders round out the look.
Inside, the GLA45 is nearly identical to the CLA45 that it shares its platform with. Unabashedly designed to appeal to a young target audience, the crossover's cockpit is characterized by aircraft-inspired round air vents surrounded by chrome bezels, an instrument cluster consisting of four round analog gauges and a leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel. Carbon fiber trim on the dash, a pair of sport seats up front and an AMG-specific instrument cluster that includes a timer emphasize the performance-focused nature of the car.
A seven-inch color touch screen that protrudes from the top of the center stack comes standard. Controlled by either buttons on the center stack,, a controller knob or a voice recognition software, COMAND integrates the car's audio, navigation (if equipped), climate control and connectivity functions into a single unit.
The touch screen also lets passengers control Mercedes' MBrace2 infotainment system. Mbrace2 runs cloud-based applications and provides on-the-go access to the internet. In addition to offering a wide array of concierge services, the latest generation of Mercedes' infotainment system comes with an application that lets owners use their smartphone to lock or unlock the car from a distance and instantly find it in a parking lot.
Standard Bluetooth connectivity allows the passengers to make hands-free phone calls and stream music.
The GLA offers 17.2 cubic feet of cargo space with five occupants on board. 43.6 cubic feet can be obtained by folding down the rear seats.
Under the Hood
In the GLA45's engine bay lies a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 375 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 350 lb-ft. of torque from 2,250 to 5,000 rpm thanks to a turbocharger and high-tech engineering such as multiple spark ignition and multiple injection. The mill sends Mercedes' smallest crossover from zero to 60 mph in a brisk 4.3 seconds and on to a top that is electronically limited to 155 mph.
Hand-built, the engine is linked to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that sends power to all four wheels via a 4Matic all-wheel drive system designed specifically to be used in cars with a transversally-mounted engine. It uses a power take-off unit that is built directly into the gearbox and cooled by its oil to transfer power to the rear wheels. By eliminating the need for a separate transfer case, the number of moving components drops and the total of weight of the system is reduced.
The engine's torque is distributed between the front and rear wheels by an electrohydraulically-activated multi-disk clutch that is integrated into the rear axle. Although part of a very complex system, it works in roughly the same way as a basic single-disk clutch. When the clutch is disengaged, the vehicle is primarily driven by the front wheels; when it is engaged, the rear wheels wake from their slumber and help move the car. Engaging and disengaging the clutch takes mere milliseconds.
Like most performance cars, the GLA45 comes with a stability control that offers variable degrees of intervention. During aggressive cornering, Curve Dynamic Assist applies a touch of braking to the inside rear when to act as a torque-vectoring system and improve turn-in.
Underneath, the GLA's four-link rear axle has been beefed up and its three-link front suspension has been modestly reconfigured for improved handling. The GLA45 uses a specially-modified electric steering system.
Standard and Optional Equipment
The GLA45 comes standard with run-flat tires, power door locks, keyless entry and start, power heated mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, HID headlights, perimeter lighting, illuminated vanity mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power-adjustable front seats with a memory function, dual-zone A/C, an eight-speaker stereo system, tinted windows and cruise control.
Highlights from the long list of options include a universal garage door opener, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an upgraded sound system, AMG sport seats, an AMG sport steering wheel, illuminated door sills, genuine wood trim on the dashboard, a sunshade for the sunroof, heated front seats, navigation, rear parking sensors and a panoramic sunroof. Additionally, buyers can choose from several optional paint colors, red brake calipers, carbon fiber trim in the cockpit, and add 20-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels.
For even more creature comforts, Mercedes offers a Premium Package that bundles a garage door opener, an integrated compass, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a media interface, six months of SiriusXM Satellite radio and heated front seats.
Selecting the Multimedia Package brings a rear-view camera, an advanced voice command function, a navigation system with a seven-inch touch screen and an 80GB hard drive, no-charge navigation map updates for three years, an in-dash SD card slot and three years' worth of SiriusXM radio.
Buyers after a sporty-looking GLA45 can select one of many appearance packages available. These include the Aerodynamics Package, the AMG Night Styling Package and the Exterior Carbon Fiber Package.
In addition to eight airbags, the GLA45 comes with a radar-based Collision Prevention Assist system that warns the driver of potential accidents and, when necessary, automatically applies the brakes to prevent or mitigate the severity of a crash. The crossover also comes with an Attention Assist system that provides an audible and visual alert if it senses the driver is drowsy.
The Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is unique in the sense that it has almost no direct competitors. Similarly-sized offerings can't match its power, but larger -- and more expensive -- models that pack a similar punch include the Porsche Macan and the BMW X4.