Make: Mercedes Benz
Engine / Transmission: 2.0 turbo – 8 speed DSG transmission
Manufacturer Claimed Fuel Economy: 9.6L/100km combined
Price: From about $107000 plus on roads
In a nutshell:
You know Jekyll and Hyde, right? The GLA45 is that story in a car!.
I don’t really know what to make of the GLA45s. There’s no two ways about it – it’s an odd car. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good car, it’s just weird.
For a start, the GLA range is an acquired taste. It really is just a jacked up A-Class – the smallest hatch in the Mercedes line up. As a result, it’s comfortable and space is perfectly adequate for what it is, but I just don’t know why you would want to turn an A-Class (a really classy thing) into a mini SUV, faux off-roader. While it’s going to take a unique person to buy into the GLA platform, it’s going to take a really unique person to then insist on the 310kw, 4 second 0-100 version – the GLA45s. For a start, it’s not cheap. The list price might be $107k, but add a few options (which probably should be standard) and before you know it the price has eclipsed Porsche’s Macan GTS. Stiff competition indeed. If the price doesn’t put you off, the wild ride might. Pop it into ‘comfort’ and it’s a sweet ride. It is relatively comfortable, stylish and with ample reserve. Twist the dial to ‘sport’ or, heaven forbid, ‘sport +’ and hit the loud pedal and all hell breaks loose! It’s an epic experience and this platform is very, very competent, but it’s an odd experience given the mini-SUV platform. The A45s is quicker, more efficient and the whole uber hot-hatch vibe is so much more consistent with the performance potential on offer. I guess it’s nice to have the choice. I mean, I won’t hate you if you choose the GLA45 over an A45, but I’ll be disappointed.
As you would expect, this thing is loaded. The build quality is excellent, and equipment levels include everything you can think of. The AMG body kit and grill looks great. Inside, lashings of alcantara and leather are topped off by a Burmester branded stereo. The AMG Track Pace app allows you to select one of the pre-programmed tracks to help with track telemetry. If Laguna Seca isn’t handy, you can add more tracks via your phone. You can also use telemetry parameters like transverse and longitudinal acceleration and chassis data. The app can then use the head-up display to show the radius of the next curve! It’s an awesome thing, but I just can’t see why you need it in this type of car. Who am I kidding! You don’t need this in any sort of car – it’s stupid. It’s just even ‘stupider’ in this type of platform. Still, what’s the harm?
For what it is, the GLA45 is a remarkably coherent package. For all you’re worth, you’re convinced that the thing will be a dog, but it just isn’t. The looks, handling and fit and finish are all noteworthy, but it all pales compared to the engine. The M139 engine fitted to the GLA, and shared with other four cylinder AMG models, is utterly epic. Hand built by one person, start to finish, it really needs to be experienced. In fact, it’s worth the price of admission alone. Ultimately though, the GLA45 has one major flaw.
Not So Impressive:
It’s just so nuts. For example, who the hell is going to want to gather track telemetry in a mini-SUV? I don’t understand the point of the thing or even what it’s trying to accomplish. I mean, I guess it doesn’t hurt anyone having the GLA45s on the market, I just don’t know why you’d want it!
WHEN ON A TEST DRIVE:
Seriously, just get the less bonkers GLA35, or even a plain Jane GLA is a sweet ride. Actually, scratch that. Get the full-fat A45… and a 2003 Corolla for the kids and the dog. You won’t regret it.