The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 was designed for everyday use.
Despite the practicality, the 2.0-liter engine can hit 60 in 4.3 seconds.
Inside, drivers can choose between the three different AMG display styles.
Mercedes-AMG calls the 2021 GLA 45 the performance SUV to suit any lifestyle. You can take it hot lapping at your local track, drive up into the mountains with all your gear, and still pick up the kids from school. The 2.0-liter engine is the most powerful series-produced four-cylinder turbo in the world, cranking out 382 horsepower. And with an AMG all-wheel drive system putting all that power to the ground, it’s a hard vehicle to say no to.
So, what is this thing? Is it a lumpy wagon, or is it a little SUV; or is it a big hatchback-esque deal or what? I’ll tell you what it is: it’s fast. At certain speeds, shape and design and “what it is” are kind of beside the point. And Mercedes-AMG has squeezed the bajeebers out of this little guy’s plant. It can haul the mail as well as haul people and stuff.
“The new GLA 45 is not only significantly more dynamic, but also more practical in everyday use than its predecessor, thereby ensuring its appeal to a dynamic, leisure-oriented target group,” explained Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
Oh no, it’s fast and practical!
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45: Under The Hood
We don’t doubt Mercedes-AMG when they talk about practicality, but let’s take a look at that engine a little more closely since that is the main event of every AMG model. The GLA 45 is powered by a newly-developed, M139 2.0-liter engine, which scoots the GLA 45 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That’s not hypercar fast, but, c’mon, that’s still pretty quick. The top speed is electronically-limited to 155 mph, which is a shame. I wonder how fast it would top out at if you uncorked it?
The other thing I’m curious about is engine life. Merc has wrung a lot of power out of those two liters by cranking the boost way up. Yeah, I know, this is Mercedes, and they are always very reliable (and hand-built in the case of an AMG), but I still wonder.
Officially, however, Mercedes notes the traverse mounting of the four-cylinder, meaning the turbocharger and the exhaust manifold are now at the rear (on the side of the firewall when viewed from behind) with the intake position at the front. Mercedes-AMG goes on to say this configuration allows for the flattest possible, most aerodynamically advantageous front section design. Furthermore, the arrangement allows for air ducts with shorter distances and fewer diversions, both on the intake and exhaust side.
Turbo & Transmission Tech
Of further note is the new twin-scroll turbocharger of the GLA 45. The shaft of the compressor and turbine wheel is mounted on anti-friction bearings, minimizing mechanical friction all around. The turbocharger has a maximum speed of up to 169,000 rpm with a maximum charge pressure of 2.1 bar. See what I mean about them boosting things WAY up?!
Anyway, that engine is hooked to an eight-speed AMG dual-clutch transmission with a standard Race-Start function. Power is moved from there to an AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system with AMG Torque Control. That Torque Control system, as described by Mercedes-AMG, includes two electronic multi-disc clutches, each of which is connected to a rear axle drive shaft. The design means power can be sent not only front to back, but also selectively between the left and right rear wheel.
Lastly, the new Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 also comes with a trick exhaust system that lets you choose the sound signatures. They range from “harmonious and discreet” to “dynamic and sporty.”
Braking & Suspension
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 uses a McPherson strut design up front and a four-link setup at the rear with three transverse control arms and one trailing arm. The GLA 45 makes use of new aluminum components underneath to reduce unsprung mass. The AMG Ride Control system comes with three suspension control modes, just to make sure things are all smooth with no fuss, no muss.
Stopping is handled by four-piston front calipers on 13.8 x 1.3 discs, and single piston 13.0 x 0.9 discs out back. If you go with the optional AMG Dynamic Plus package, you’ll get six-piston calipers and 14.2 x 1.4 in discs at the front. If you need more stopping power than that, get an anchor and some chain.
The interior of the GLA 45 is all German and logical and wrapped in “leather” (okay, actually that MB-Tex stuff that’s just like leather).
All the tech stuff is part of the, a-hem, MBUX infotainment system (MBUX? Please change that awful name Mercedes!). The AMG-specific displays aim to give the driver a more appealing presentation with high-resolution 3D graphics. There are two displays under one shared glass cover that blend into an attractive widescreen cockpit. The display has three styles: Classic, Sport, and Supersport for the instrument cluster.
The “Supersport” mode has a central, round rev counter and other info goodies like a gear speed indicator, Warm-up, Set-up, G-Meter, RACETIMER, and Engine Data. There’s also voice control if you don’t want to actually touch screens or swipe this way and that.
Special Track Data Package
If you opt for the AMG Track Pace package, track days become a lot more fun. Or at least, they get drowned in a lot more data. The software is part of the MBUX system, and monitors more than 80 vehicle-specific data points like speed and acceleration. Lap and sector times are displayed, as well as the respective difference from a reference time.
Pricing & Availability
Pricing has yet to be announced, but expect the GLA 45 later this year. Yes, it might be hard to figure out at first glance, but I bet five minutes behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 will clear up any confusion, and right quick.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz.