Mercedes GLA45 AMG Review
Car Tested: 2015 Mercedes GLA45 AMG
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 90,24,550/-
The GLA45 AMG is fast as a rocket yet practical enough to be driven on Indian roads
Performance and SUV are two things which were never spoken in the same sentence but times have changed and so have people. The craze for crossovers and SUVs is soaring so high that enthusiasts too want their go-fast machines to have a crossover or SUV body style. This trend has emerged because sedans don’t offer the practicality that an SUV does. The latest performance crossover to hit our shores is the Mercedes GLA45 AMG, yet another offering from the Stuttgart automaker’s mad and speed crazy performance division. Brought in via the CBU route, the Mercedes GLA45 AMG does end up costing quite a bit, yet it’s among the more affordable of AMGs offered in our country
Exteriors – The exterior design uses the GLA as a base but the vehicle has been given a load of attitude in the form of sharp new bumpers, sporty grille, all-round body kit, 19-inch wheels with red brake callipers, quad exhaust pipes and a rear diffuser. Our test car also came with stickers on the side while the grille gets a red border for a striking appearance. To make its go-fast personality known to all, the GLA45 AMG gets quite a few badges including AMG badge on the grille, Turbo AMG on the sides and GLA45 AMG 4MATIC at the rear. With all the sporty elements being flaunted proudly, it’s hard to miss this car on the road.
Interiors – The dashboard of the GLA45 AMG is awfully similar to the CLA45 AMG’s which isn’t a bad thing at all because the unit is very sporty and fit-finish levels are of the highest order. Over the regular GLA, the 45 AMG gets a flat bottom steering wheel, proper gear lever (instead of the column mounted stalk), red stitching on the steering, dashboard and seats, red seat belts, bigger infotainment screen, climate control AC and rear AC vents. The car carries all the equipment from the top-end GLA so there are a ton of features on offer.
The regular seats of the GLA have been replaced by a pair of sporty, single-piece, bucket ones which hug you tightly as you floor the throttle. Disappointingly though, one has to manually adjust the steering and there is no push button start/stop either, so you still have to insert the key to turn on the car, yes, in an AMG! That said, there is decent space inside the cabin and compared to its AMG sibling, the GLA45 AMG is the more spacious vehicle as the CLA lacks headroom at the rear. So people at the rear in the GLA45 AMG have decent enough space to be comfortable.
Performance – Unlike the non-MFA platform based AMG models which use big brute V8 motors to propel them, the GLA45 makes do with a 4-cylinder heart which displaces 1991cc. Slapped with a twin-scroll turbocharger and some hi-tech internals (like friction optimised piston rings and NANOSLIDE cylinder lining), the M133 powertrain in the GLA45 AMG pumps out 355 horses at 6000 RPM and 450 Nm of twisting force between 2250-5000 RPM. Since the GLA45 weighs slightly more than the CLA45, it takes an additional 0.2 seconds to do the 0-100 km/hr sprint but at 4.8 seconds, it’s still pretty fast. One has to be in ‘Race Start’ mode to achieve that time to the ton, these words being Merc speak for Launch Control, left foot on the brake, right on the accelerator and bang, you have launched.
The GLA45 AMG gathers pace with intensity, it rushes to the redline and just keeps gaining speed
The Mercedes GLA45 AMG is properly fast, it has good low-end tractability, so driving in the city isn’t a problem at all while the hooligan comes out at 3000 RPM, amplifying the madness once you whizz past 4000 RPM. Power doesn’t trail off till 5500 RPM while redline kicks in at 6800 RPM. The mid-range is brutal and the GLA45 AMG gathers pace so quickly that reaching 200 km/hr is always in near sight. The motor starts with a growl and settles into a refined idle but as you hit 3500 RPM, the exhausts start with their roar, even doing a kick back when upshifting and cracking when you lift of the gas.
There are three modes which alter the engine, gearbox, suspension and steering – C (for Comfort), S (for Sports) and M (for Manual). In comfort mode, the GLA45 takes it all easy and shifts cogs with secrecy although mashing the pedal to the floor results in upshifts happening between 5500 to 6000 RPM. In Sports mode, the urgency is apparent, gears are held till their redline and cog swapping happens at 6200 RPM which is near peak power output. In manual, one can make the engine spin to 6800 RPM and you have total control of the transmission as no upshift or downshift (unless you reach a speed where a lower gear has to be selected) happens unless you do it yourself using the steering mounted paddles.
In-gear acceleration is splendid too, one can do 70 km/hr to 250 km/hr in one gear, which is seventh. One can also comfortably cruise in top gear, doing 100 km/hr with the motor spinning in at 1500 RPM. But this car isn’t for cruising, it’s meant to be driven fast and once you give the GLA45 AMG the pedal to the metal treatment, it does 54 km/hr in first, 87 km/hr in second, 135 km/hr in third, 190 km/hr in fourth and well past 200 km/hr in fifth. These numbers are in manual mode, so in Sports, the speeds in every gear is slightly lesser as upshifts happen 500-700 RPM earlier. One can also manually shift gears in the other modes by tapping the paddles but unless it’s in M mode, the gearbox will still take matters in its own hands. The box could do with faster downshifts though.
Driving Dynamics – The Mercedes GLA45 AMG is powerful and thus all those German stallions are channelled to all four wheels via the company’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive system. The car does well to lay all that power on the road smoothly and there is little of wheel-spin or loss of traction even with a heavy foot. The system does feed more power to the front-wheels so you don’t get the typical rear-wheel drive feel which bigger AMGs offer. Still, there is a load of grip on offer and the GLA45 simply feels up to the task of handling all that madness, it gets an anti-roll bar along with stiffer springs. Handling is excellent as this sports crossover feels quite like a hatchback with sharp body control and a nicely weighed steering which is heavy even at low speeds.
Once you switch off the traction control system, the GLA45 flashes ‘Sport Handling Mode’ on the cluster. It does let you tail out a bit before policing you back on track. Stability is excellent and the big plus of the car is the ground clearance, despite sitting 15 mm lower than the standard GLA. Unlike the CLA45 which touches even rumblers, the GLA glides over speed-breakers like just any other car. The high ground clearance also boasts confidence to hold high speeds for longer because any irregularity of the road isn’t much of a bother. Ride quality is on the firmer side, yet it’s pliant enough to not unsettle you like the CLA45. The car does make the expansion joints on bridges felt inside the cabin. With so much thrust on offer, braking has to be excellent and the GLA45 has massive cross-ventilated discs on board to stop instantly.
Verdict – The GLA45 AMG addresses all the shortcomings of the fabulous CLA45 AMG. While the CLA45 looks more purposeful as an AMG model, the GLA45 offers more practicality, thanks to its better ground clearance and more interior room. While the CLA45 is still the entry-level AMG model from Mercedes in India, the GLA45 is just a couple of lakhs more which is completely worth it for the ease of use it offers while also being as fast and fun as the CLA45. However, at its current on-road price, one can get two regular GLA’s for the price of one GLA45 AMG, making it quite expensive although it is undeniably a performance meister.
The Mercedes GLA45 AMG is capable of some seriously quick speeds and is fast with a load of AMG character on offer. It might be expensive but it’s among the most affordable AMGs you can buy in India currently.
* Mad, mad, mad AMG performance
* Ride, handling, braking balance
* Practicality for an AMG model
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Picture Editing: Sri Manikanta Achanta