2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 review: Small footprint, big character

Nancy J. Delong

Even with the massive wheels, the GLA45 is rather unassuming in daily operation.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The very first-gen Mercedes GLA45 AMG sucked. It was an high-priced heap that was perpetually uncomfortable and seemed about as very good as it drove. Luckily, Mercedes-AMG acquired some lessons more than the a long time. Now, the new-for-2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is a totally understood compact luxurious crossover with a bonkers tiny powertrain tucked beneath the hood for very good measure, producing for 1 hell of a second act.


  • Gobs of electric power
  • Carlike dealing with
  • Well-appointed interior

Really don’t Like

  • Rides a tiny stiff
  • Reduced-speed driveline wonkiness
  • Tiny trunk

The first GLA-Class seemed like a surprised hatchback wearing tall sneakers. The gist is the exact this time around — the second-gen GLA-Class is nevertheless essentially a hatchback with a lift kit — but I consider the appear is a lot more cohesive. The large-eyed countenance has been swapped out in favor of some thing a tiny a lot more streamlined, but I consider the GLA45 looks very best from behind, where by a small overhang and those people ever-existing quadruple AMG tailpipes make for some intense aesthetics. 

The GLA’s interior no extended feels woefully cheap. There is no little tiny screen floating atop a menagerie of dated buttons in its place, all the things is mounted great and lower, and borrowing a lot of different style and design staples from much larger, a lot more high-priced Mercedes models signifies the interior feels considerably a lot more treasured than ahead of, even though the dashboard is nevertheless mottled vinyl and there’s nevertheless a truthful couple of occasions of tough plastic scattered around. Currently being an AMG, I’m not surprised to see carbon fiber producing an visual appeal on the sprint and doorway panels, but fortunately, there isn’t so substantially of it that I experience like I’m headed to Scorching Import Nights. Pair it with some a lot more high quality touches like correct metallic on the optional Nappa-leather-wrapped steering wheel ($four hundred), and you’ve got got pretty the great spot to devote some time.

Little cars and trucks need to prioritize perform, because there isn’t a entire great deal of extra place floating around. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 has some solid interior packaging in this scenario, with a adequately deep cubby beneath the armrest, massive doorway pockets and a large storage tray forward of the cup holders. The crossover’s roof is rather flat, which signifies again-row occupants have a lot of place, and it feels substantially airier when the $1,500 panoramic glass roof is thrown into the mix. Rear-seat storage possibilities are minimal, as the center seat will not convert to a folding armrest (except you pay back $360 for the privilege) and the doorway pockets are a tiny small, but individuals in the again do get cargo nets on the entrance seat backs along with two USB-C ports and a 115-volt two-prong outlet, which is great. Even so, regardless of currently being a hatchback, cargo place is on the paltry side the GLA45’s fifteen.4-cubic-foot trunk pales in comparison to that of the Volvo XC40 (20.seven), Audi Q3 (23.seven) and BMW X1 (27.1).

Beneath the GLA45’s hood lies 1 of my individual beloved automotive engineering marvels: the M139 engine. Able of producing in extra of four hundred horsepower in some current European-only purposes, this significant-strung turbocharged 2.-liter I4 is created in its own significant-tech corner of Mercedes-AMG’s Affalterbach engine facility, and it warrants that royal treatment method. Even though the sound wavers someplace between “offended beehive” and “offended farm devices,” the 382 hp and 354 pound-feet of torque this engine delivers in the GLA45 is pitch-ideal.

It can be a strange engine, far too guaranteed, it will sit down lower in the revs and spit out torque as desired, but there’s a tiny little bit of previous-faculty Honda VTEC action going on below, due to the fact the M139 loves to rev. It will sit between 4,000 and seven,000 rpm all day, making a lot more motive force than any Michigan backroad can tolerate. The GLA45’s eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is hit or overlook, though while it delivers almost quick shifts (and a tiny added tailpipe theater) beneath significant load, it is really not quite smooth at reduce speeds. If you feed it just a tiny a lot more throttle than needed, specially when the end-get started system is activated, it will lurch forward clunkily. Some sharp stabs of the throttle are achieved with a “hurry up and wait around” attitude, far too, as the transmission hunts for the gear it desires and then requires its sweet time bringing it up.

The rest of the GLA45’s driving working experience is largely manner-dependent. The motor vehicle is incredibly chill in its default Ease and comfort setting. The standard adaptive suspension is nevertheless sports-motor vehicle stiff in this manner, but it is really smooth plenty of on great streets to where by I could visualize long visits currently being a lot more than workable. Flip the change to Activity and the GLA45 is completely ready to bash system roll disappears underfoot, the steering bodyweight will increase to almost comical proportions and the transmission at last is aware of what gear it desires to be in forward of time. It can be considerably far too intense for any road that was not paved yesterday, specially in submit-snow Michigan where by thaw cycles place scaled-down potholes inside of of final year’s nevertheless-not-preset massive potholes, but it is really nevertheless a dang hoot.

Even the gasoline financial system isn’t the absolute pits. The EPA premiums the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 at 20 miles per gallon town, 27 mpg freeway and 23 mpg mixed. For a almost four hundred-hp performance motor vehicle, which is not poor at all, and in true-globe driving I’m able to get incredibly close to thirty mpg on the freeway. A light-weight foot will get you considerably.

The GLA’s cabin is appropriately upscale, and if you’ve got been in any other contemporary Benz, it ought to experience rather acquainted, far too.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Whereas the very first-gen GLA-Class felt like a lot more of a technological punishment, the reverse is the scenario with the 2021 GLA45. MBUX, the automaker’s most current and finest infotainment system, is standard, residing on a 10.3-inch touchscreen with redundant physical controls on the steering wheel and centre console. It can be a fabulous system, with a menu format that will not acquire long to master, responsiveness even shortly following a cold get started and all the common embedded frippery like a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Automobile. The “Hey, Mercedes” all-natural-language voice recognition performs brilliantly, as effectively. Charging arrives by way of 4 USB ports whole — a USB-C by the cup holders, a USB-A in the centre armrest and a pair of USB-C ports in the again. Make guaranteed your cords are up to date, though, due to the fact the USB-A port up entrance will not help smartphone mirroring. Embedded navigation is a $1,295 option, and while it contains the neat augmented-actuality transform-by-transform exhibit, it might not be truly worth the scratch if you might be a smartphone fanatic.

Even though protection tech could not be at the entrance of your brain in a performance motor vehicle, Mercedes-Benz would make guaranteed it is really there — supplied you experience like paying for it. Regular driver assists are minimal to blind-spot checking, forward-collision warning and automatic unexpected emergency braking. Plunk down $1,090 to insert a surround-view digital camera and parking sensors, or fall $1,seven hundred for full-speed adaptive cruise command, lane-trying to keep help, energetic blind-spot checking and route-based mostly speed adaptation.

Really don’t like the touchpad? Great! With MBUX, you can essentially overlook it.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Regardless of all the contemporary stuff plucked from bigger branches on the Mercedes-Benz tree, the 2021 AMG GLA45 isn’t all that high-priced. It’ll price tag $55,550 like place to get your foot in the doorway, and most of the accessible possibilities are contained in affordable up grade offers. My tester piles it on, like uprated leather, metallic paint, much larger 20-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and the navigation offer, leaving the manufacturing unit with a $62,one hundred fifty window sticker. Not far too shabby.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 will not truly have substantially accurate competition. Its diminutive footprint places it a class down below other bigger-powered luxurious utes like the BMW X3 M40i and the Audi SQ5, and there are no analogous variants of the BMW X1/X2 or Audi Q3 — the BMW X2 M35i could be close, I guess, but it is really nearer to the a little bit less peppy GLA35. That is probably for the very best, though, due to the fact any automaker would have a tough time topping the GLA45’s equal doses of entry-amount luxurious and flat-out powertrain insanity.

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