Truth be told, the GLA 45 is one of our favourite AMG’s. What – over an E63 or SLK 55? Okay, so choosing between AMG’s is a little like choosing between your children. Let’s just say that we love the GLA 45. Why? Well, because it’s one of the few AMG’s that you can take to Mashobra – in January!
You see, each year we do an ‘In the Hunt for Snow’ feature – and earlier this year our two chariots of choice were the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45. And it’s that versatility that has endeared us so much towards this machine. Not only is it one of the most attainable AMG’s on the market, but it’s also amongst the most practical.
The raised ride height means that you don’t have to cringe every time you go over a speed bump. It also means that you can actually drive the GLA 45 to far-flung regions of the country without having to worry about destroying the undercarriage.
But what of the handling and performance? Well, somehow, AMG has managed to give the GLA 45 usability without compromising on performance at all. The 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol motor is the recipient of multiple ‘Engine of the Year’ awards – and deservedly so! It really is one of the most impressive motors on the market today – after all, 355 horses from 1,991cc is no mean feat. And the manner in which it delivers its power is far more impressive than the numbers suggest. It simply pulls relentlessly from any rpm, and the dual-clutch 7-speed gearbox responds instantly. The grip levels, thanks to the Mercedes 4Matic all-wheel drive system, is also incredible.
On the track, it simply shoots out of corners. Moreover, the chassis is so solid that it feels like its milled from a solid piece of billet aluminium. As a result, there’s no body roll to speak of and the responses are as sharp as they come. On the road, the GLA scrambles momentarily for grip when you put your foot down before the car lunges forward – all of which is accompanied with the most glorious pops and bangs from the exhaust that add infinitely to the entertainment value of this machine.
On the whole, the driving experience is pretty addictive. Where the GLA loses points is in terms of refinement and comfort. The cabin is pretty bare, and is livened up only slightly in AMG trim thanks to the odd red stipe or swatch of alcantara. The seats are pretty firm, although they are very comfortable – if not a little too aggressively bolstered. The ride is firm, but not punishing.
Let’s put it this way, you get a lot of performance for your money – but not a lot of comfort and luxury. So, if you have your priorities straight, and all you want is a car to plaster a massive smile on your face – and one in which you can squeeze in a couple of friends to take them along for the ride – then the GLA 45 is the machine for you.