The Mercedes GLA is a solid mid-size SUV offered in three versions. We obtained their top-tier model, loaded with all the goodies.
All three versions of the GLA come with a little 2.0-liter engine. The difference is in the horsepower output. The base GLA250 puts out 221 ponies, the GLA35 302, with our GLA45 AMG cranking a healthy 382. This is a lot of spunk for such a small motor and required some excellent engineering to develop. Attach a slick 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox and all-wheel drive for secure traction. The fuel economy is claimed to be 20/27 mpg.
Mercedes claims this rig can fly to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. That number is quicker than the Mercedes S-Class with a twin-turbo 496 hp V-8 at 4.5! We didn’t use our stopwatch, but the time seems pretty accurate. This baby moves! What is even more impressive, the real-world gas mileage was better than the less potent GLA35 with a 302 hp motor, which was 25 vs. 23 mpg on highway trips. This is for normal commuting of course. Pressing the gas pedal down can make this SUV run quick, but can make the fuel gauge run quick too, sucking the tank dry!
All AMG engines are handmade, with the craft person’s name stamped on top. So if that motor blows up, we know who to blame!
So how much does it cost to go the AMG route? The base GLA250 starts at about $37K. The $54K fee asked for this GLA45 seems reasonable, but there is always that pesky option sheet to ambush your wallet. Some of these extras are more useful than others, but most Mercedes units at the dealer are maxed out with all the goodies, so you just have to pay the piper. In this case a tidy $59,960.
For this high price, we get a nice-looking cabin, with enough buttons and knobs to fill a space shuttle. This control cluster located on the console looks complicated but is simple to operate after some practice. A switch provides different modes of operation: Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual and Slippery.
The power seat switches are placed on the inside door panel. While this is an unusual spot, it works better than other arrangements. The controls do not move but are locked solid in place instead. This is a system that relies on a “finger touch” sensor, which can be confusing to first-time users who can’t understand why the knobs won’t move.
These thumb controls on the steering wheel do a long list of functions too long to list here. The operation is confusing at first, but easy to use once the driver has some practice.
These LED headlamps crank out plenty of light. On a vehicle that accelerates this quickly, you need all the illumination on the pavement you can get.
With raised ground clearance and all-wheel traction, all GLA models can be taken off-road. But the lack of spare tire means it shouldn’t wander too far into the wild.
AMG versions of the GLA have a larger grille and this huge emblem tacked on so everyone will know you are driving a Mercedes.
The bottom line is, that this AMG version of the GLA is just awesome, a real blast to drive if it’s pressed. Yet it can be used for daily commuting in comfort. It’s one of the better values in the Mercedes lineup.