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

Even with the large wheels, the GLA45 is rather unassuming in day-to-day procedure. Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Even with the large wheels, the GLA45 is rather unassuming in day-to-day procedure.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The first-gen Mercedes GLA45 AMG sucked. It was an high-priced heap that was perpetually awkward and looked about as great as it drove. Luckily, Mercedes-AMG figured out some classes above the yrs. Now, the new-for-2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is a fully realized compact luxurious crossover with a bonkers tiny powertrain tucked underneath the hood for great measure, making for one particular hell of a second act.


  • Gobs of electricity
  • Carlike dealing with
  • Nicely-appointed inside

You should not Like

  • Rides a tiny rigid
  • Low-velocity driveline wonkiness
  • Little trunk

The first GLA-Class looked like a astonished hatchback putting on tall shoes. The gist is the exact same this time around — the second-gen GLA-Class is still generally a hatchback with a elevate kit — but I think the search is additional cohesive. The vast-eyed countenance has been swapped out in favor of a little something a tiny additional streamlined, but I think the GLA45 seems best from guiding, in which a short overhang and individuals ever-current quadruple AMG tailpipes make for some intense aesthetics. 

The GLA’s inside no more time feels woefully low cost. There is no small tiny screen floating atop a menagerie of dated buttons as an alternative, all the things is mounted wonderful and reduced, and borrowing numerous distinctive design and style staples from more substantial, additional high-priced Mercedes versions indicates the inside feels far additional valuable than prior to, even nevertheless the dashboard is still mottled vinyl and you will find still a reasonable few instances of difficult plastic scattered around. Becoming an AMG, I am not astonished to see carbon fiber making an overall look on the dash and doorway panels, but thankfully, there is just not so significantly of it that I experience like I am headed to Incredibly hot Import Nights. Pair it with some additional high quality touches like correct metallic on the optional Nappa-leather-wrapped steering wheel ($four hundred), and you have acquired rather the wonderful location to spend some time.

Modest automobiles have to have to prioritize purpose, due to the fact there is just not a total large amount of extra house floating around. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 has some sound inside packaging in this case, with a sufficiently deep cubby underneath the armrest, large doorway pockets and a massive storage tray in advance of the cup holders. The crossover’s roof is rather flat, which indicates back-row occupants have a good deal of house, and it feels significantly airier when the $1,500 panoramic glass roof is thrown into the combine. Rear-seat storage possibilities are restricted, as the center seat would not convert to a folding armrest (until you pay back $360 for the privilege) and the doorway pockets are a tiny compact, but people in the back do get cargo nets on the entrance seat backs alongside with two USB-C ports and a 115-volt two-prong outlet, which is wonderful. Nonetheless, irrespective of remaining a hatchback, cargo house is on the paltry facet the GLA45’s 15.4-cubic-foot trunk pales in comparison to that of the Volvo XC40 (20.seven), Audi Q3 (23.seven) and BMW X1 (27.1).

Under the GLA45’s hood lies one particular of my personalized beloved automotive engineering marvels: the M139 motor. Able of making in extra of four hundred horsepower in some present European-only applications, this superior-strung turbocharged two.-liter I4 is crafted in its have superior-tech corner of Mercedes-AMG’s Affalterbach motor facility, and it deserves that royal remedy. Whilst the sounds wavers someplace between “angry beehive” and “angry farm equipment,” the 382 hp and 354 pound-toes of torque this motor delivers in the GLA45 is pitch-great.

It can be a unusual motor, far too absolutely sure, it’ll sit down reduced in the revs and spit out torque as needed, but you will find a tiny bit of outdated-faculty Honda VTEC motion taking place listed here, mainly because the M139 loves to rev. It will sit between 4,000 and seven,000 rpm all day, making additional motive force than any Michigan backroad can tolerate. The GLA45’s eight-velocity dual-clutch automatic transmission is strike or miss out on, nevertheless even though it delivers practically fast shifts (and a tiny additional tailpipe theater) underneath large load, it really is not incredibly sleek at reduce speeds. If you feed it just a tiny additional throttle than necessary, specifically when the quit-begin procedure is activated, it’ll lurch forward clunkily. Some sharp stabs of the throttle are achieved with a “hurry up and wait” frame of mind, far too, as the transmission hunts for the gear it desires and then will take its sweet time bringing it up.

The relaxation of the GLA45’s driving working experience is mainly method-dependent. The car is incredibly chill in its default Consolation location. The normal adaptive suspension is still athletics-car rigid in this method, but it really is sleek sufficient on wonderful streets to in which I could visualize prolonged excursions remaining additional than workable. Flip the change to Sport and the GLA45 is ready to bash human body roll disappears underfoot, the steering bodyweight increases to practically comical proportions and the transmission last but not least knows what gear it desires to be in in advance of time. It can be far far too intense for any highway that was not paved yesterday, specifically in publish-snow Michigan in which thaw cycles put scaled-down potholes within of past year’s still-not-fastened large potholes, but it really is still a dang hoot.

Even the gasoline economic system is just not the absolute pits. The EPA prices the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 at 20 miles per gallon city, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg put together. For a practically four hundred-hp efficiency car, that’s not bad at all, and in true-earth driving I am ready to get incredibly close to 30 mpg on the highway. A mild foot will get you far.

The GLA’s cabin is adequately upscale, and if you have been in any other modern-day Benz, it really should experience rather acquainted, far too.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Whilst the first-gen GLA-Class felt like additional of a technological punishment, the opposite is the case with the 2021 GLA45. MBUX, the automaker’s newest and finest infotainment procedure, is normal, residing on a 10.3-inch touchscreen with redundant bodily controls on the steering wheel and heart console. It can be a fantastic procedure, with a menu layout that would not acquire prolonged to grasp, responsiveness even shortly soon after a chilly begin and all the usual embedded frippery like a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Car. The “Hey, Mercedes” pure-language voice recognition operates brilliantly, as very well. Charging will come by way of four USB ports complete — a USB-C by the cup holders, a USB-A in the heart armrest and a pair of USB-C ports in the back. Make absolutely sure your cords are up to day, nevertheless, mainly because the USB-A port up entrance would not aid smartphone mirroring. Embedded navigation is a $1,295 option, and even though it involves the neat augmented-reality convert-by-convert display screen, it might not be value the scratch if you are a smartphone fanatic.

Whilst safety tech may well not be at the entrance of your head in a efficiency car, Mercedes-Benz would make absolutely sure it really is there — presented you experience like paying for it. Common driver assists are restricted to blind-place monitoring, forward-collision warning and automatic unexpected emergency braking. Plunk down $1,090 to include a surround-watch camera and parking sensors, or drop $1,seven hundred for comprehensive-velocity adaptive cruise handle, lane-maintaining assist, energetic blind-place monitoring and route-based velocity adaptation.

You should not like the touchpad? Great! With MBUX, you can generally dismiss it.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Regardless of all the new stuff plucked from better branches on the Mercedes-Benz tree, the 2021 AMG GLA45 is just not all that high-priced. It’ll value $fifty five,550 including location to get your foot in the doorway, and most of the available possibilities are contained in cheap enhance offers. My tester piles it on, including uprated leather, metallic paint, more substantial 20-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and the navigation deal, leaving the factory with a $62,a hundred and fifty window sticker. Not far too shabby.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 would not truly have significantly legitimate competitiveness. Its diminutive footprint puts it a class beneath other better-driven 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 really is closer to the marginally considerably less peppy GLA35. Which is probably for the best, nevertheless, mainly because any automaker would have a difficult time topping the GLA45’s equivalent doses of entry-amount luxurious and flat-out powertrain insanity.