At the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz North America president and CEO Steve Cannon said he expects the new GLA crossover will “appeal to younger buyers who want to indulge in their appetite for style and their appetite for adventure.” While the GLA250 may be fine for some, nothing will exceed adventurous expectations more than the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG debuting at the 2014 Detroit auto show.
First revealed as a concept at the L.A. show in November, the GLA45 AMG was well-received, especially since it'll be the second-most-affordable AMG product, behind the $48,375 CLA45. But that doesn't mean it's any less of an AMG compared to larger stablemates such as the ML63 AMG, GL63 AMG, and G63 AMG. The 2015 GLA45 AMG is powered by the CLA45's turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 that makes 355 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, and Mercedes says the CUV can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds. The CLA45 AMG hit 60 mph in a Motor-Trend tested 4.2 seconds -- 0.3 seconds quicker than the automaker's estimate -- so don't be surprised if the GLA45 AMG can do the sprint in 4.5 seconds.
The engine isn't the only thing the GLA45 AMG has in common with the CLA45 AMG. Like the sports sedan, the CUV's engine features a weight-optimized forged steel crankshaft assembly, forged pistons with low-friction piston rings, Nanoslide cylinder lining, and a sand-cast aluminum crankcase. And it's no surprise the GLA45 also features a butterfly valve in the exhaust system that automatically opens to deliver the AMG purr at wide open throttle. At highway speeds, the valve closes for a more refined sound.
Power is driven to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch AMG sports transmission, which, like the CLA, gets a Race Start launch mode in addition to three other driving modes. Controlled Efficiency (C) mode softens transmission shifts, tones down engine output, and takes full advantage of the standard engine start-stop system. For those who want to liven things up, dialing into Sport (S) and Manual (M) modes increases shift times and really lets the exhaust butterfly valve do its thing. A momentary M setting allows the transmission to automatically shift at redline before returning to the current selected drive program.
Three modes are also available on the stability control system, including Sport Handling, ESP Curve Dynamic Assist, and ESP Off modes. The AMG treatment also includes an AMG-tuned suspension that has been equipped with special springs, dampers, and bigger anti-roll bars. As far as looks go, the GLA45 is unmistakably an AMG, with distinctive five-spoke alloy wheels finished in titanium gray or matte black paint. Red brake calipers are available, as well as larger 10-spoke wheels. The brake discs are vented for maximum stopping power.
In usual AMG fashion, the GLA45 AMG puts its best face forward with a twin-blade front grille design painted in matte gray. A new Turbo AMG badge is sandwiched between the louvers of the front grille and on the front quarter side panels, and the side sills are also painted matte gray. Around back, you'll find the usual AMG sports exhaust system with rectangular chrome-plated twin tailpipes. For those who want to step up the GLA45's game, a number of options are available, including an aerodynamics package that adds a larger front splitter and a rear spoiler, and the Night Package, which can also be had a la carte. Certain elements such as the front splitter, exterior mirrors, side sills, and the twin tailpipes are finished in black paint. An exterior carbon-fiber package is also available.
Inside the GLA45 AMG, you'll find leather sport seats with Dinamica microfiber inlays. Red seat belts and red contrast stitching on the seats and the three-spoke steering wheel add a pop of color. As for instrumentation, an AMG drive-mode selector and AMG-specific gauge cluster with a Racetimer function come standard. Of course, it's no surprise the GLA45 has the new-but-retro signature circular HVAC vents that first debuted on the CLA. Interior options include AMG's performance steering wheel, performance seats, and carbon-fiber trim.
For those who were smitten with the concept shown in L.A., Mercedes says the GLA45 AMG Edition 1 "arouses pure fascination." The souped-up CUV comes with the aerodynamic package, and like the concept, it features red, silver, and gray AMG racing stripes on the side panels. Red touches on the side mirrors, front grille, and rear spoiler add even more interest, while red brake calipers can be seen peeking out from underneath matte black wheels outlined with red paint. The Night package is included as standard equipment, and the Edition 1 badge on the front fender makes it known it's not just any other GLA45 AMG. Black, Silver, and Gray exterior colors are exclusive to the Edition 1, while inside it gets some of the optional features as standard.
Mercedes says the GLA45 AMG fits right into its high-performance SUV family, but we'll have to wait until we get our hands on one to see if those claims ring true.