Let’s face it, the previous GLA sucked, both the regular version and the AMG version. However, this new one is an entirely different story as it is not only able to hold its own against the Audi Q3, the BMW X1, and the Volvo XC40, but also because it beats them all as far as luxury, desirability, and comfort are concerned.
This means that now AMG has a great car to begin with which makes the job a lot easier. The GLA is a true Mercedes-worthy car and the AMG versions are both potent and exciting. The top-end GLA 45 AMG is filled with character and it is a wonderful urban-oriented pocket rocket.
As such, the GLA 45 is indeed a true AMG because it ticks all the boxes a true AMG should. Granted, it does not come with a fiery V8, but the V8 is now gone even for the upcoming C63 AMG. With a starting price of $54,500, the expectations are indeed high, yet it seems like the GLA 45 delivers.
Subcompact/crossover SUVs have become extremely popular lately which means that cars like the GLA 45 AMG are able to lure in new AMG customers. Mercedes is aware that the GLA is a popular car, that’s why Mercedes decided to give it a true AMG treatment.
Mercedes GLA 45 AMG – Market positioning
We live in a different era filled with new EV releases that promise to do 0-60mph in less than 3 seconds, even if they weigh more than 2.5 tons. These EVs are able to outrun even the highest-end V8 AMG models in a straight line which means that the GLA 45 AMG has no chance against such cars.
What the GLA 45 can do is to make the experience of driving feel special, even while stationary. The GLA 45 gets a range-topping AMG leather-wrapped steering wheel which can also be found in the high-end GT63 S AMG. The seats are supportive and the whole interior feels more special, more exciting.
The GLA 45 is not designed to spend its days on a race track, nor it is designed for a drag strip. The GLA 45 is way more exciting than the BMW X1 M135i and the Volvo XC40 is nowhere near as exciting. The Audi RS Q3 can stand its own against the GLA, but the Q3 is not for sale in the US.
However, the GLA 45 AMG has its place on the market and there are many people out there who want to own the GLA 45.
What makes a true AMG, and is the GLA 45 a true AMG?
Even AMG has to face the reality that big engines, loud exhausts, and thirsty engines are a thing of the past. A true AMG used to be a rear-wheel drive, naturally aspirated V8 that is able to pump you up the moment you turn the key and virtually replace your early morning cup of coffee.
Nowadays, AMG has to find different ways, they need to adapt to the ever more rigorous emissions and sound regulations that are virtually destroying the very essence of what a true AMG is/was. The brand new C63 AMG offers a revised version of the GLA 45 AMGs engine and hardly anyone would doubt the “AMG-ines” of the C63, until now.
The “true” AMG is gone, they are not going to make not a single new loud, naturally aspirated, rear-wheel drive hooligan ever again, at least not for the masses. As such, a true AMG of today is one that just makes you feel special and is able to offer you a more focused driving experience.
The GLA 45 is just that, a more special version of the regular GLA. In times where AMG needs to figure out a way how to make quiet and small engines special, the GLA 45 AMG stands as a beacon of hope that future AMGs are still going to be exciting and worth the asking price because the M139 engine in the GLA is rather impressive.
Mercedes GLA 45 AMG: The handcrafted AMG powertrain
AMG is trying its best to deliver as much excitement as it can from a small 2.0L 4-cylinder engine, and the M139 engine found in the GLA 45 is a prime example. At one point this was the single most powerful 4-cylinder engine on the planet and this speaks to how dedicated AMG is when it comes to making you feel special.
The M139 is not just a regular 2.0L Mercedes engine with an AMG disguise, but a rather true AMG powerplant that loves to rev up to 7K RPM. Switch the GLA 45 to sport mode and you will instantly feel the car hunker down, the exhaust gets louder and the suspension firms up significantly.
Body roll virtually disappears and the eight-speed dual-clutch automatic is able to shift gears in an instant. The M139 engine is indeed a true AMG engine, if you don’t believe it, try it for yourself.
Is the GLA 45 AMG worth it?
It depends on who you asking as some will tell you that a $60,000 decently equipped 2.0L subcompact entry-level Mercedes is a joke. It all depends on what you want from a car and if you like the GLA platform, you will love the GLA 45 AMG.
However, a $54,500 starting price is indeed high. For a spot of context, the GLE 350 mid-size SUV costs almost the very same amount. If you are able to appreciate what the GLA 45 can offer, then yes, it is worth it.
Is the Audi RS Q3 better than the GLA 45 AMG?
The Audi RS Q3 is not available in the US and it is likely not going to be anytime soon which means that the GLA 45 AMG is the best, most powerful subcompact SUV currently on sale. Between the two, I’d say that the RS Q3 is a better car because it offers a legendary 5-cylinder engine.
However, a few tests have shown that the GLA 45 is a lot more dynamic and is able to outrun the RS Q3 through the corners.
Is the GLA 45 AMG better than the CLA 45 AMG?
The CLA platform is a lot more focused than the GLA platform to begin with, and if you are after the more exciting and capable car, the CLA is a lot better. However, if you want to mix practicality and excitement, the GLA is a better choice.
The CLA offers quite a few compromises in order to be as dynamic as it is while the GLA does not. All in all, the CLA is a better AMG, but the GLA is a better car.