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

Maria J. Danford

Even with the large wheels, the GLA45 is pretty unassuming in every day operation. Andrew Krok/Roadshow The initially-gen Mercedes GLA45 AMG sucked. It was an high-priced heap that was perpetually uncomfortable and appeared about as fantastic as it drove. Fortunately, Mercedes-AMG acquired some lessons about the decades. Now, the new-for-2021 […]

Even with the large wheels, the GLA45 is pretty unassuming in every day operation.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

The initially-gen Mercedes GLA45 AMG sucked. It was an high-priced heap that was perpetually uncomfortable and appeared about as fantastic as it drove. Fortunately, Mercedes-AMG acquired some lessons about the decades. Now, the new-for-2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is a entirely recognized compact luxurious crossover with a bonkers tiny powertrain tucked under the hood for fantastic measure, producing for a single hell of a second act.


  • Gobs of electricity
  • Carlike handling
  • Perfectly-appointed interior

Will not Like

  • Rides a tiny rigid
  • Lower-speed driveline wonkiness
  • Very small trunk

The unique GLA-Course appeared like a surprised hatchback sporting tall footwear. The gist is the same this time all-around — the second-gen GLA-Course is nevertheless mainly a hatchback with a lift package — but I think the look is much more cohesive. The huge-eyed countenance has been swapped out in favor of some thing a tiny much more streamlined, but I think the GLA45 appears greatest from at the rear of, exactly where a shorter overhang and people ever-present quadruple AMG tailpipes make for some intense aesthetics. 

The GLA’s interior no for a longer period feels woefully inexpensive. There is no small tiny screen floating atop a menagerie of dated buttons as an alternative, everything is mounted nice and low, and borrowing quite a few diverse design and style staples from larger sized, much more high-priced Mercedes types suggests the interior feels far much more important than just before, even nevertheless the dashboard is nevertheless mottled vinyl and there’s nevertheless a honest handful of circumstances of difficult plastic scattered all-around. Remaining an AMG, I’m not surprised to see carbon fiber producing an physical appearance on the dash and doorway panels, but luckily, there isn’t really so a lot of it that I come to feel like I’m headed to Scorching Import Nights. Pair it with some much more top quality touches like good steel on the optional Nappa-leather-based-wrapped steering wheel ($400), and you’ve got obtained rather the nice place to invest some time.

Tiny automobiles want to prioritize perform, since there isn’t really a full lot of extra house floating all-around. The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 has some strong interior packaging in this situation, with a adequately deep cubby under the armrest, large doorway pockets and a big storage tray ahead of the cup holders. The crossover’s roof is pretty flat, which suggests back-row occupants have plenty of house, and it feels a lot airier when the $1,five hundred panoramic glass roof is thrown into the combine. Rear-seat storage solutions are confined, as the middle seat will not change to a folding armrest (except you shell out $360 for the privilege) and the doorway pockets are a tiny little, but individuals in the back do get cargo nets on the entrance seat backs along with two USB-C ports and a 115-volt two-prong outlet, which is nice. Nonetheless, irrespective of currently being a hatchback, cargo house is on the paltry aspect the GLA45’s 15.four-cubic-foot trunk pales in comparison to that of the Volvo XC40 (twenty.seven), Audi Q3 (23.seven) and BMW X1 (27.1).

Underneath the GLA45’s hood lies a single of my private favorite automotive engineering marvels: the M139 motor. Able of producing in extra of 400 horsepower in some present European-only apps, this high-strung turbocharged 2.-liter I4 is developed in its very own high-tech corner of Mercedes-AMG’s Affalterbach motor facility, and it deserves that royal therapy. Even though the sounds wavers somewhere among “indignant beehive” and “indignant farm gear,” the 382 hp and 354 pound-toes of torque this motor provides in the GLA45 is pitch-ideal.

It’s a bizarre motor, way too sure, it’s going to sit down low in the revs and spit out torque as wanted, but there’s a tiny little bit of previous-faculty Honda VTEC motion taking place below, mainly because the M139 loves to rev. It will sit among four,000 and seven,000 rpm all working day, building much more motive power than any Michigan backroad can tolerate. The GLA45’s eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission is strike or overlook, nevertheless though it provides just about fast shifts (and a tiny added tailpipe theater) under weighty load, it’s not pretty clean at lessen speeds. If you feed it just a tiny much more throttle than important, primarily when the cease-start out procedure is activated, it’s going to lurch ahead clunkily. Some sharp stabs of the throttle are met with a “hurry up and hold out” mindset, way too, as the transmission hunts for the gear it would like and then requires its sweet time bringing it up.

The rest of the GLA45’s driving knowledge is largely manner-dependent. The car or truck is astonishingly chill in its default Ease and comfort environment. The standard adaptive suspension is nevertheless sports activities-car or truck rigid in this manner, but it’s clean enough on nice roadways to exactly where I could imagine lengthy outings currently being much more than workable. Flip the switch to Sport and the GLA45 is completely ready to get together overall body roll disappears underfoot, the steering pounds will increase to just about comical proportions and the transmission ultimately is aware what gear it would like to be in ahead of time. It’s far way too intense for any street that wasn’t paved yesterday, primarily in write-up-snow Michigan exactly where thaw cycles put smaller sized potholes within of final year’s nevertheless-not-fixed large potholes, but it’s nevertheless a dang hoot.

Even the gas economic climate isn’t really the absolute pits. The EPA premiums the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 at twenty miles per gallon metropolis, 27 mpg highway and 23 mpg blended. For a just about 400-hp efficiency car or truck, that is not bad at all, and in serious-globe driving I’m in a position to get astonishingly shut to 30 mpg on the highway. A gentle foot will get you far.

The GLA’s cabin is thoroughly upscale, and if you’ve got been in any other fashionable Benz, it really should come to feel pretty familiar, way too.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

While the initially-gen GLA-Course felt like much more of a technological punishment, the reverse is the situation with the 2021 GLA45. MBUX, the automaker’s newest and finest infotainment procedure, is standard, residing on a ten.3-inch touchscreen with redundant actual physical controls on the steering wheel and center console. It’s a amazing procedure, with a menu format that will not choose lengthy to master, responsiveness even soon just after a chilly start out and all the usual embedded frippery like a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The “Hey, Mercedes” purely natural-language voice recognition functions brilliantly, as well. Charging arrives by way of 4 USB ports whole — a USB-C by the cup holders, a USB-A in the center armrest and a pair of USB-C ports in the back. Make sure your cords are up to day, nevertheless, mainly because the USB-A port up entrance will not aid smartphone mirroring. Embedded navigation is a $1,295 solution, and though it features the neat augmented-truth transform-by-transform display screen, it may not be worth the scratch if you happen to be a smartphone fanatic.

Even though safety tech could possibly not be at the entrance of your mind in a efficiency car or truck, Mercedes-Benz will make sure it’s there — offered you come to feel like paying for it. Standard driver helps are confined to blind-location monitoring, ahead-collision warning and automated unexpected emergency braking. Plunk down $1,090 to insert a surround-perspective digicam and parking sensors, or drop $1,seven-hundred for entire-speed adaptive cruise command, lane-maintaining support, lively blind-location monitoring and route-dependent speed adaptation.

Will not like the touchpad? Fantastic! With MBUX, you can mainly dismiss it.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

In spite of all the refreshing things plucked from better branches on the Mercedes-Benz tree, the 2021 AMG GLA45 isn’t really all that high-priced. It’s going to charge $fifty five,550 together with vacation spot to get your foot in the doorway, and most of the offered solutions are contained in economical enhance deals. My tester piles it on, together with uprated leather-based, metallic paint, larger sized twenty-inch alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof and the navigation deal, leaving the factory with a $sixty two,a hundred and fifty window sticker. Not way too shabby.

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 will not truly have a lot correct competitiveness. Its diminutive footprint places it a course below other better-powered 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 shut, I guess, but it’s nearer to the a little bit much less peppy GLA35. That is almost certainly for the greatest, nevertheless, mainly because any automaker would have a difficult time topping the GLA45’s equal doses of entry-level luxurious and flat-out powertrain madness.

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