The car market is being subdivided into ever-increasing niche subcategories, and the 2022 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is the perfect example. This compact crossover SUV is more of a lifted hot hatch than an actual SUV and is aimed at hot hatch fans who've made whoopsies with Tinder dates and need the extra space. With the only real competition coming from the equally weird BMW X2 M35i and the Mini JCW Countryman, the GLA 35 lives in a small bubble in which it thrives: with 302 horsepower on tap from its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, a mildly rapid 0-60 mph time, and all the luxuries associated with an AMG car, this might just be the perfect compromise for young car guys and gals with a young family who enjoy the finer things in life.
No significant changes occur for the 2022 model year. Still, Mercedes-AMG has added a new exterior paint color, Rose Gold, the Premium Package now includes SiriusXM, and the new AMG Night Plus Package adds a bit of menace to an otherwise family-friendly exterior design. The only other change is the addition of a standard USB-C cable.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG GLA 35||
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Life comes at you fast, and many young guys and girls who used to enjoy hot hatchbacks now find themselves having to trade in their street weapons for crossover SUVs to accommodate the spawn and all their paraphernalia. The GLA 35 is an obvious choice for young professionals who still want to enjoy driving but have a baby or two onboard. As with the rest of the AMG range, the GLA 35 clearly feels like a driving machine, and unlike so many compact SUVs that feel soft, bordering on mushy (perfect for driving sleeping kids around) the GLA 35 can feel stiff, bordering on harsh if you're not used to performance cars. This won't be an issue for the majority who know what they're buying into. The GLA 35 settles in nicely on the open road and offers a quiet, planted feel on the highway. Drive the GLA 35 with vigor, and you'll find great traction and a dab of understeer. The AWD system sends a perfect 50/50 torque split to the front and rear so that you won't slide your tail out too often, but this thing is still way more fun than your average people carrier in this class.
Mercedes-AMG has struck a genius balance with the GLA 35. This car is infinitely more rewarding and exciting to drive than anything Audi or Volvo can offer and is, in our opinion, the better car to live with when compared to its most direct rival, the BMW X2 M35i. The GLA 35 is an interesting but totally viable option for those who have moved on from hot hatches but are still looking for performance and fun. Don't let the crossover status fool you: this family-friendly Merc will happily sit with a Golf R in the canyons. The GLA isn't as practical as its less performance-focused rivals, but it does sport a luxurious cabin and lots of standard tech. Yes, it's on the expensive side of the spectrum, but there aren't any other cars that do the same job. We think it's a hit.
The BMW X2 M35i is another of those strange hybrids between performance hatch and crossover SUV-thing, and it's the closest rival the GLA 35 has. These cars are similarly priced and offer around 300 hp from their turbocharged 2.0L engines. Both are AWD and relatively fun to drive. We much prefer the Mercedes-AMG's exterior styling, and the interior is also a fair bit more emotional and premium-feeling. However, the BMW is the more practical car and offers a larger trunk. It's also slightly more fuel-efficient, but not by much. The GLA 35 is a well-rounded car that just feels like the more grown-up choice, and for that reason, we'll take it over the BMW, despite the higher cost.
The Audi Q3 is a popular model in this segment due to its comfort, practicality, and brand status. Unfortunately, the Q3 family doesn't offer a true competitor to the GLA 35. The Q3 kicks out a maximum of 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which means the GLA 35 is clearly the better performing car, but the Q3 claws back some points by offering more cargo space behind the rear seat and a more comfortable ride (if that's your thing). The Audi's interior is well built and premium feeling, but lacks the drama of the AMG cabin. If you're after a solid but not too exciting luxury compact crossover, the Q3 is a good bet, but if you want to get your heart rate up, the GLA 35 is the only choice.