Unfortunately, the crossover craze is far from over and continues to spawn oddities, such as the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45. This second-generation model finds itself in the awkward position of having no real direct competitors on the US market. The closest ones we can think of are cars such as the Honda Civic Type R and VW Golf R. Nevertheless, this is still a full-blooded AMG product (even if it is one of the cheapest ones), which means you get excellent build quality, solid reliability, and a ton of performance. Under the hood of the 5-door Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 SUV lies a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder gas engine producing an impressive 382 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. We like to think of this car as a hot hatchback with a bit more junk in the trunk, and if you look at it that way, it starts to make a bit more sense.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is an entirely new model this year, based on the all-new GLA subcompact crossover. Other than the CLA 45, this is the only 45 product on sale in the USA, albeit in a detuned state. In Europe, you get an additional "S" in the nomenclature, taking the power output up to 421 hp. Still, this is a proper AMG with styling and performance to match. It also gets the 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system to effectively put all that power down. As the halo model in the GLA range, it looks the part with its butch AMG body styling.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG GLA 45 4MATIC||
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
Mercedes-AMG has honed the 2021 GLA 45 crossover into a razor-sharp tool compared to the previous vehicle, which suffered from a clumsy 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and muted all-wheel-drive system. The 2021 model features a similar 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 engine that produces a massive 382 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. Set this car in Race mode and drop the brake, and you'll see the 60 mph mark appear in an official 4.3 seconds, but independent tests have shown figures of under four seconds. With this focus on performance, fuel economy takes a back seat, but it's still no too bad. The top speed is limited to 155 mph, and its crossover body style promises a decent towing capacity, though no official figure is given.
Some might find it strange that Mercedes-AMG doesn't offer its proper hot hatch, the A45 AMG, in the USA, but a dwindling market that only features a few key players such as the Golf R, Hyundai Veloster N, and Honda Civic Type-R doesn't seem attractive enough for the German brand, which has decided to stick to the performance SUV market for now. This means that the GLA 45 sits on its own on the playground with no real direct competitors. The little crossover offers explosive straight-line speed and will sit closely with even its most athletic and lighter compadres. It might be low on the AMG price scale, but it feels like a true AMG and sports a comfortable and spacious interior and excellent tech, but be aware of those options; the GLA 45 can get pricey. Like most such premium cars, there is no review of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA's safety rating by either the NHTSA or IIHS, but the comprehensive list of standard tech should alleviate any fears. Yes, you can get a more engaging driving experience for less cash, but those who like a bit of premium luxury will find it hard to ignore the GLA 45.
We suggest getting one in Iridium Silver metallic with the 21-inch AMG cross-spoke wheels and the $1,550 AMG Aerodynamics package, which adds the AMG Night package and a bunch of cool-looking wings and splitters. Other options we'd go for include the $1,700 Driver Assistance Package, which adds driver-assistance features such as steering assist, active distance control, and active brake assist. The $2,050 AMG Dynamic PLUS package is a must for performance nuts and adds important features such as RACE mode, an AMG drive unit, and AMG track Pace. If you were to opt for everything on this list, the price of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 SUV would be $65,665 with destination included.