2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 First Look Review: The AMG Hot Hatch Returns

First Look / 3 Comments

It's technically a crossover, but we have other theories.

After the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 was revealed, it was only a matter of time before the hotter 45 model made a comeback. Introducing the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45, one of the most powerful four-cylinder cars you will be able to buy in North America. The GLA 45 is once again joined by the CLA 45 in the US lineup, sharing the same underpinnings, engine, and transmission.

Mercedes will likely reveal a GLB 45 to complete the 45 lineup but the A45 hatch will remain in Europe only. Just like the previously revealed CLA 45, we won't be getting the hotter GLA 45 S model here in the US but even without the additional power, this hot crossover will pretty much go uncontested when it arrives in late 2020.

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Side View

Hot Hatch Styling On A Crossover

The A45 hatchback will, sadly, not come to the US market. In its place (like last time) will be the GLA 45, which is technically a crossover. But if you take a close look at the last generation GLA, it quickly becomes apparent that the car is more like a slightly tall hatchback than a true crossover. When AMG got its hands on the car, it lowered the suspension even more so it truly looked like a hot hatch. Mercedes hasn't released the height dimensions for this new GLA 45 yet but has specified that the new GLA 250 is just 63.5 inches tall. For reference, the last-generation GLA 45 was 63.4 inches. Therefore, we expect this new model to sit even lower and look even more like a hot hatch than the last GLA 45.

As for the rest of the design, Mercedes-AMG has nailed another car with its signature Panamericana grille, 19-inch wheels (with available 21s), front splitter, and rear diffuser. To prove AMG wanted to build a hot hatch that Americans would actually buy, it even included a massive roof spoiler like a Civic Type R.

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AMG Nails Another Cabin

Mercedes has been on fire lately with its designs both on the exterior and the interior. We expect no less from the GLA 45, which shares its cabin design with the A-Class, CLA, and GLB. The MBUX infotainment system lives on two screens, one that displays the gauges and driving information and a second that handles music and other duties. AMG models are differentiated via a flat-bottom performance steering wheel with a built-in drive mode selector. Yellow accents on the dash, doors, and seats give a sportier vibe and aggressive AMG Performance seats are available to hold you tighter on a track. The GLA 45 may be based on an entry-level luxury crossover but there is nothing entry-level about this cabin.

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Central Control Panel

The Most Powerful Production Four-Banger

Volvo may have Mercedes beat in terms of four-cylinder output but it has to use a supercharger and a hybrid motor to get over 400 horsepower. The GLA 45's M139 2.0-liter engine produces 382 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque with just a turbocharger, making this the most powerful turbocharged production-series four-cylinder available. As with all AMG models, the "One Man, One Engine" principle is used here, as only one person is allowed to assemble this four-banger in Affalterbach.

The GLA 45 requires an estimated 4.3 seconds to hit 60 mph, though we imagine real-world tests might be able to crack into the three-second range. There is just one bit of bad news here. The GLA 45 S, which produces 421 hp, will only be offered in Europe.

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Pricing And Competition

For all intents and purposes, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 will have no competition when it arrives at dealerships in late 2020. The Audi RS Q3 will not be sold in the US and BMW does not offer an M version of its X1 or X2. The closest rival we can think of is the Porsche Macan GTS with its 375-hp V6 but it is larger than the GLA and more closely competes with the GLC 43. Mercedes has not revealed pricing for any of the upcoming GLA models but the 2019 GLA 45 started at $53,350, so we expect this new model to carry a slightly higher MSRP.

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Rear Angle View

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