- Redesigned GLA adds high-performance AMG version
- 382 horsepower, 354 lb-ft of torque
- 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder, 8-speed DCT, AWD
- 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, 155-mph top speed
- Previous model priced just under $55,000
- Arrives in dealerships in late 2020
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 makes its debut at the Geneva auto show and joins the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 and AMG-enhanced GLA 35. The newly redesigned subcompact crossover range is complete with three models.
AMG-specific design cues
As the ultimate AMG offering in the lineup, the 2021 GLA 45 wears the vertical-bar grille seen on larger AMG models. Twin blisters adorn the hood and flared wheel arches are finished in black. At the rear, a prominent rear wing-like appendage is perched atop the liftgate, while a diffuser and quad exhaust outlets appear below.
AMG-specific wheels are 19 inches in diameter, and 21s are optional. Behind them, gray calipers squeeze on vented and perforated brake discs. Models with the optional Dynamic Plus package boast larger front rotors (14.2 inches versus 13.0), acted upon by red 6-piston calipers.
The new GLA appears larger than its predecessor thanks to these design cues and aero bits. But, the model is in fact no longer overall, although it is fractionally taller. The side-window treatment adds rear quarter windows, visually lengthening the greenhouse.
Inside, sportiness is denoted by the specially shaped seats and sport steering wheel. Even more aggressive AMG Performance seats and an AMG Performance wheel are available. The MB-Tex and Dinamica microsuede with either red or yellow accents upholstery and patterned aluminum trim complete the interior look.
Hand-built M139 2.0-liter I4
A new 2.0-liter turbo I4 codenamed M139 powers the GLA 45. For the first time, its engine is hand-built by a single mechanic at AMG’s Affalterbach, Germany factory, and wears a plaque with the name of its builder. Interestingly, the M139 is transverse-mounted but faces the opposite direction of the 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder in the GLA 35. This orients the exhaust manifold and the twin-scroll turbocharger toward the firewall and the intake toward the front, allowing for a lower hood.
Output increases from the previous generation’s 375 horses to 382 (same as in the CLA 45 sedan). Europe gets a 421-hp version in their CLA 45 S, but so far there’s no indication that variant will come to the GLA or the United States.
The 2.0L’s peak torque of 354 lb-ft is on tap from 4,750 to 5,000 rpm—higher than usual for a turbocharged four. AMG says that’s intentional to better emulate the driving character of a naturally aspirated engine. The 2021 GLA 45’s output figures put well ahead of the also-AMG-fortified GLA 35, with its 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft.
The 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox incorporates AMG’s Race Start function, which helps the new GLA 45 sprint to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. That beats the GLA 35 by 0.7 second but is not quite as quick its 4.0-second sedan counterpart. Nor does the GLA 45 offer that model’s option to raise the top speed limiter to 168 mph—the GLA 45 tops out at 155 mph.
4MATIC+ with AMG Torque Control
As before, the GLA 45 sends its engine’s output to all four wheels via 4MATIC+. This system includes AMG Torque Control, which allows torque to flow between the front and rear axles and side-to-side at the rear. This ability maximizes traction and agility. What’s missing on the GLA 45 is Drift Mode, a CLA 45 option that sends power exclusively to the rear wheels.
Many, many modes
Like all AMG models, the 2021 GLA 45 offers a confounding level of configurability. There are five drive modes (six counting Race mode on the Dynamic Plus option). They alter throttle mapping, transmission shift points, exhaust note, and suspension stiffness (adaptive dampers are standard). The Dynamic Plus package adds Basic, Advanced, Master, and Pro sub-modes. These further refine the stability control system, steering effort, and torque distribution. Mercifully, once a driver settles on favorites, they can be saved and then recalled via steering wheel buttons.
“Hey, Mercedes” highlights tech features
Dual 10.25-inch screens house the instrument cluster and the infotainment system. The virtual cluster offers multiple displays, including one with a large tachometer at the center. Like the rest of the A-class family, the GLA 45 incorporates the MBUX Interior Assistant. It can be voice-operated by saying “Hey, Mercedes,” as well as through gestures.
We don’t imagine many crossover buyers go to track days, but those who do may appreciate the included AMG Track Pace app. It displays a driver’s best times around a circuit on either the screen or in the head-up display. It also has major racetracks stored within its memory (and new ones can be recorded), for which it can display the racing line. Additionally, it records acceleration times, g-forces, and braking distances.
2021 GLA 45 arrival and pricing
The GLA 45 arrives in dealerships in late 2020. It bows a few months after its lesser-powered siblings, the GLA 250 and GLA 35. Pricing has not yet been announced, but the previous version was priced just under $55,000.
Can’t wait for the new Mercedes GLA? Shop now for a deal on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLA at a dealership near you.