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2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG GLA

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2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG GLA Expert Review

By Matt Degen

KBB Expert Rating: 8.6

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is the wild-child brother of the standard GLA 250 compact SUV (see separate review). Though they look like twins, the AMG GLA couldn't be more different in attitude, mission and price. For the uninitiated, AMG is the performance division of Mercedes, and it was born to turn existing models into firecrackers. In the GLA's case, that means stroking a turbocharged 4-cylinder to an incredible 375 horsepower, which grants 4.3-second 0-60-mph bursts. Upgrades also come to the transmission, all-wheel-drive system, suspension and other hardware. While the standard GLA faces rivals like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, the AMG GLA has its own seat at the table. At over $51,000, the AMG GLA's niche nature is also reflected in its price premium.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you already like the GLA compact-luxury SUV's looks, size and amenities, but want nearly double the horsepower and all the performance upgrades that come with a Mercedes-AMG, the GLA 45 is your ticket. Because it's based on Mercedes' entry-level crossover SUV, this performance SUV is also quite the sleeper.

You May Not Like This Car If...

At over $51,000, this high-powered GLA's starting price is over $17,000 more than a base GLA, a substantial bump for a small-luxury-crossover SUV. And while there's no lacking in power, the AMG GLA, like the standard model, can feel twitchy on the highway.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.6
  • 9.0
  • 8.7
  • 9.0
  • 8.8
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#2

out of 18

Fuel Economy

#2

out of 18

Horsepower
View all rankings
2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG GLA Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

As with the standard model, the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 gets a freshening for 2018 like restyled front and rear aesthetics, and updated instrument cluster with new number design. A 360-degree camera is available, as is Android Auto compatibility.

Driving the Mercedes-AMG GLA
2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG GLA Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is similar in spirit to its CLA 45 compact 4-door sibling, which uses the same engine. While that subcompact sedan can sprint to...

... 60 mph a hair faster, the GLA has a higher seating position and the practicality that comes with a sport ute. Compared to other AMG models, the GLA 45 feels youthful and at times frenetic. Wringing 375 ponies from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is a loud affair, and for better or worse is linked to a turbocharged rush. Also for better or worse, it rather begs you to be a deviant. We must confess to loving the initial rush of acceleration, though its stiff suspension and boosted personality can take its toll if all you crave is a comfortable ride after a long day's labor. With its tidy size and shorter wheelbase, the AMG GLA 45 can feel nervous at higher speeds.

AMG DYNAMIC PLUS PACKAGE
Call this the "go-big-or-go-home" option on the AMG GLA. This package bundles even sportier suspension with 2-stage damping, limited-slip front differential, "race mode" in drive settings and a raised top speed to 167 mph.

THAT ENGINE
This is one little powerhouse, literally. It may only be 2.0 liters in displacement, but the performance wizards at AMG have cajoled it to make 375 horsepower -- the most powerful 4-cylinder engine in production, Mercedes boasts.

2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG GLA Details
2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG GLA Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

As with the standard GLA, the AMG version features a 2-row/5-passenger setup that can best be described as cozy. Front-seat passengers are treated to supportive 14-way-power seats, but space -- especially legroom -- is stingy in the rear. While the AMG GLA's main mission is one of performance, like the standard model it has more than a semblance of utility. Fold the seats and it creates 43-plus cubic feet of cargo space. Genuine leather can be had in place of the faux MB-Tex upholstery, but it costs extra. For an even racier feel, Recaro performance front seats are also optional.

Exterior
2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG GLA photo

The AMG GLA certainly has the same basic form as the standard GLA -- more of stylish, high-riding hatchback than traditional SUV -- but a few unique aesthetics point to this one's performance credentials. This compact-performance-crossover SUV has aerodynamic lower bodywork, quad exhaust outlets and an AMG-specific grille. The AMG Night Package throws gloss-black treatments across the body, and if for some reason you want your luxury SUV to have a boy-racer vibe, a rear wing spoiler is available -- with bright yellow accents, no less. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard, as is a power tailgate.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Out the gate, the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 comes with a handcrafted engine and a litany of high-performance hardware, from upgraded brakes to a sport exhaust. Other notable features include 14-way-power front seats, power tailgate, dual-zone climate control, and brake assist, in which the car can automatically apply the brakes if it senses a collision. Along with a prominent center screen, other infotainment highlights include AM/FM/CD/HD Radio audio system with dual USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity. The AMG GLA 45 also comes with five years of the mbrace Connect Package, which grants remote access to vehicle functions from your phone.

Optional Equipment

In addition to performance upgrades, the GLA 45 can be outfitted with a panoramic sunroof, navigation, hands-free tailgate, heated front seats and harman/kardon premium audio. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration are also available, but cost extra. Driver-assist and active safety options include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keep assist, surround-view camera and Park Pilot, which assists with parallel parking. In-vehicle Wi-Fi is also available, as are various interior and exterior aesthetic packages.

Under the Hood
2018 Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-AMG GLA Engine photo

The heart of the 2018 AMG GLA 45 is a small but mighty, handcrafted 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that makes 375 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. All this force is transmitted through a 7-speed twin-clutch automatic transmission. Unlike the regular GLA in which front-wheel drive is standard and 4Matic all-wheel drive is optional, all AMG GLA versions have the 4Matic system, and an AMG-enhanced one at that with torque-vectoring. The AMG GLA uses an Eco Start/Stop system that shuts off the engine at idle, such as stoplights. If you find the restarts too abrupt or just don't like the act of your engine stopping, the system can be defeated at the press of a button.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
375 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
350 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/28 mpg

The 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $51,595. That's a significant premium over the standard model, but it’s the second-least expensive Mercedes-AMG model, right after the AMG CLA 45. Fully loaded, the AMG GLA 45 can eclipse the $70,000 mark, a lot of coin for a small-luxury SUV. As Audi doesn't offer an RS Q3 in America and there currently is no high-powered M version of a BMW X1, the AMG GLA 45 sits in a class unto itself among high-performance subcompact-luxury-crossover SUVs. Before buying yours, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. As for the AMG GLA's resale value, as it's a rather small-volume, niche vehicle, number crunchers haven't predicted its residuals.

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