To properly turn a standard Benz into an AMG requires more than just a power-boosted engine and a waterfall grille. Take the 2023 Mercedes-AMG GLA-class, for instance, which does get both of those things but also offers enhanced handling by way of a retuned suspension and sticky tires. The AMG version of the GLA-class is a fiery little crossover that brings two levels of heat, with either 302 or 382 horsepower under its stubby hood. There are compromises too. For example, the ride is flinty and can be a little too stiff for day-to-day use. But if you’re worried about comfort above all you’re probably not considering an AMG anyway—that’s what the standard Benz GLA is for. The Mercedes-AMG brand is one that’s devoted to performance, and its products are thoroughly engineered to deliver just that.
What’s New for 2023?
The AMG GLA-class duo rolls into 2023 with no changes. They’re both still packing hot turbocharged four-cylinder engines and still offering more practicality than their sedan sibling, the CLA-class.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Both the GLA35 and GLA45 have a host of standard performance features, including all-wheel drive and a tuned-and-tweaked suspension that pump the driving excitement way up versus the regular Mercedes-Benz GLA250. From an enthusiast’s perspective, that 382-hp turbo-four fitted to the GLA45 makes it the most compelling choice, and it’s the one we’d choose.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The base, AMG-massaged turbocharged four-cylinder makes 302 hp in the GLA35, and Mercedes claims that’s enough to zip the SUV to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds. The higher-powered GLA45 can do the same deed in a claimed 4.3 seconds. In our testing, the previous generation GLA45—which made 375 hp—hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, so we think Mercedes is being conservative on its acceleration claims for both of these enhanced models. AMG engineers have imbued these versions with the same amount of athleticism as the previous generation AMG GLA-class but have been able to work in a touch more ride comfort. The previous-generation model offered very little suspension compliance, which resulted in a punishing ride.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The GLA35 is estimated to deliver 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, and the more powerful GLA45 is predictably thirstier, with ratings of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. These efficiency numbers are similar to rivals such as the BMW X2 M35i and the Mini Cooper Countryman JCW. We haven’t had a chance to test the new GLA35 or GLA45 models on our 75-mph highway fuel economy route. For what it’s worth, the X2 M35i managed an impressive 33 mpg in the same test, and the last-generation GLA45 turned in a 28-mpg result. For more information about the GLA35 and GLA45’s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The standard GLA-class’s interior is roomier for rear-seat riders than the last-generation model, and that applies to the GLA35 as well. Interior material quality has taken a step up, and the interior design closely resembles other Mercedes SUVs that have recently launched. Sporty-looking front seats, red stitching, red seatbelts, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and carbon-fiber interior trim all give the AMG version of the GLA-class a racier ambiance. Cargo space is slightly larger than the outgoing model’s, and the load floor is now flush with the sill for easier loading and unloading.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Two giant 10.3-inch infotainment displays dominate the GLA-class’s dashboard. One serves as a reconfigurable gauge display and the other handles the infotainment system. The interface features Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX software, which offers the “Hey Mercedes” voice control system, but it also can be controlled via the touchscreen or the touchpad mounted on the center console. The system includes standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, but navigation costs extra.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
A suite of advanced driver-assistance features is offered as part of the Driver Assistance package, but automated emergency braking is standard. For more information about the GLA-class’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance
2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door hatchback
BASE PRICE (C/D EST)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, port and direct fuel injection
122 in3, 1991 cm3
382 hp @ 6500 rpm
354 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
8-speed dual-clutch automatic
Wheelbase: 107.4 in
Length: 174.6 in
Width: 72.8 in
Height: 62.5 in
Curb weight (C/D est): 3600 lb
PERFORMANCE (C/D EST)
60 mph: 3.9 sec
100 mph: 9.7 sec
1/4 mile: 12.4 sec
Top speed: 155 mph
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/city/highway: 25/23/29 mpg
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