By Matt Schmitz on January 6, 2014
Competes with: BMW X1, Land Rover Range Rover Evoque, Audi Q5
Looks like: A toned-down version of the GLA45 AMG concept we saw at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, which looked like an amped-up version of the GLA250 crossover
Drivetrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder good for 355 horsepower and 332 pounds-feet of torque and mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission
Hits dealerships: Fall 2014
When we first saw the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG concept at the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show in November, Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder referred to it as a "not-very-concepty concept." Less than two months later, Wiesenfelder's description proves prescient as the production version of the high-performance sibling of the GLA250 compact crossover readies for its world debut next week at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The automaker expects the all-wheel-drive GLA45 AMG to hit dealerships by fall; no pricing info is yet available.
As expected, the production version of the GLA45 AMG drops the concept's more in-your-face racing cues such as large decals, numbers on the doors and the rear spoiler (at least on the standard version). Track-ready features that do carry over to production, however, include the drivetrain, which Mercedes touts as the "most powerful series-production four-cylinder engine in the world."
Mercedes says the crossover's exterior design is intended as an "expression of modern luxury with muscular elements exclusive to AMG." Features include a front fascia with a front splitter and "twin-blade" radiator grille, both matte titanium gray; AMG badges; black air-deflector elements above large cooling air intakes at the sides; bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights; side sill panels with matte titanium gray inserts; a rear diffuser insert with gray trim; twin tailpipes with rectangular, chrome-plated trim; gray- or optional red-painted brake calipers; and five-twin-spoke AMG alloy wheels painted titanium gray with a high-sheen finish or optional 10-spoke alloy wheels painted gray or matte black. A host of optional exterior features, including that rear spoiler as well as carbon-fiber details, are also available. Further exterior details and badging come with the Edition 1 options package.
In the cabin are sport seats covered in synthetic leather and microfiber with red contrast stitching and red seat belts, a Nappa-leather-covered sports steering wheel with red contrast stitching, an AMG instrument cluster with two-tube design and central color display and brushed-aluminum and brushed-stainless-steel trim. Optional upgrades include Nappa-leather upholstery in varied colors and carbon-fiber trim. Additional interior flourishes and badging are also available in the Edition 1 package.
The GLA45 AMG is propelled from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 355 horsepower and 332 pounds-feet of torque, according to Mercedes. That's a greater output than any other production engine of its size. The automaker quotes a top speed of 155 mph.
The engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission with three modes, including the fast-shifting, sound-maximizing Manual and Sport modes, as well as Controlled Efficiency for smoother, more comfortable and fuel-efficient acceleration using an engine stop-start function. The SUV comes standard with variable AMG 4Matic four-wheel drive — which uses front-wheel drive during normal driving and transfers engine power as needed based on road conditions — in addition to AMG sports suspension and high-performance braking systems.
Check out the photos below.
News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt