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2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 35 review: Our expert's take
Competes with: Lexus UX, BMW X1 and X2
Looks like: The GLA grew up
Drivetrain: 221-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (GLA250); 302-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (Mercedes-AMG GLA35)
Hits dealerships: Summer 2020 (GLA250); late 2020 (AMG GLA35)
Mercedes-Benz’ littlest SUV is getting a significant update for 2021, with a new-look exterior that brings its design more in line with the rest of Mercedes’ SUVs and gives the GLA a more traditional SUV appearance. It also gets the new four-cylinder engines that have spread to the rest of the brand’s smaller models, from the A-Class and CLA-Class sedans to the all-new GLB SUV. That includes the Mercedes-AMG GLA35 getting a 302-horsepower, turbocharged four-cylinder and, hopefully, an upcoming GLA45 with a 382-hp, turbo four.
The updated looks don’t do anything to disguise the GLA’s size, but the new model is more than 3.9 inches taller than its predecessor as well as 0.6 inches shorter in length. The exterior design is also more in keeping with the latest design language coming out of the German automaker’s Stuttgart headquarters, giving the GLA a more upright look than the first generation. Mercedes still gave the GLA a sportier and more coupelike appearance compared with its more traditional GLB counterpart, but the GLA now looks much less like a slightly lifted hatchback.
The grille can be either Mercedes’ latest single-louver design for the GLA250 or the AMG-specific horizontal-bar design for the AMG GLA35. The headlights, like the rest of the vehicle, sit more level instead of the more raked design of the previous GLA. In the rear, the taillights are more compact units that allow for a wider liftgate opening and give the GLA a wider appearance overall.
Almost every interior measurement of the new GLA is larger than the previous generation, thanks in part to the overall height increase. Mercedes says front headroom is increased by 0.8 inches and, despite the GLA being shorter in height by 0.6 inches, the wheelbase is 1.1 inches longer, giving backseat passengers a claimed 4.5 inches of extra legroom. Not every measurement increased, however, as rear headroom is down 0.3 inches and front legroom by 0.8 inches.
A 7-inch digital gauge cluster is standard and a 10.25-inch version is optional; each pairs with an identically sized touchscreen multimedia display, powered by MBUX, the latest infotainment system from Mercedes. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The AMG GLA35 gets the dual 10.25-inch displays — what Mercedes calls the “widescreen” setup — as standard.
Under the Hood
Both front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the GLA250 will get a new, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The engine is good for 221 hp and 258 pounds-feet of torque and will move the GLA250 from 0-60 mph in an estimated 8.6 seconds.
The AMG GLA35 comes with standard all-wheel drive and a more powerful 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder good for 302 hp and 295 pounds-feet of torque, along with a differently tuned eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Mercedes says the AMG version of the GLA can go from 0-60 mph in approximately 5.0 seconds.
Standard on the all-wheel-drive GLA250, the Off-Road Engineering Package gives drivers an additional driving mode focused on off-road driving and a Downhill Speed Regulation feature that limits downhill speed to a set speed from 1 to 11 mph.
Some active safety features, like braking assist and a driver attention monitor, are standard, but most are still included as part of the optional Driver Assistance Package. That includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist with lane-centering steering, lane change assist, active emergency braking, active blind spot assist and a speed-limit assist feature that uses the in-car navigation system to keep the GLA from exceeding what it believes is the posted speed limit.
Mercedes has yet to release pricing information, but we should learn that as we get closer to the GLA250’s summer 2020 on-sale date. Pricing for the AMG GLA35 may not be revealed until closer to that version’s release date later next year.
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- Maximum age/mileage
6 years old or less/less than 75,000 miles
- Basic warranty terms
1 year/unlimited miles
- Powertrain1 year/unlimited milesView all cpo program details
- Dealer certification required
- 164-point inspection
- Roadside assistance
Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?
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