Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class

In 2015, Mercedes-Benz introduced an all-new luxury compact crossover in the GLA-Class. It rides quite sportingly on the capable chassis found in the CLA sedan and draws its power from either a 208-horsepower turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder or, in the GLA45, a tuned version of the same 2.0L 4-cylinder that makes 375 horsepower. The engine is mated to a dual-clutch 7-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and power is delivered to all four wheels. Three driving modes include Sport, Manual and ECO, which can shut off the engine when the vehicle is stopped and restart it automatically. Mercedes claims the GLA250 can scoot to 60 mph in just over seven seconds. The GLA45 can make 60 mph in an astonishing 4.8 seconds.

Both GLA models use a new generation of 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and the variable-torque system monitors each corner of the vehicle, sending up to 50 percent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels. The system also adapts to varying off-road conditions with an Off-Road mode.

The GLA250 comes well equipped with 18-inch wheels, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a choice of MB-Tex interior surfaces as well as ambient interior lighting, HD radio with Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and audio streaming, a 14-way power driver seat with memory, split-folding rear seats and a power liftgate.

Several stand-alone options allow buyers to fully customize the GLA, including a panorama roof, bi-xenon headlights and LED taillights, heated front seats, a harman/kardon sound system, rearview camera, Parktronic parking assist and blindspot assist. Meanwhile a Sport Package adds special exterior body styling, 19-inch AMG wheels and perforated front brakes with painted calipers. The Interior Package adds leather upholstery, sport seats and remote window opening/closing, while the Premium Package provides dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, the harman/kardon stereo and more. Finally, the Multimedia Package adds a rearview camera, advanced voice control, an 80GB hard-drive navigation system and in-dash SD card reader.

The GLA45 AMG is all about performance and its features and accessories all speak to that, including AMG sport suspension and sport exhaust. It also features available AMG performance seats and steering wheel, red-painted rear calipers, an aerodynamic package and rear deck lid spoiler.

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Editors' First Take

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A half-hour northwest of bustling Budapest, Hungary on narrow, winding roads just outside the Hungaroring racetrack, I'm giving the Mercedes-AMG GLA45 another shot.

Since it arrived in 2015, I've been lukewarm on Benz's high-performance small crossover and its less powerful GLA250 sibling because of their jerky drivetrains and disappointing interiors. The lineup felt half-baked, lacking the sort of refinement expected of cars wearing the Three-Pointed Star. For 2018, updates to the GLA-Class are warranting my reevaluation, but even as I climb aboard, I wonder if they will make a difference.

After just a few miles in the GLA45, things do feel better. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four, with 375 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, is as lively as ever, pulling madly to redline without suffering severe boost-lag symptoms. The manufacturer says this crossover will hit 60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, and charge to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. If that's not fast enough for you, an optional AMG Dynamic Plus Package pushes max velocity to 167.

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