2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is not messing around

With 382 horsepower onboard, the GLA45 remains small, yet mighty enough to surprise a stock, non-V8 muscle car at the drag strip.


The band's back together again. With the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45's reveal on Tuesday, the GLA lineup is whole once again after the second-generation SUV debuted late last year. If the GLA25 is the melodic frontman, and AMG GLA35 the guitarist with a catchy riff, the GLA45 is certainly the powerhouse drummer ready to ignite a chorus.

A powerhouse this little rocket is, indeed. The 2.0-liter turbo-four engine now makes 382 horsepower, an astounding amount of power from such a small power plant, with 354 pound-feet of torque on tap as well. Despite the added power, Mercedes-AMG still quotes an estimated 0-60 mph time of 4.3 seconds, which is identical to the outgoing model. Top speed also remains unchanged and electronically limited to 155 mph.

There's quite a lot going on with the hand-assembled 2.0-liter engine to help boost power, though. Further, this application is a different beast compared with the 2.0-liter engine found in the GLA35. Rather, AMG engineers turned the engine 180 degrees on its vertical axis to put the turbocharger and exhaust manifold at the rear of the engine compartment. The move gave engineers the chance to create a more aerodynamic front and improved air ducts to construct shorter pathways.

Lots of engineering going on here. A lot. Seriously.


The brand says, overall, power delivery is a lot like a naturally aspirated engine. I think a touch of turbo lag is charming, but to each their own.

Moving through more of the internals, we land at a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, which works with AMG's all-wheel drive system and Torque Control. With the latter, the AWD system can power between the front and rear wheels as needed, but also between the left and right rear wheels. Expect even better traction as Torque Control works to eliminate slippage, especially on the track.

But, let's be real. Few GLA45 SUVs will spend the majority of their life on the track, and the brand likely took that into consideration when developing its latest AMG suspension. Comfort, the division says, is improved over the outgoing model, but when the driver pushes it, low body roll and overall refinement make it a tamer beast to control. A special front-axle geometry for the McPherson strut design will also reduce torque steer.

Rounding things out, yes, of course the GLA45 has high-performance brakes (four-piston front calipers, one-piston floating calipers at the rear). The performance SUV also gets a special steering rack with a variable ratio depending on the drive program selected. It should further help make the GLA45 more comfortable, but also more dynamic when called upon. For those who really want to dial things up, all of the electronic stability control settings are customizable via an AMG Dynamics function.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45

Don't deny it; it looks like a lifted hatchback still.


Yeah, the GLA45 is a little engineering marvel, which brings us to the design. What can I say? If you dig the latest GLA, the GLA45 races things up appropriately. If there's a downfall, it's simply the fact Mercedes tried to make the GLA, in general, look more like an SUV than a tall hatchback.

There are plenty of AMG design cues, such as a specific grille and 19-inch AMG wheels. Out back, twin exhaust pipes accentuate a wider rear bumper as well, while a functioning diffuser helps boost this little brute's aerodynamic profile. Inside, MB-Tex (that's the brand's language for "vinyl") covers the interior with typical AMG touches and the latest MBUX infotainment system handles all of the driver's technology needs. There are splashes of carbon, and color-contrast stitching to break the black upholstery up. Leather is optional, as are AMG Sport seats, a performance steering wheel and a host of other color combinations.

Mercedes-AMG didn't price its latest pocket rocket yet, but expect an increase over the last model's $50,600 starting price. We'll see it hit dealers in late 2020.

Now playing: Watch this: 2020 Mercedes-AMG CLA35 is ready to carve some corners

Originally published on Feb. 25.