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Mercedes-Benz handed its all-new GLA compact SUV over to its AMG division, and ended up with the GLA45 AMG.
Unlike its bigger siblings, the GLA45 AMG uses a small four-cylinder engine, but a turbo and direct injection, and some expert tuning, bring it up to 355 horsepower.
The AMG badge on the engine bears the inscription of the engine builder.
The front grille conforms with AMG style.
Flics on each front fender channel air away from the wheel well.
Red-painted calipers accent the Jupiter Red body color.
A front-wheel-drive platform, the GLA45 AMG comes with all-wheel-drive standard.
The rear wing includes vanes on the ends for aero stability.
Sport seats provide more comfort than the typical hot hatch.
The GLA45 AMG can be had with Mercedes-Benz's latest cabin electronics.
Like a proper AMG car, the drive selector is on the console rather than a stalk.
Paddle shifters control the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The GLA45 AMG cuts a clean line down Laguna Seca's famous corkscrew.
We used the CLS63 AMG as a baseline for what a proper AMG car should feel like.
Launching into Laguna Seca's main straight, full throttle and fifth gear gets you to 100 mph by turn 1.
The GLA45 AMG can carry a lot of speed through turn 10.
Not as powerful as the V-8 and V-12 AMG models, you can floor the GLA45 AMG on every straight at Laguna Seca.
With its compact SUV body style, the GLA45 AMG is fun on the track but can also be used as a daily driver and grocery-getter.
Heading through the Andretti hairpin at turn 2, the GLA45 AMG leans a little.
Leading out of turn 6, the GLA45 AMG has the horses to make the climb.
The GLA45 AMG feels more like a hot hatch in the turns than its bigger AMG siblings.
As a track-worthy car, the GLA45 deserves its AMG badge.
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