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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG Debut

A brawny, athletic GLA is equipped with the world's most powerful four-cylinder engine.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class Research Click to hide

What's New

This year, the Detroit auto show is full of fast cars from the Mustang coupe to the Corvette Z06 to the 911 Targa. But whenever we hear anything AMG, it captures our attention almost immediately. Mercedes-Benz is making its world debut of the GLA45 AMG subcompact SUV in Detroit this month after showing a concept version a few months back. The new version stays true to the original, featuring strong body lines, a low stance, and a aggressive grille.

Perhaps the most interesting part of this debut is its deceptively powerful engine. A surprising 355 horsepower pumps out of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Not only is this impressive, but this number also makes the engine the world's most powerful four-banger. This is enough to hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.8 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. The only option on this car is a 7DCT seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, paired with all-wheel drive.

Who It's For

Mercedes-Benz is targeting younger buyers looking for better performance than many luxury crossovers provide. But just because it will draw a young crowd, the GLA45 AMG is by no means an entry-level luxury vehicle. Affluent consumers will be the first to consider this roomy yet wildly powerful four-cylinder crossover. Former AMG drivers looking for a slightly more practical vehicle may also be drawn to the GLA45 AMG.

Typically, the GLA competes squarely against the similarly-sized BMW X1, but this will not be the case with the AMG version. Instead, the GLA45 AMG will likely compete against several BMW high-performance M products. It's the first of its kind in its segment unless a BMW X1 M or Audi SQ3 (the Q3 is not yet sold in the U.S.) come out sometime.

Key Features

A number of cosmetic and performance-oriented features enhance the GLA45 AMG's appeal.
  • Three transmission modes: manual, sport, and "C" (eco-minded with stop/start technology).
  • AMG suspension provides a firmer ride.
  • Sport seats with red contrast stitching and red seat belts.
  • Optional features: Alcantara materials, leather, performance steering wheel, red brake calipers, an aero package with rear spoiler, carbon fiber package, Night package.

What We Think

We think that the GLA45 AMG will meet its intended purpose by providing plenty of thrills behind the wheel. It features a compelling design, and not too much power to lure away the eco-minded but just enough to warrant the AMG name. We think it will be a home run when it arrives in the third quarter of this year.

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