If the Mercedes-AMG A45 S is a mega hatchback, then what do you call its high-riding sibling, the GLA 45 S? A super SUV? Not quite, because there are far more powerful ones out there.
However, in the compact class, the AMG GLA 45 S sits at the top of the food chain. It still uses the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four as its hatchback sibling, which is the most powerful of its kind to have ever been fitted to a production car.
How much power are we talking about? Try 415 HP (421 PS / 310 kW) and 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) of torque in this version that, unfortunately, is not available on this side of the pond. The non-S model, which is the one America gets, has 382 HP (387 PS / 285 kW) and 354 lb-ft (480 Nm).
Both are paired to an eight-speed DCT and 4Matic+ all-wheel drive system, but the difference in how much the lump pumps out translates into a 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) acceleration of 4.3 seconds in the S and 4.4 seconds in the standard variant. Top speed is limited to 168 mph (270 km/h) and 155 mph (250 km/h) respectively.
Aimed at those who would rather have the increased practicality offered by a crossover compared t a compact hatchback, the GLA 45 S takes on the Audi RS Q3. Its challenger packs a 395 HP (400 PS / 294 kW) and 354 lb-ft (480 Nm) 2.5-liter five-pot, which rockets it to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 4.5 sec and up to 174 mph (280 km/h), should one desire to increase the top speed from the electronically limited 155 mph (250 km/h).
Despite the flashy grille, big roof spoiler, quad exhaust pipes, and aggressively styled bumpers, the GLA 45 S is surprisingly refined on the go. It doesn’t scream its lungs out on the outside, but it does enrich the cockpit with its sound.
No, AMG hasn’t fitted it with fake engine noise, but with a microphone that records the sound produced by the engine and exhaust, amplifies it and then plays it through the speakers. Think of if it like your own concert hall on wheels, with supportive sports seats, lots of tech that’s easy to use and decent space even on the back seat.
Floor the right pedal and turn the safety systems off, and the GLA 45 S will oversteer, although keeping it sideways is going to be tricky, since it lacks the A45’s Drift mode. Drive it in a more relaxed manner and you will find a civilized car that’s a bit on the bumpy side, with responsive steering and good brakes.
These were some of Rory Reid’s observations during his time with Merc’s SUV, although for the full review you’ll have to watch the following video.