Who Cares What This Is | Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG

BY Azfar Hashim

The niche segment filler from Mercedes gets hyper this time around but the question now is, who would want one?

Photos by Azfar Hashim

The A45 was, and still is, a brilliant hatchback perpetually high on weed. The CLA45, on the other hand, is an unworldly compact sedan that gets you from calm to mental in no time.

Most importantly, both are products that makes the AMG variant more accessible to most. Previously, you need to have a bank account the size of, say, Tampines to buy one and then a separate bank account as big as Sembawang to run and maintain it.

Joel, our Managing Editor, and myself love both models to bits. They’re small, fast and loud and by Singapore standards, are more than adequate for the daily dose of fun. It’s cars like these two that makes you really ask yourself why the hell on earth do you need to fork out M money when, for half the price, it does the job equally as well.

The GLA is Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level SUV and is obviously targeted at the younger audience hence an AMG variant should be expected naturally. But the issue here is this: who would want one when the other two — A45 and CLA45 — are far more stylish. On top of that, the Golf R/S3 Sportback/M135i hyper hatch brigade already guarantee much more fun.

To be honest, probably no one; because the GLA45 has this, urmm, love it or loathe it look. No in between.

But I, for one, like it. And let me take the time to justify why.

Admittedly I like my cars unique, with the sort of exterior that doesn’t blend in with the rest of the crowd; which should give you an indication as to why I (a) embrace the Solio, (b) find the Veloster cool, (c) recently gave two thumbs up to the NX 300h. Like the trio mentioned above, the GLA45 also belongs to this list of mine.

The base GLA has the look of a bona fide SUV, but not the GLA45 especially with all that additional detailed kits. Namely those aggressive front bumper, sporty rear bumper and side skirts — gives you all the needed visual drama. Go faster bits in the form of a functional roof mounted spoiler, quad exhaust pipes and big-ass 20-inch alloys wrapped in 235/40 R-20 Continental ContiSportContact 5 ultra-high performance rubbers all come standard with the car, although I wish the test car here wasn’t fitted with that ricer sticker flanking it. That, and the red accents all over the car that seem to imitate - not at all flatter - VW’s Golf GTI.

A thoughtful touch is the roof rails, which means you can slap on your Thule racks without a problem.

Then there’s the interior. For a Mercedes-Benz, it is a little Funky Town — you get red stitches and accents all over the brilliantly sized flat-bottomed steering wheel, dashboard, seats and door panels; heck, even the seat belts are all red. Then there’s the plastic panel that was probably designed by a student from Parson’s. As a whole, it’s a similar issue as the exterior — you either like or not. Personally, it. Is. A. Little. Too. Much. Hence, I’m still on the fence.

But that said, the driving position is rather brilliant. Sitting slightly higher than both the A45 and CLA45, you do get a commanding view of the road ahead. On top of that, the driver’s seat is both supportive and surprisingly comfortable, besides hugging you tight when taking corners at speed.

The GLA45 shares the same platform as the A and CLA, so the rear legroom is rather decent than great. A pleasant surprise here is the boot space — it’s spacious and wide, and with the rear hatch opening high, it makes putting in bulky items a cinch.

Under the bonnet lies a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, and paired with AMG’s dual clutch transmission, the GLA45 AMG whips out a mind-blowing 360 bhp and 450 Nm of torque; up till today, we’re still amazed at how much power was squeezed out of that engine.

Weighing in just under 1.6-tonnes with all-wheel drive as standard, the 0 to 100 km/h timing of 4.8 seconds is indeed respectable; any faster and it would bring you straight to, well, the year 1983.

This thing is fast, fast and fast everywhere it goes and better still, you don’t have to give the accelerator a full-on stomp just to catapult you to the next junction. But if you were to work that right foot, just get ready to see yourself pushed hard into the seat as your eyeballs go backwards, see your own brains, and then go back into its original position; at the same time, enjoy the sight of lesser hatches and so-called performance sedans trying very, very hard to catch up. There’s just so much go in this car, ‘aggressive’ would be an understatement; perhaps the word aggressivestest would be more apt…

Despite standing at 1,494 mm tall, the GLA45 AMG remains dependable along a series of bends. You get a sense of surefootedness complimented by a very fast and responsive steering, high level body-control and alert brakes all at one go. Then as you toggle between gears 2, 3 and 4, you hear the exhaust pipe crackle and pop in all its glory. At the same time you laugh in amazement, just glad that the Germans actually understood the entire concept of ‘having fun’.

As a whole, the GLA45 AMG is a brilliant car due to three main reasons: First, it is fast. Second, it has so much of grip. Third, it is surprisingly practical. So, if you lead an active lifestyle and need a bloody fast and sensational car to drive, this is definitely your cup of tea.

But here is one other thing you could consider as well: the Macan S. Which is also fast, a dependable handler and bigger — and also more practical — than what the GLA45 AMG has to offer. And it’s a Porsche.

Damn it. Decisions, decisions…