This week we are looking at a small, but powerful, performance SUV, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 45. This is the smallest SUV in the Benz lineup, but I have to say it doesn’t feel that way when you drive it.
Since it is an AMG model, you know it’s going to be a performer, and it does not disappoint. In fact, the engineers at AMG have produced the most powerful 4-cylinder engine ever. All AMG engines are hand-built and signed by the engineer who put it together.
I like the looks of this SUV. The 20” AMG wheels are terrific, I like the lines, the unique AMG grill, the rear spoiler, and the dual exhaust all look great.
Under the hood there sits a hand-built 2-liter inline 4-cylinder turbo that puts out an astounding 382-horses and 354-pound feet of torque. It is mated to an 8-speed DCT automatic with large shift paddles. My review vehicle is all-wheel drive, which Mercedes calls 4MATIC. Top speed is 155 miles per hour and it’ll get you to 60 miles per hour in just over 4 seconds.
Inside is a very nice cabin, with leather bolstered power and heated seats. As you sit, you see two 10.25” screens, that look like one huge one. The gauge cluster is heavily configurable and quite easy to read.
Center dash is the touchscreen that operates the sound system, navigation, Bluetooth, houses the rear camera, the settings, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is also where you access the AMG Performance page, which is really cool and gives you a ton of information.
When you hit the pushbutton start, just under that is the switch to turn off the start/stop system, making it easy to start the vehicle and immediately turn the stupid start/stop off all in one quick motion.
The center console has a touchpad if you prefer that to the touchscreen. There are also shortcut buttons there to change the screen. You get adjustable cup holders, a power outlet, and USB ports. I also find the air conditioning vents to be quite attractive and useful.
There is a switch to change the drive modes on the console. You can choose from slippery, individual, comfort, sport, and sport plus, which is of course, my favorite.
Mercedes gives you a nice mix of carbon fiber and stitching on the door panels and across the dash.
Back seat room surprised me, as did overall head and legroom. Back seat occupants get A/C vents, power outlets and USB ports.
Cargo area after opening the power liftgate is good. There is 18.4 cubic feet of cargo, and 51 cubic feet with the back seats folded down.
It’s a Mercedes, so it’s loaded with a ton of standard features, but just a few options.
On the options, you get an AMG flat-bottom steering wheel, panoramic moon roof and the navigation. Everything else you see here comes standard.
Ride and Drive
On the plus side, this GLA 45 handles crisply, is super stable in turns, the transmission shifts hard and fast in Sport Plus mode, and the exhaust sound is great. Acceleration is incredibly strong as you would imagine with close to 400-horses in a small SUV.
Fuel economy is 20 city and 27 highway, and total MSRP is $62,150.
So, my assessment is this SUV is a great mix of luxury and heart-pounding performance. You can drive it like a small SUV, but you know that at any time, if you want to slam the accelerator, incredible power will be yours to have.
- What I Liked Most: The pure, raw power of the engine.
- What I would change: Air conditioned front seats should be standard.
- Fuel Economy: 20 city/27 highway 23 overall.
- Odometer reading when tested: 6,500 miles.
- Weight: 3,847 pounds.
- Spare Tire: None.
- Length-Width-Height: 174.6” long/79.5” wide/62.5” high.
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 13.2 gallons with the fuel filler on the driver’s side.
- Official Color: Digital White Metallic.
- Towing Capacity: Unavailable at this time.
- 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLA 45 in a few words: A beast of an SUV but an incredible daily driver.
- Warranty: 4-year/50,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, with roadside assistance.
- Final Assembly Location: Rastatt, Germany.
- Manufacturer's website:
- Up Next: 2022 Infiniti QX60 Autograph