The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC+ starts at $54,500 in the United States and at $60,500 in Canada before freight and delivery charges.
Ultra-powerful four-cylinder engine, great handling, more accommodating cockpit.
High price, harshness around town, distracting MBUX infotainment system.
Thoroughly redesigned, the new GLA subcompact crossover has improved in many ways, in addition to offering more interior space and new technologies. There are now two hot-rod variants instead of just one, including the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC+.
Under the hood lurks a very angry little engine. Hand-built like the brand’s monstrous V8 mills, the turbocharged 2.0L four belts out 382 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, managed by an AMG dual-clutch eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive. This is the most powerful production four-cylinder in the world, says Mercedes-Benz, and its 191.9 horsepower-per-litre ratio even beats that of the 720 hp, twin-turbo 4.0L V8 in the AMG GT Black Series, which makes do with a 180.8 hp/L figure. That’s mighty impressive.
The GLA 45 can blast from 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds (0-100 km/h in 4.4) and reach a governed top speed of 155 mph or 250 km/h. The combined city/highway fuel economy rated is set at 23 mpg in the U.S., and at 10.4 L/100 km in Canada. We observed an average of 23 mpg or 10.1 L/100 km.
As for versatility, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC+’s cargo volume rises from 11.8 to 15.4 cubic feet (334 to 435 litres) with the rear seats in place, and from 42.0 to 50.5 cubic feet (1,189 to 1,430 litres) with the seatbacks folded down.
Pricing starts at $54,500 before freight and delivery charges in the United States, and at $60,500 in Canada. Another $15K to $20K in options can be tacked on as well, as was the case with our test vehicle that included almost every option package and significant standalone option. There are no direct competitors to the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 4MATIC+ in North America, but due to its price, it ends up rivalling bigger crossovers like the Porsche Macan, the BMW X3 M40i, the Audi SQ5 and even the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43.
Why You Should Buy A 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC+
- There’s nothing like it in the subcompact crossover market. The GLA 45 offers high-strung performance, sound and character that are hard to resist.
- Thanks to its sport suspension, low ground clearance and performance-focused all-wheel drivetrain, the GLA 45 serves up great handling characteristics. It just sticks to the pavement.
- The new GLA is only slightly bigger than the outgoing generation, but there’s more interior space, which eliminated the cramped feel of the old GLA.
- The MBUX infotainment system is a modern piece of machinery, and looks the part as well, with two 10.25-inch screens parked alongside one another on the GLA’s dash. Matched to a multi-color ambient lighting system and a configurable digital driver instrument panel, the GLA 45 certainly doesn’t lack sophistication.
- We like the tangible differences between the drive modes, for those times when we feel like barrelling down country roads or simply cruising down city streets or the highway.
Why You Shouldn’t Buy A 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC+
- It doesn’t come cheap. For the same price, we can get ourselves into a bigger and more refined performance luxury crossover.
- The AMG SPEEDSHIFT dual-clutch transmission bangs off rapid gear changes at wide-open throttle, but while driving at a more mundane pace, such as around town, gear changes aren’t smooth, and it can get irritating.
- The MBUX system may be slick, but it’s somewhat distracting to use while driving. It does include elaborate voice recognition, but like any other infotainment system, it’s a little slow to react and doesn’t always fully understand what we’re asking.
- While cargo space has improved compared to the previous generation, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC+ isn’t quite as accommodating as some rivals when the rear seatbacks are in place. The Jaguar E-PACE, the BMW X1 and X2 as well as the Cadillac XT4 have slightly bigger boots.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4MATIC+ is a high-performance machine that will provide plenty of grins. It’s fast, it’s loud and it’s got a mean attitude. For the price, though, and if we’re hell-bent on a subcompact, we can also take a peek at the 302-horsepower GLA 35. The latter might not be quite as speedy, but it’s thousands of dollars cheaper.