THE 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4MATIC+ is the ultimate soccer mum sleeper. But it’s more than that, this is high-tech sophistication in a compact crossover, with its most powerful factory 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine hiding under the hood.
Sharing the same power plant as the A 45 S 4MATIC+ hatch and CLA 45 S 4MATIC+ coupe, the turbocharged powerplant produces 310kW of get up and go, and 500Nm of arse-hauling torque.
It accelerates from zero to 100km/h in just 4.3 seconds, and it does it all while sounding damn good, with plenty of snap, crackle and pop. It looks like it’s moving fast even when it isn’t, thanks to its pure German styling.
Design features such as the front grille, headlights and tail lights, and twin tailpipes all add character to the overall sporting aesthetic. The front and rear high-performance red-painted brake callipers with internally ventilated and perforated discs will stop on a dime.
Not only that, they look great, as does the black AMG detailing hidden behind the 20-inch five twin-spoke alloy wheels. Inside, our test vehicle was fitted with two-tone titanium grey pearl and black leather upholstery.
Brushed aluminium trim featured throughout, although the optional carbon-fibre look or black open-pore wood grain would have been our first choice. The fitted trim reflected a little too much sun glare on occasion, which can be distracting.
Lavish sports seats keep you comfortable across all driving conditions, and the intricate stitching on them is exquisite. AMG Performance seats are optionally available though, should you want maximum sportiness.
The technology in the AMG GLA 45 S 4MATIC+ is class-leading, with a range of functions working together to provide an ultra-impressive complete system. Features such as driving assistance systems, the head-up display and 360-degree parking are superb.
The augmented reality graphical navigation system, and comfort controls are also a standout. The central 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment display is situated neatly alongside the high definition instrument cluster.
It has support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the screen setup makes it feel like a single entity, and you there are a multitude of ways to interact with it, including touch, voice command, touch sensitive control pads on the steering wheel, and a trackpad.
The latter is an interesting choice by Mercedes-Benz. We found it to be an innovative design, but not as user friendly while driving as fixed buttons and dials, where muscle memory becomes intuitive to know where to scroll or turn the dial to.
Despite a week of driving around in the GLA 45 S, we still found it to be not completely intuitive. There are steering wheel controls as well, including two tiny trackpads, one on each side, and three engine performance buttons on the lower side of the centre arm.
In addition, there are two paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. It’s a very crowded space and could be more challenging for less technological drivers to navigate. The wireless phone charging dock doesn’t fit larger phones either.
That said, we really enjoyed the cabin space, with the addition of all the customisable lighting combinations creating an inviting ambience. Our road testing included taking family members out for dinner in Leichardt, in Sydney.
All of our vehicle occupants expressed how comfortable and plush the seating was, and how much room there was in the back seat. There are ISOFIX points and baby seat tethers too, and split-folding rear seats for practicality.
What’s obvious though is it doesn’t feel like a family car, as much as it feels like a somewhat masculine sports compact SUV. The AMG badge on the GLA 45 S 4MATIC+ only further enhances that feeling. That’s not a bad thing.
On the road, you will be treated to buttery smooth, ultra-fast gear changes through the 8G-DCT transmission, Mercedes-AMG all-wheel drive, torque control and a suspension setup designed to provide a fantastic driving experience.
Active brake assist works exceptionally well, and we had the opportunity to test it first hand. We were travelling two cars behind a truck when a vehicle in front of a truck stopped suddenly to turn left, causing the semi to have to brake suddenly.
When the vehicle behind the truck came to a sudden stop, our test vehicle reacted to this situation, alerting the driver to brake and activating the autonomous emergency braking system. The combination allowed the driver to easily handle such a situation.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4MATIC+ is available in seven colours, including Iridium Silver Metallic, Polar White, Night Black, Cosmos Black Metallic, Digital White Metallic, Denim Blue Metallic and Mountain Grey Metallic.
It comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, and is priced from $118,399 drive away. A range of additional packages and options are available.
Our 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4MATIC+ was provided by Mercedes-Benz Australia. To find out more, contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer.