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Merc's forthcoming GLA 45 is AMG’s 270km/h compact crossover!

2020-03-02 11:30

Lance Branquinho

mercedes-amg,gla 45,amg,mercedes-benz

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S. Image: Daimler Media

AMG has predictably spread the influence of its remarkable M139 engine. Measured by output-per-litre, this is the world’s most powerful internal combustion 2.0-litre engine, and it will now power Mercedes-Benz’s new GLA 45. 

The gravel-travel friendly compact AMG is an odd vehicle to justify for European markets, but it has always made a lot more sense in Africa. And especially: South Africa, where crumbling road infrastructure and the lure of exciting gravel road journeys, make it somewhat sensible. 

Although AMG’s A45 has a lower ride height and better lateral dynamics and cornering agility, the new GLA 45’s greater ground clearance makes it an exciting crossover performance car. 

Styling details total the usual fare of AMG upgrades: Panamericana grille, flared wheel arches, and oversized exhaust ends, which measure 81mm in diameter. AMG will also offer various wheel size options with the GLA 45, ranging from 19- to 21-inches. 

mercedes-amg,gla 45,amg,mercedes-benz

                        2020 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S. Image: Daimler Media

No 2.0-litre quite like it

Anchoring the appeal of AMG’s most potent compact crossover is its engine, available in two output configurations: 285- and 310kW. With South Africa’s history of strong demand for high-specification AMGs, it is unlikely that the less powerful GLA 45 will be marketed here. 

Performance is predictably epic, with the GLA 45 S claiming a 0-100kph time of 4.3 seconds and a top speed of 270km/h. What that acceleration number does not account for, is the shift-character AMG’s engineers have programmed into the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. 

Drivers of the GLA 45 S will have the option of selecting a ‘Race Start’ function, which will aggressively throttle-blip the 2litre engine during downshifts. The same mechatronics can also interrupt ignition on upshifts.

The GLA 45 S might be all-wheel-drive, but AMG has ensured that it offers a diversity of cornering attitudes. Not only can the AMG calibrated 4Matic system vary torque between the front and rear axles, but a multi-plate clutch system at the rear differential also splits drive between the individual wheels. 

mercedes-amg,gla 45,amg,mercedes-benz

                        2020 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S. Image: Daimler Media

All-wheel drive without permanent understeer

AMG’s customisation of the Mercedes-Benz 4Matic system will allow for a margin of power-oversteer, to thrill enthusiasts. 

Balancing the tremendous acceleration and speed on offer with GLA 45 S, are equally strong brakes. AMG has sourced a six-piston caliper system, for the front wheels, with massive 360mm diameter discs. 

Inside the GLA 45 S follows a new theme with AMG’s compact performance cars, blending yellow contrasting details with grey leather. A full offering of digital data logging is available too, for those who might take their GLA 45s to track days, but we’d imagine this to be a highly unlikely scenario. 

The GLA 45 S should arrive in South African before the end of 2020. It will undoubtedly be a very niche product, with most of the demand for any A-Class powered by the M139 engine, applied to the A45 super hatch. 

For those AMG customers who are looking to downsize and like the feeling of safety that a slightly elevated driving position imbues, the GLA 45 S might be the right solution. It should also be a touch more comfortable to drive on poorly surfaced roads, than AMG’s A45. 

mercedes-amg,gla 45,amg,mercedes-benz

                        2020 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S. Image: Daimler Media

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