Increased ride height, more weight and compact SUV styling make the GLA a less desirable alternative to its A-class sibling for most, but Mercedes-AMG has applied its range-topping 45 treatment for 2020, putting in in line with Ingolstadt’s RSQ3.
Powered by the same 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder as in the current A45, the standard GLA45 produces 381bhp and 350lb ft of torque, with the GLA45 S (the UK’s sole offering) boasting 415bhp at 6750rpm, and 368lb ft of torque – that’s 21bhp more than the Audi, matching the output of the A45 hatch.
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As you might expect from a car with the world’s most powerful production four-cylinder engine, performance is brisk. The range-topping S covers the 0-62mph sprint in 4.3sec (a tenth sooner than the standard GLA45), with top speed coming at 167mph (155mph for the non-S) – that puts it two-tenths ahead of the RSQ3, though the Audi goes on to a higher 174mph top speed.
Setting it apart from the rest of the GLA range is an AMG-specific grille with Panamericana-esque vertical slats, flared wheelarches, larger intakes, 20-inch wheels (19-inch on the non-S) and a roof spoiler, all as standard. A valve-controlled exhaust system, and four-pot 350mm front, single-piston 330mm rear brakes also come at no cost. Twenty-one-inch wheels are available at an additional cost, and through the AMG Dynamic Plus package, buyers can opt for an uprated, 360mm six-piston braking system.
Power is sent to the 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, where it’s distributed to the wheel that needs traction most for optimum performance.
Inside, Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system and all-new interior design can be found in the range-topping GLA, offering an array of screens, ambient lighting, carbonfibre-look trim and plenty of Alcantara-esque Dinamica microfibre as standard. AMG Performance seats can also be had as an option.
Order books will open in April, with first deliveries beginning in summer 2020. UK pricing is yet to be announced, but expect it to start at around the £55,000 mark.