Mercedes will be bringing its newest pocket rocket, the GLA 45 AMG to the Geneva Motor Show next week. The 45 will not only be the most powerful car in the new GLA compact crossover range, but a quick scan of rival shows that it's the most powerful compact crossover, full stop.
Two power outputs available
That's thanks to AMG's new 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which comes in a choice of outputs - 387hp for the standard model, and the full, whopping 421hp for the GLA 45 AMG S model.
"The second generation of our very successful compact sports model is now complete. The GLA portfolio, in the form of the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 and GLA 45 S, now also includes our innovative four-cylinder turbo engine, so setting the benchmark in this segment. In addition, the new GLA 45 is not only significantly more dynamic, but also more practical in everyday use than its predecessor, thereby ensuring its appeal to a dynamic, lifestyle-oriented target group", says Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.
Needless to say, to keep all that grunt under control (and there's as much as 500Nm of torque to go with it) there's standard four-wheel drive, with active torque vectoring between the rear wheels. Go for the S model and you'll hit 100km/h from standstill in just 4.3 seconds (4.4 for the standard version), and on to a top speed, again in the S model, of 270km/h (250km/h for the standard GLA 45).
AMG also reckons that by massaging the point in the rev range where peak torque occurs, it's been able to make this powerhouse 2.0 turbo feel more like one of its classical naturally-aspirated engines.
Different structure and engine layout
It's not just a GLA 35 AMG with the wick turned up, either. The engine sits the other way around in the engine bay, for a start, with the turbo and exhaust manifold facing back towards the windscreen. AMG says that's been done to improve the aerodynamic performance of the front-end bodywork. There's also a new twin-scroll turbo, and dual-stage fuel injection too. To keep everything cool, there are also two water pumps, one driven by a belt, the other electrically powered.
All that power is fired at all four wheels through a new 8G dual-clutch eight-speed transmission, with paddle shifts for manual mode. There is, almost needless to say, a 'Race-Start' mode for the 'box which gives you maximum getaway acceleration.
How the power is divided between the front and rear axles, and the rear wheels, is controlled by a clutch-based system that takes readings of lateral and longitudinal acceleration and the steering angle, but also the difference in rotational speed between the individual wheels, the gear selection and the accelerator position.
Suspension is by McPherson struts at the front, and a four-link axle at the rear, with AMG Ride Control adaptive dampers all-round. The brakes, thankfully with all that power on tap, are massive 350mm front discs and 330mm rears, with four-piston monobloc calipers. S models get even bigger 360mm discs, with six-piston calipers, painted red. The steering rack is also upgraded from that of the standard GLA, with variable ratio assistance and more rigid mounting points.
There are six modes for the AMG Dynamic Select system - "Slippery", "Comfort", "Sport", "Sport+", "Individual" and "RACE" (that last one being optional on the basic model). On top of that, you can also have the AMG Dynamics modes, which run through Basic, Advanced, Pro or Master and which allows you to tweak the car's settings to your own personal skill/fear levels. The system now included inside wheel braking on a tight corner to bring the nose of the GLA in for a tighter line.
To cope with all of that, the body structure has been beefed up compared to the standard GLA, with a 'shearing panel' under the engine that stiffens the chassis up.
On the outside, you get the distinctive AMG slatted grille, plus high-performance LED headlights, 19-inch alloy wheels (20s and 21s are available optionally), a front splitter, and a big rear wing.
Inside, there's the full-width MBUX digital dashboard, with AMG-specific displays and live connectivity features, and a combination of man-made leather and Dinamica fake suede for the bucket seats. Red seatbelts, too, plus some AMG bright yellow highlights scattered about.
That MBUX system also includes a race-car style data logger, should you ever wish to bring your family-friendly crossover to a trackday. Oh, and there's an active engine sound enhancer, which AMG says runs the gamut from 'harmonious and discreet' to 'emotive and sporty.'