2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 First Drive Review: AMG All the Things?

AMG all of the issues! Mercedes-Benz product planners have been within the grip of AMG mania for the perfect a part of a decade now. As soon as, the storied AMG badge was solely utilized to a handful of suitably enhanced Mercedes autos. Now it appears nearly something with the three-pointed star is a candidate for an AMG makeover: extra horsepower, extra noise, stiffer suspension, larger wheels and tires, all served with a soupçon of menace and carbon fiber. It’s confirmed a extremely profitable system, with premium-priced AMG fashions now accounting for 12 % of all U.S. Mercedes gross sales. However the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 proves that purchasing the badge doesn’t essentially imply you’re shopping for a greater Benz.

The GLA 35 is, after all, being pitched as the recent model of the redesigned 2021 GLA 250 and 250 4Matic crossover that’s simply gone on sale within the U.S. Though it’s 0.Three inch shorter, the second-generation GLA is a noticeably larger automobile than its predecessor in each different dimension. It’s 1.2 inches wider total, the wheelbase has been prolonged 1.1 inches, the entrance observe is 1.Four inches wider, and the rear observe 1.Eight inches wider. However the important thing change is top: The 2021 GLA is 3.6 inches taller. The primary-generation GLA appeared like a rally racer, with excessive floor clearance and a low roofline. This new one lumbers into view like several common SUV.

The GLA 250 shares its platform with the coupelike CLA 250, so the transformation from common Benz to rip-snorting AMG follows the identical system and makes use of a lot of the identical {hardware} because the CLA 35 launched within the U.S. earlier this 12 months.

It begins below the hood. As a substitute of the common GLA’s 221-hp, 258-lb-ft 2.0-liter turbo four-banger, the GLA 35 will get the AMG-massaged 302-hp, 295-lb-ft model that drives by means of an AMG Speedshift eight-speed dual-clutch transmission and the AMG Efficiency 4Matic variable all-wheel-drive system. AMG claims the GLA 35 will nip to 60 mph from a standstill in 5.Zero seconds, 1.6 seconds faster than the common GLA 4Matic, and is 25 mph quicker total, able to an electronically restricted 155 mph.

Chassis upgrades embody AMG springs and shocks. Aluminum decrease management arms are used on the strut suspension up entrance to scale back unsprung mass, and the geometry has been revised to scale back torque steer. The four-link rear axle is rigidly linked to the physique through a rear axle provider. The optionally available AMG adaptive damping system allows the driving force to decide on between three suspension management modes.

AMG-specific entrance steering knuckles function radially bolted brake calipers—the bolts holding the calipers are perpendicular to the axle relatively than parallel, lowering the shearing pressure on the bolts and thus torsional flex, bettering brake really feel. The entrance brakes comprise 13.8-inch rotors and four-piston calipers; on the rear are 13.0-inch rotors and single-piston calipers. The discs are internally ventilated to higher dissipate warmth and forestall fade, and the silver-painted calipers function black AMG lettering.

The electrical energy steering has a variable-ratio rack and presents the selection of Consolation or Sport steering settings. Help is lowered at excessive speeds to enhance stability, and it repeatedly will increase at decrease speeds to scale back effort, no matter mode.

All of it appears good on paper. On the highway, nevertheless, it’s a unique story.

First issues first: That little engine is terrific, a punchy, pocket-sized dynamo of a factor that pulls easily from close to idle and actually will get its recreation on from about 2,400 rpm as an oceanic swell of turbo enhance washes over the facility and torque curves. Earlier than you recognize it, the shift graphic within the HUD is flicking from yellow to pink, and, should you’re in guide mode, you’re tugging on the right-hand paddle to pick the subsequent gear. However that’s about pretty much as good because the GLA 35 will get.

The ratios within the eight-speed AMG Speedshift dual-clutch transmission really feel too extensively spaced. It’s not a lot of an issue on guide upshifts, the place a gearchange typically drops engine speeds again into the meat of the torque curve—all of that 295 lb-ft is on the market from 3,000 to 4,000 rpm—however the transmission typically gained’t allow you to manually return down by means of the gears as shortly as you’d like on nook entry. It makes the GLA 35 really feel two steps behind the tango on a twisty highway.

There’s loads of stopping energy within the brakes—and also you want it, as a result of the GLA 35 arrives at corners in a rush should you’re urgent on. The AMG steering, each in Consolation and Sport mode, is as numb and lifeless as a online game, although. Oh, it’s correct, however you actually don’t know what’s happening the place the rubber meets the highway, and that makes it tough to precisely assess how quickly you possibly can go to the throttle within the nook. Get on the fuel a fraction of a second too early, and the torquey punch from the engine, mixed with the traction from the rear axle, ends in jaw-clenching understeer.

Including to the overall sense of discombobulation is a experience that’s a relentless carnival of jittery motion on something however the billiard desk–clean roads you discover solely in Germany. The AMG suspension is just too stiff, and the tires—our tester was fitted with the optionally available 21-inch wheels shod with 235/35 Continental Sport Contact 6s—really feel like they’re manufactured from stable rubber. Each tiny imperfection within the highway floor is immediately transmitted into movement—vertical, aspect to aspect, diagonal—all amplified by the truth that you’re sitting increased within the GLA than you’ll be in a daily automobile. And that’s with the suspension set in Consolation mode, not the even stiffer Sport and Sport+.

On real-world roads the GLA chassis feels disappointingly inert regardless of the AMG fairy mud sprinkled over it. There’s an aluminum plate bolted below the engine and two extra diagonal braces on the entrance of the underbody which can be designed to extend the torsional stiffness on the entrance of the automobile and enhance the precision of turn-in response, but it surely doesn’t assist a lot when the wheels are skittering over each lump and bump within the highway. That rigidly mounted rear axle most likely helps ship good lateral g numbers on a take a look at observe. But it surely additionally delivers noise and influence harshness on peculiar suburban streets, notably at low speeds.

Visually, the GLA 35 ticks all of the AMG packing containers. It will get the toothy vertical bar grille impressed by the 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL racer as a part of a brand new, angrily grimacing entrance fascia. There’s a small spoiler over the rear window and the compulsory bazooka-caliber exhausts on both aspect of a pretend rear diffuser. Commonplace wheels are 19-inch dual-five-spoke alloys. In the event you merely will need to have a GLA 35, keep on with the inventory wheel/tire mixture relatively than choosing the 21s. Your kidneys and spleen will thanks.

The GLA 35’s inside is dominated by the wide-screen MBUX show that features a digital sprint and an infotainment interface, a glittery array of vents styled to appear like jet engine intakes, the flat-bottomed AMG steering wheel, and sport entrance seats. The digital sprint might be configured in three AMG show types, Traditional, Sport, and Supersport, the latter that includes a central spherical tach and extra data introduced within the type of bars to the left and proper. Along with the same old Consolation, Sport, Sport+, and Particular person drive modes, the GLA 35 has a Slippery mode optimized for low-grip, icy highway circumstances; it reduces engine energy and flattens the torque curve, with the transmission delivering earlier upshifts and smoother gear modifications.

The common Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 4Matic, priced from $38,250, is a reliable sufficient premium compact crossover. Though Mercedes-Benz USA hasn’t launched pricing for the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35, which is predicted to reach in sellers earlier than the tip of the 12 months, the value distinction between the CLA 250 4Matic and the CLA 35 four-door coupes recommend it is going to sticker at about $46,500. It’s exhausting to see the worth. Certain, the engine’s enjoyable. And also you get the AMG badge and grille. However the experience is horrible—an extended commute on most any U.S. city freeway on this factor could be depressing—and the chassis and steering are nowhere close to participating sufficient to compensate.

2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4Matic SUV Specs
BASE PRICE $50,000 (MT est)
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/302-hp/295-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 8-speed twin-clutch auto
CURB WEIGHT 3,700 lb (MT est)
WHEELBASE 107.Four in
L x W x H 174.6 x 72.Zero x 62.5 in
0-60 MPH 4.Eight sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON 24/31/27 mpg (MT est)
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY 140/109 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.73 lb/mile
ON SALE Winter 2020


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