From the outside the Mountain Metallic Grey Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4MATIC looks like any other unassuming cross-over SUV, in this case a taller version of the A-Class hatchback, but underneath the demure looking exterior lies something quite special.
The beating heart of this GLA is an AMG 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engine with 225 kW (306 HP), twin-scroll turbochargers, 400 Nm of torque and an exceptional eagerness to rev. Flick the 8-speed dual-clutch transmission into manual mode and this hot hatch on stilts will rev all the way to its 6,500rpm red line. So that you get the timing right on your gear shifts there is a shift change indicator as you approach the red line that flashes on the dash. Put it all together and you will do 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds!
The upshifts on the dual-clutch transmission are super sharp, but when you pump through the downshifts using the wheel-mounted paddle shifters the computers will not let you engage the next gear down until they are ready to do so. As you are doing this there is some excitement emitted from the exhaust, but not to a level you would expect from an AMG even in the Sport+ drive program. The official combined fuel consumption for the GLA 35 is 8.0L/100km and for my week I used 11.1L/100km.
In addition to Sport+ mode you also can choose from Slippery, Comfort or Sport drive modes. I spent most of my time in Sport+ and found that the ride comfort was not too harsh for everyday driving. In addition you can also select an Individual drive mode that allows you to configure Drive, Transmission, Dynamics and Suspension to your personal preferences. One thing I did notice was there wasn’t much sound deadening under the vehicle, so some road noise did infiltrate the cabin.
The interior of the GLA AMG 35 features the very clever MBUX infotainment system that not only gives you access to standard features like sat nav and media connections, but also many other nifty attributes. The two wide screens are configurable and can be accessed through the touch pad on the centre console, the steering wheel thumb pads, by touching the screen, or using the excellent voice control system. The voice control is activated by pressing the button on the steering wheel that has an androgynous outline of a face on it; many car companies use a masculine silhouette.
This GLA cares for you while you are driving and has something called Seat Kinetics and when selected the front seats move slightly to keep you alert. This can be combined with ‘Energising Comfort’ that adds lighting and changes the temperature depending on whether you select Vitality or Refresh. The ambient lighting deserves a special mention with 64 colours to choose from and the ability to create multi-colour schemes illuminated around the air vents, doors and the dashboard.
The steering wheel is the same design as other AMGs in the current Mercedes-Benz range and its sporty looking and comfortable to hold. I am still not a fan of the two knobs on the bottom half of the steering wheel used to access drive modes and suspension settings. The front seats in the GLA I drove were the standard Lugano Leather variety, which is somewhat coarsely grained. They are power adjusted, with 4-way lumbar support, heated and have three memory positions for both the driver and passenger.
To keep your devices charged there are two USB-C ports under the arm rest and under the sliding cover at the front of the centre console there is another USB-C port, a 12V outlet and wireless charging for compatible devices. I did not like the gloss black on the centre console and dash because it attracts dust and shows finger marks.
There are two additional USB-C ports for rear seat passengers that are located in a fold-out cubby below the two central air vents in the back. The air vents have direction control only and can’t be closed off. There is enough head and leg room for two adults to fit in the rear seats and there are two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but only room for two seats on due to the width of the seat. There is no central fold down arm rest, but drink bottles can be stored in the door cubbies.
The boot is power operated and can be opened and closed either from the boot itself, the key fob or the button in the cabin. The boot is a reasonable size for a small car and would fit a stroller and a small weekly shop. If you need extra storage space the rear seats have a 40/20/40 split folding mechanism. There is a protective carpet mat to protect the boot floor with two hooks, one 12V outlet, four tie down points, an elastic strap to hold small items in place and under the boot floor is a tyre repair kit.
My GLA AMG 35 was fitted with the optional Driving Assistance Package ($1,990) that includes Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC (adaptive cruise control), Active Steering Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active brake assist and even Route-based speed adaptation. For me, this Mercedes-Benz system is one of the best I have experienced. But the Mercedes-Benz GLA range does not have an ANCAP safety rating, which would test the Lane Support Safety against a standard criteria.
The 360o view rear camera, which is part of the optional Vision Package ($1,190), has the option to select a different camera view on the left hand side of the screen with the overhead view on the right hand side. For reversing safety this is combined with 360o parking sensors. This Vision Package also includes Adaptive High Beam Assist PLUS; an intelligent system spares oncoming traffic or vehicles in front with highly precise LEDs and you do not need to keep on changing over to dipped beam.
All new Mercedes Benz passenger vehicles sold in Australia come with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty that includes 24 hour roadside assistance. It is worth noting that if you drive your AMG on a race track and your vehicle is presented with a concern and it is found that the cause of that concern is attributed to the way it was handled during the track day that particular failure might not be covered under manufacturer’s warranty.
The service intervals for GLA AMG 35 varient is one year or 25,000km whichever comes first and new car buyers can select to purchase an upfront service plan that covers the first three services for their vehicle. For the Mercedes-AMG 35 4MATIC this costs $2,150, saving $500 over the standard capped price servicing cost or if you choose to cover your new GLA AMG 35 for the first five services this would cost $4,000.
Prices for the understated Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4MATIC start at $82,935 excluding dealer delivery and on-road costs. As tested with the Mountain Grey Metallic paint ($1,490), Communications Package ($2,490), Driving Assistance Package ($1,990) and the Vision Package ($1,190) the GLA AMG 35 I drove was $90,095 excluding dealer delivery and on-roads. If you are after the hot hatch experience in a premium cross-over SUV, then visit your preferred Mercedes-AMG retailer or the only dedicated AMG dealership in Australia, AMG Sydney to drive a GLA 35 for yourself.
|The MBUX Infotainment System||The gloss black finish on the centre console and dash|
|The Driver Assist technology||Course-grained leather seats|
|It’s a ‘sleeper’ cross-over SUV||No ANCAP Safety Rating|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.