Thirsty Merc

by Petrol Mum

There is currently a changing of the guard at Mercedes-AMG when it comes to the performance engines available across their model range with the iconic V8 engine making way for the new 4-cylinder, turbocharged engine, for many AMG vehicles.

My first taste of this pocket rocket engine has come in the guise of the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4Matic+, which is the smallest SUV in the Mercedes-Benz range. The 45 S pumps 310kW and 500Nm out of the 2.0 litre, turbocharged, 4-cylinder petrol powered engine. This is paired with the AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8-Speed transmission and for slick upshifts there is a shift light bar across the top of the driver’s dash prompts you when to select the next cog via the solid feeling paddle shifters that are mounted on the steering wheel. But downshifts only occur when the computer allows them to when you are in manual gearbox mode.

All four wheels are driven thanks to the 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system so there is no loss of traction under hard application of the throttle. The AMG launch control is one of the easiest systems you will ever use. Simply engage Sport+ or Race mode, hold your left foot on the brake to engage the system, plant your right foot and release the brake and blast down the road to 100km/h time in 4.3 seconds. The AMG Driver’s Package also increases the top speed to 265 km/h, should you have race track at your disposal.

Speaking of which, the Mercedes-AMG Australia drive days are back for 2021 and are available via invite only through your dealership once you have purchased your AMG. The AMG Performance-Training costs $2,600 and is your entry to the AMG Driving Academy. You will spend the day learning the intricacies of these iconic race tracks and guided by one of our experienced AMG driving instructors, behind the wheel of a number of specially prepared AMG vehicles.

If your need for speed has not been fully exhausted then your next step after you have completed the AMG Performance-Training is AMG Advanced-Training. It gives you the opportunity to hone your track skills with higher speeds, more laps and a focus on technique. These sessions cost $3,000 and are run at Phillip Island, Victoria and Sydney Motor Sport Park.

Back to the GLA AMG 45 S though and the drive modes available include Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Race and Individual. For an AMG the ride was acceptable even in Sport+ mode, being not too harsh at all. When Individual mode is selected the Drive, Transmission, Dynamics, Suspension and Exhaust system can be customised. What caught my eye here was the language used to describe the customisation options available such as ‘Pro’, ‘Master’, and ‘Powerful’ because these are somewhat domineering words.   

The engine soundtrack of my GLA was enhanced by the optional AMG Performance Sound ($690), but even with this system there was not a great deal of excitement from the exhaust. When I was aggressively chasing the 7,000rpm red line up and down the gearbox there were some pops from the exhaust, but at higher revs I felt the exhaust note droned a bit. At lower revs the exhaust was drowned out by road noise and there was excessive noise from stones flicking up under the floor when driving on a gravel surface.

I was surprised though, even with my level of enthusiasm on the accelerator, by the amount of 98 RON I used while I was driving the AMG GLA 45 S. The official combined fuel consumption figure is 9.6L/100km and for my week I used 13.4L/100km. This isn’t much less than the 14.1L/100km I used in the V8 powered Mercedes-AMG C63S Coupé when I drove it with equal vigour.

My AMG GLA 45 S had an interior to match the punchiness of the engine thanks to the AMG High Performance Seat Package ($3,290). Both the driver’s and passenger seat have power adjustment for height, for the front and rear of the seat, plus recline and forward/back with three memory positions. The front seats also have a manual front seat extender and they are heated.

I like the look and feel of the DINAMICA microfibre wrapped steering wheel with contrasting yellow topstitching and a 12-o’clock marker in yellow, but this material does show signs of wear over time. There is a lot happening on the steering wheel, but once you get used to it, you will find it easy to navigate. There are thumb pads to control the central infotainment screen from the left-hand side and the configuration of the driver’s dash on the right-hand side. Like other AMGs, the wheel does have the annoying selector knobs at the bottom of the wheel, which duplicate the suspension, gearbox and drive mode controls that are also available on the centre console.

The voice control button on the steering wheel has an androgynous-looking silhouette and using the voice control it is easy to set a destination or making a call. My GLA had the optional Innovation Package ($1,490) and this includes the Interior Assistant so you can use the ‘Hey Mercedes’ function for controlling things like the temperature of the cabin or to find a local supermarket or fuel station. The Innovation package also includes Augmented Video and Head-Up Display.

From a design perspective in the cabin I also liked the contrasting stitching on the seats and across the door trim and the brushed aluminum that extends from the doors across the dash. But the gloss black highlights on the dash and centre console do collect dust badly and show your finger marks, so a microfibre cloth should be kept in the AMG to keep these areas clean.  

The AMG GLA 45 S comes standard with a Burmester surround sound system, which has 12 premium speakers and surround sound with a total output of 590W. The media sources include FM/DAB, AM, Bluetooth, USB or wired Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. There are two USB-C ports in the deep storage cubby under the arm rest and at the front of the centre console under the roller cover there are two cup holders and wireless charging for compatible devices, one USB-C port and one 12V outlet.

The 10.25″ central touchscreen can also be controlled by using the touchpad on the centre console or using the thumb pad on the steering wheel. There is an extensive range of options that can be accessed via the infotainment system including Energizing Comfort that uses light, sound and seat movements to refresh or vitalise the front passengers. It is also worth mentioning that the GLA like the A Class has one of the best ambient lighting systems currently available.

But by far the most fun feature is AMG Track Pace, which has even more racetracks to choose utilise, from Silverstone to Suzuka. There are no Australian race tracks listed, but this is not an issue because you can add a track to the system by mapping it while driving around the track or by importing tracks. There is a drag race view, multiple telemetry options to record, download to your phone and analyse later and the race track info is even displayed in the head-up display. It should be noted that the Track Pace app should only be used on a race track.

The rear seats offer ample head and leg room for two adults and enough room for two child seats using the two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points. There is no central fold down arm rest, but you do get a large drink bottle storage cubby in the rear doors. There are two central rear air vents with open/close and direction control only and under these there is one USB-C port. My children liked that they had a separate rear sunroof, but this did not open.

The boot comes standard with gesture open and close or you can use the key fob, button under the boot lid or a button in the cabin to open and close the boot lid. The boot features four tie down points, two hooks, a light, a 12V outlet and nets behind the wheel arches for securing items. There is a removable mat that covers the boot floor and under the floor there is a tyre repair lit. The boot is large enough for a stroller and the weekly shop and the rear seats have a 40:20:40 split folding mechanism for transporting longer items.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA range does not have an ANCAP safety rating, however all GLAs come with nine airbags fitted including the front, pelvis side and window bags for driver and front passenger, side bags for rear occupants and knee bag for driver.

The driver safety aids fitted to the GLA AMG 45 S are extensive with Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC including Cross-Traffic Assist (adaptive cruise control), Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active brake assist, Active blind spot assist and Route-based speed adaptation all coming as standard. The Mercedes-Benz suite of safety aids are still some of the best I have experienced on any car I have driven.

The 360o view rear camera 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.

All new Mercedes Benz passenger vehicles sold in Australia come with a five year/unlimited kilometre warranty that includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The service intervals for AMG 45 S variants are one year or 20,000km 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 AMG GLA 45 S this costs $3,000, saving $750 over the standard capped price servicing cost or if you choose to cover your new vehicle for the first five services this would cost $4,300.

The Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S 4Matic+ is a rapid little SUV and it offers the advantage over its AMG A 45 S cousin of having a mature looking exterior and being a bit higher off the ground so it is easier to get in and out of. Prices start at $107,035 excluding dealer delivery and on-road costs and as tested this GLA was $116,985 excluding dealer delivery and on-roads. Visit your preferred Mercedes-AMG retailer or the only dedicated AMG dealership in Australia, AMG Sydney to find out more.

AMG Track PaceFuel economy
It’s a grown-up version of the AMG A 45 SNot a very exciting exhaust note
The interior design and ambient lightingNo ANCAP Safety rating

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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