The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is entering the fray with a new and powerful engine. It’s so powerful, in fact, that it’s regarded as the world’s most powerful turbocharged four-cylinder engine in series production. This engine is called the M139 and is exclusively powering the current crop of new and incoming ‘45’ series AMG vehicles including the A 45, CLA 45, GLB 45, and GLA 45.
We previously thought the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is the crème’ of the crop in the GLA family. Powered by an AMG-enhanced version of the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine in the GLA 250, the GLA 35 has 302-horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque – more than enough to declare it the hottest GLA to arrive in a while.
As it turns out, we were wrong.
“The second generation of our very successful compact sports model is now complete,” said Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. “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, leisure-oriented target group.”
It’s all about the power
Mind you, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is not the most powerful GLA in the lineup. That distinction belongs to the GLA 45 S, which we reckon won’t be arriving in North America. Although the U.S. market will only receive the non-S version of the GLA 45, it still has plenty of power to deliver some serious driving fun.
As mentioned earlier, the new GLA 45 is powered by Mercedes-Benz’s all-new and hand-built M139 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Equipped with a twin-scroll turbocharger, two-stage fuel injection, and a sophisticated engine cooling system, the GLA 45 is pumping out 382-horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque.
The motor is connected to a trick AMG SPEEDSHIFT 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with a RACE-START function. Yes, since we’re talking about an AMG model, the GLA 45 allows maximum acceleration from a standstill complete with a double-declutching function when shifting to lower gears. Power is routed to all four wheels courtesy of an AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system with AMG Torque Control.
Essentially, AMG Torque Control varies the distribution of power between the left and right rear wheels courtesy. With a new rear axle differential and a set of electronically controlled multi-disc clutches, the GLA 45 offers consistent and relentless traction on any type of road surface.
The Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is a quick little bugger
Equipped with the mighty M139 engine, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is frighteningly quick off the line. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 4.3-seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph. On the other hand, the GLA 35 is no slouch, either. Mercedes claims a 0 to 60 mph time of 5.0-seconds with the same 155 mph top speed.
The primary reason behind the GLA 45’s massive acceleration is the engine torque. Using what Mercedes-AMG wizards are referring to as ‘torque shaping’, the GLA 45’s engine produces peak torque at 4,750 to 5,500 rpm. This allows the turbocharged motor to exhibit the power delivery of a naturally-aspirated, non-turbocharged engine.
It also has adaptive suspension and massive brakes
Our biggest gripe with the outgoing GLA was the ride quality. It was fine on the highway, but city driving is a different story. But in the new GLA 45, it seems we won’t be complaining about a stiff and jarring ride even in sporty AMG guise.
The GLA 45 is equipped with optimized suspension components and adaptive dampers with AMG Ride Control. This allows the driver to choose between three suspension modes from comfort, sporty, to ‘very sporty’ as Mercedes claims. The system automatically varies the damping forces at each wheel to deliver the perfect compromise between superior comfort and sporty handling.
And since the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 is packing serious muscle under the hood, it needs a robust set of anchors to restore order when things get too crazy. The GLA 45 has 13.8 x 1.3-inch front discs with 4-piston fixed calipers and 13.0 x 0.9-inch rear discs with single-piston floating calipers. Meanwhile, selecting the AMG Dynamic Plus package gives you even larger brakes with 6-piston calipers and larger 14-inch disks.
It has the looks to match
The newest second-generation GLA is wider than the outgoing model. It also has a longer wheelbase. In short, the new GLA is now a proper crossover, but the GLA 45 brings it up a notch in terms of styling.
The GLA 45 has muscular shoulders and flared wheel arches. The front is adorned by an AMG-specific radiator grille and standard LED headlights. If the wider stance is not enough to intimidate, the powerdomes on the GLA 45’s long hood will make you think twice about messing with this car.
Equipped with 19-inch alloy wheels (larger 21-inch rollers are optional), a wider rear bumper with a diffuser, a roof spoiler, and a pair of large oval tailpipes with adjustable sound, the new Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 means serious business.
You can expect the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 to arrive at U.S. dealerships later this year together with the GLA 35. Meanwhile, the GLA 250 is scheduled to arrive in the summer of 2020. Pricing for all Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class models will be announced closer to the expected launch date.