The performance-tuning geniuses at AMG have been tasked with hot-rodding every Mercedes model and the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA-class—and its turbocharged four-cylinder offered in either 302- or 382-hp potencies—is the brand’s latest creation. Based on the all-new 2021 GLA-class, the 302-hp GLA35 is said to deliver a zero-to-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds and boasts numerous performance upgrades to its suspension and racier styling inside and out; the hotter 382-hp GLA45 boasts a claimed 4.3-second zero-to-60-mph time. The outgoing GLA45 was a hot-hatch in SUV’s clothing and we expect that same character to carry over to both of the new generation GLA-class models.
What’s New for 2021?
Everything. The new Mercedes-AMG GLA35 and GLA45 are based on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA-class, which is a ground-up redesign.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The Mercedes-AMG GLA-class is offered in both GLA35 and GLA45 guise, and both come standard with a host of performance features that turn up the heat on the Benz-branded GLA250. All-wheel drive is standard, as is a sport-tuned suspension. That 382-hp version of the GLA’s turbo-four makes the GLA45 model is the most compelling from a performance standpoint so it’s the one we’d choose.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The AMG-massaged four-cylinder makes 302-hp in the GLA35 and Mercedes claims that’s enough to rocket the SUV to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds with the higher-powered GLA45 coming in at a claimed 4.3 seconds in the same metric. In our testing, the outgoing GLA45—which made 375-hp—did the deed in 4.0 seconds, so we think Mercedes is being conservative on its acceleration claims for the new models. The AMG engineers have imbued the new model with the same amount of athleticism as the previous generation GLA-class with a touch more ride comfort; the outgoing model offered very little suspension compliance, which resulted in a punishing ride.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
According to the EPA, the GLA35 should deliver 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway; the more powerful GLA45 is predictably thirstier and earned ratings of 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. These efficiency numbers are similar to rivals such as the BMW X2 M35i and the Mini Cooper Countryman JCW. We haven’t had a chance to test the new GLA35 of GLA45 models on our 75-mph highway fuel economy route. For what it’s worth, the X2 M35i managed an impressive 33 mpg on our 200-mile highway fuel-economy test route, and the last generation GLA45 turned in a 28-mpg result.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The 2021 GLA-class’s interior is roomier for rear-seat riders than the outgoing model, and that applies to the GLA35 as well. Interior material quality has taken a step up and the interior design closely resembles the other new Mercedes SUVs that have recently launched. Sporty-looking front seats, red stitching, red seatbelts, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and carbon-fiber interior trim all give the AMG version of the GLA-class a racier ambiance. Cargo space is slightly larger than the outgoing model and the load floor is now flush with the sill for easier loading and unloading.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Two giant 10.3-inch infotainment displays dominate the GLA-class’s dashboard; one serves as a reconfigurable gauge display, while the other handles the infotainment system. The interface is Mercedes-Benz’s new MBUX software, which offers the “Hey Mercedes” voice control system, but it also can be controlled via touchscreen or the touchpad mounted to the center console. The system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, but navigation is an optional extra.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
A suite of advanced driver-assistance features are offered as part of the Driver Assistance package, but automated emergency braking is standard. For more information about the GLA-class’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous driving mode
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance