Mercedes says it’s a concept, but the GLA 45 AMG will hardly change when it goes onto production, meaning this 355bhp SUV will be tearing up pony clubs near you. Shooting at the 306bhp Audi RS Q3, this stickered-up Benz is essentially an SUV version A45 and CLA 45 AMGs – which use the same MF platform, 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and front-bias all-wheel drive set-up. The GLA’s sub-five-second 0-62mph claim is no surprise, then, as the CLA 45 does the job in a staggering 4.6sec.
Haven’t we seen this before?
Mercedes has shown a GLA Concept before, but not specifically an AMG version. Tear away the tacky livery of this showcar, and the production version beckons. You can see that its key features remain: the twin-blade front grille, chunkier front bumper and splitter, roof rails and rear-end that incorporates a tough diffuser and twin exhaust pipes on either side.
While some of the detailing of the previous show version’s been lost, it’s true to the overall look of that car, apart from one glaring change: that shouty roof-mounted spoiler. We’d bin it in favour of the more sophisticated, integrated design shown previously, and we’d take back the previous showcar’s bolder presence, too. Somehow, the overall stance of this latest version has the GLA 45 AMG Concept sitting in no-man’s land as not quite hatch, not quite SUV.
Nothing we haven’t seen before – yet still mightily impressive. That burbley, hand-built 1998cc turbo is the most powerful production car four-cylinder in the world: and it’s a cracker. It’s an engine that ‘swings the whip hard and early’, as per our experience of it in the A45 AMG. The turbocharger is a twin-scroll unit, running 1.8bar of boost, helping the GLA achieve the same 332lb ft of torque as it does in its stablemates. The meaty torque is feed through a seven-speed dual-clutch ’box with shift paddles to the all four wheels.
The all-wheel drive system can split torque up to 50% between front and rear, but feeds the fronts first. Combined with the three-stage ESP, it promises a sharp turn-in and a tendency to understeer, but stay tuned for our first drive of the GLA 45 AMG.
The obvious dynamic disadvantages of the GLA compared to its saloon and hatch counterparts are the added height and (potentially) weight: Mercedes doesn’t have an official weight claim yet, but there’s no reason for it to carry significantly more than the CLA’s 1585kg. There are no interior shots of this car to show you either, but take the A-class cabin and, erm, that’s literally it.
Mercedes hasn’t announced a UK price yet, but GLA 45 AMG will punch in the same circles as the £43k Audi RS Q3 and the CLA 45 AMG’s £42k ask when it lands in March 2014.