The 381bhp GLA45 AMG heads up facelifted crossover range. Spot the difference
This is it: the upcoming, and updated, Mercedes-Benz GLA. And it’s a bit tricky to see what’s new, really. Mercedes points to new alloy wheels, modified bumpers and a new colour – the enticing ‘Canyon Beige’ – as key changes, as well as new LEDs to replace the old bi-xenon headlights.
The LEDs are actually a lovely bit of kit, using 60 per cent less energy than xenon headlights and 70 per cent less than the old-school halogen setup. They also last forever – Mercedes says “changing a bulb is no longer necessary over the entire lifetime of the car” – and they’re lighter to boot. We approve. They’ll most likely be an optional extra on most models, but it’s one we’d tick, just to never have the hassle of replacing bulbs. But we digress.
The body rework does more than give the GLA the subtlest refresh in recent memory – it also makes it more aerodynamic, thanks to revisions to the front splitter, rear spoiler and rear diffuser.
It’s subtle, yes, but Mercedes is predictably loath to give its golden goose too much of a makeover – see, since its launch in 2013, the GLA been a bit of a darling of the British public. In fact, old Blighty is one of the GLA’s biggest markets, along with China, Germany and the USA. And it seems new car buyers can’t get enough of upmarket SUVs; Mercedes’ range now comprises the GLA, GLC, GLC Coupe, GLE, GLE Coupe, GLS and G. Yeesh.
For the upcoming GLA, Mercedes says there’ll be “an extended range of engines”, which should mean different states of tune for the four-cylinder petrols and diesels you might already be familiar with, including a 184bhp GLA 220 petrol, plugging the infinitesimal gap between the 156bhp GLA 200 and 211bhp GLA 250.
Our European cousins (does Brexit make them twice removed?) will get an especially small and cheap 180d, but it’s highly unlikely the base-spec model will come to British roads. Mercedes thinks kicking off with a front-drive GLA 200 petrol and GLA 200d diesel will be more than enough for (comparative) penny pinchers, with the rest of the range employing Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system.
UK models will come with standard off-road comfort suspension, a tacit acknowledgement of the hit-and-miss quality of the British road network. That means a lift of 30mm above the current standard model as well, which is something the AMG-spec models won’t enjoy.
What AMG customers will enjoy – apart from a stonking 381bhp turbo four-cylinder – is a locking front differential and a dedicated ‘Race’ setting, which is exactly what a mini-SUV buyer is looking for. We’d take the locking diff, mind you, but that’s likely because we’re hardwired to always choose a limited-slip diff if it’s available.
AMG’s seven-speed automatic remains, but it’s been tweaked for better acceleration, with shorter ratios from gears three to seven. That means the GLA 45 will do 0-100kph in 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 269kph – if you pick the AMG Driver’s Package (read: delimiter).
A special ‘Yellow Night Edition’ – which, predictably, looks like a regular Night Edition, with yellow on it – gets a bit of a laundry list of upgrades: the Night package, the Light and Sight package, the Aerodynamic package, Dynamic package and ‘Dinamica’ package. And here we were, completely unaware that Dr Seuss worked for AMG…