It’s been no secret that a high-performance AMG version of the yet-to-be-released Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class was coming. Following months of prototype spy shots and the reveal of a thinly-veiled concept version last year, the all-new 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG is finally here, having made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

What’s immediately noticeable upon first seeing the photos is just how low the vehicle is compared to the regular GLA. That’s partially due to the new aero components applied to the body but more specifically the AMG-specific suspension, which drops the height and firms up the ride. Stiffer knuckles and springs are added up front while at the rear is an all-new four-link setup. For hardcore fans, AMG also offers an even firmer tune for the GLA45 AMG’s suspension.

The power unit is a familiar one: the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder already found in the A45 AMG sold overseas and the CLA45 AMG, Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2014. With its rating of 355 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, the engine is the most powerful four-banger in production.

It’s mated to an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and helps deliver 0-60 mph acceleration of just 4.8 seconds using the transmission’s RACE START launch control function. That’s 0.3 of a second of the pace of the CLA45 AMG. Top speed is a governed 155 mph.

Key to the vehicle’s performance is its all-wheel-drive system. The setup is different to Mercedes’ regular all-wheel-drive system in that it is lighter and evenly splits torque 50:50 between the front and rear wheels. In normal driving situations, full torque goes to the front wheels only, helping reduce fuel consumption.

As is the case with most AMGs, the electronic stability program (ESP) offers up three modes: ESP ON, SPORT Handling Mode and ESP OFF. The system also includes a brake-operated torque vectoring system called ESP Curve Dynamic, where imperceptible braking interventions on the rear inside wheel during cornering helps create a defined yaw moment about the vertical axis and aids handling. These systems work in conjunction with the car’s AMG speed-sensitive electronic sports steering system.

In standard specification the GLA45 AMG runs on 19-inch alloy wheels with a titanium gray finish. These are shod with 235/45 size tires. The AMG Performance Studio personalization department, however, offers up some tasty 20-inch wheels that come in matte black and are fitted with 235/40 size tires. Ventilated steel brake discs are fitted as standard.

Also helping to dress up the exterior is an aero pack consisting of a large front splitter, chunky side sills and a rear spoiler. Buyers can also opt for a carbon package which adds carbon fiber side mirror housings and more carbon on the aero pieces. Another cool option are red brake calipers with AMG lettering.

Inside, there are body-hugging sports seats lined in Mercedes’ MB-Tex trim as well as the AMG DRIVE UNIT, which allows you to adjust many of the vehicle settings. The sports steering wheel is lined in Nappa leather and behind this sits shift paddles for the transmission. On opening the door, the driver is greeted by the AMG startup screen, brushed aluminum trim on the dash and stainless-steel AMG door sills. Optional extras include Alcantara or full leather trim, carbon fiber accents, and performance seats.

Sales of the 2015 GLA-Class, including this GLA45 AMG variant, commence in the third quarter of 2014. For more from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, click here.


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