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Ruckus Rocket

It’s been three years since the first GLA made its appearance, and whether many have fallen in love with it or dislike it for whatever reason, we believe that there are at least four reasons why the AMG version of the compact crossover is worth a look.

There is a strong chance that if you love a compact hot-hatch, you are among the thinning population of human persons that actually love driving. They’re usually cars that are tight, quick, sporty and good looking, all depending on personal taste of course. That being said, when Mercedes first launched the GLA compact crossover in 2014, it was met with confusion; is it an SAV, a hatchback or an expensive soccer-mum’s car? Many still are undecided, but what we can say is that it’s AMG version, the GLA 45 4Matic, is a sensational hot rocket to drive from the word go.

The first reason why this crossover is worth a pondering, is simply down to the fact that it houses a hooligan’s heart, in its AMG, hand-built M133 engine. It’s the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine found in the rest of the 45engine series, which means it has a purpose-tuned 375 hp, along with 475Nm of torque to dash around with. This engine provides all the thrill and efficiency you’d need in a bustling urban setting and when the weekend or long holidays arrive, this is one of the cars that can take on some B-road action quite athletically. 
While I found the M133 engine a little misplaced when we tested the CLA 45, in the GLA45, it’s bang on point. The thrust from the AMG engine gives you a scintillating drive when you go a little f latter with its very responsive throttle in ‘Sport’ or ‘Sport +’. The early torque delivery translates to a very sharp driving feel, especially for a car that’s a little bigger than it’s A-Class cousin. While the A-Class version, the A 45 would be this writer’s pick from the 45-engine series, the GLA 45 creates a close debate in terms of the engine selection.
The second reason why this compact crossover appeals to my tastes, is in how the cabin feel and space seems a lot less like a coffin, compared to the A 45. This is purely down to the fact that yours truly is a little on the bulky side, hence the appreciation for a slightly larger cabin in general. Riding on 20-inch AMG multi-spokes, there are little updates that take place in the interior of the GLA which makes a huge difference, such as a newly fitted Artico leather dashboard, a new instrument cluster look and a refreshed eight-inch screen that caps off the front end of the GLA’s cockpit. Its leather seats also echo sportiness as part of the AMG Exclusive interior package. And of course, the rest of the leather upholstery are also in AMG-styled raunchiness, something that I have to admit, has stolen my heart.
Still, if the interior isn’t much to shout about, I believe another reason why the GLA 45 tempts me, is down to the AMG add-ons onto the stock GLA body. The small exterior changes can escape the untrained eye, but it is definitely very noticeable in its more aggressive restyling. The small lifts begin in the front end of the crossover, with a re-worked apron, along with newer-looking air intake grilles. There’s also a neat looking front splitter laced with some chrome feel.
Over at the rear, one will be able to spot the new diffuser on the apron and there’s that fun-looking spoiler as well. While all these new body-styling might just seem minute, it all works functionally as the GLA has a lot more downforce to its road-going abilities. These new body bits might have a lot to do with it aiding the aerodynamics, because through the sweeping and bending sections of our usual test routes in Damansara, she performed with a lot of confidence, character and (my favourite) aggression. Which leads me to my fourth point of contention as to why this GLA is worth a look: the exhaust note.

It’s nothing like a supercar and yet quite far away from the usual whine of a turbocharged mill. I’m pretty sure it has been manually tuned to give off that sweet-spot growl and pop, but it is definitely addictive to the ear. Dip down on her short paddles, which have seven gears to shuffle in, and the acoustic galore that comes from the rear gets you all riled up and raring to go. Personally, it got me wishing for a nice empty Sepang Circuit to stretch her out on.

There are other fanciful reasons for this crossover’s appeal, besides her 4.4 seconds sprint time on the century dash. The GLA 45 AMG comes with a higher-tiered set of LED headlamps, also with an AMG Night package. They look really good with lesser light, and definitely quite menacing from a rear-view mirror’s vantage. These little accents make this facelifted model of the GLA a worthy option for hot-hatch fans… that is until the price comes into the fore: Without insurance, this facelifted Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 4Matic is priced at RM408,888. Is it worth paying almost half-a-million Ringgit for something that seems confused and lost between a hot-hatch and a compact SUV? You’re going to have to drive this one to figure out if your tastes can handle it.

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