Mercedes confirms AMG GLA 45 S facelift

Fresh look and new tech for mad 421hp SUV

By Matt Bird / Thursday, 12 October 2023 / Loading comments

As cars continue to homogenise, so the crazy outliers look all the more appealing. Nobody needs a car like the Mercedes-AMG GLA 45 S; those after a fast SUV will be served just fine by the ‘35, and those wanting a hot hatch experience can have the slightly more affordable, lighter A-Class. Mercedes surely can’t sell many of them at all. But how many of our favourites cars are the curios and oddballs? Like so many of those AMG cult classics, the GLA 45 didn’t have to be made. But a few of us will be glad that is has, because it’s so unnecessary. Give it five years and you’ll be clamouring for such silliness back…

The GLA SUV has now joined the A-Class hatch and CLA-Class saloon siblings in a mild facelift. For this car that means a new front end design, redesigned AMG logo, LED lights all round and body coloured arch extensions (where they were black before). In those arches are 21-inch wheels. So don’t expect a cushy ride. The interior will be familiar to those who’ve seen an updated compact Mercedes of late, with the new, more modern design of AMG steering wheel, an MBUX infotainment system said to be even more powerful, and extra USB-C charging.

What hasn’t changed is the powertrain, but that’s just fine as the M139 2.0-litre will go down in history as one of the greatest four-cylinder turbos ever made. Maybe even four-pots in their entirety. That it’s possible to buy a brand-new, warrantied Mercedes-Benz with 210hp per litre remains staggering, never more so than when stuffed in a small SUV. Here the 421hp and 369lb ft mean 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds and a limited top speed of 168mph. Which is also ridiculous. The eight-speed dual-clutch is standard, and 4Matic+ with AMG Torque Control can divvy up torque at the rear axle for more athletic cornering than just the regular front-to-back split. 

There isn’t a UK price confirmed for the new GLA yet, though it’d be a surprise to find it land here at any less than £60k – especially if it’s only offered in Plus specification. Perhaps surprisingly, there are quite a few secondhand ones available on PH for those content with the old look and interior. This 100-mile example is basically brand new, but how about this for something different? A non-Plus, in red, on the smaller wheels, and not a bit of tinted glass in sight. Less equipment means less money, too, at £40k. What a way to go about terrorising hot hatches.

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