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Driven: Long queue for Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG

Rapid transit: The Mercedes-AMG GLA45 offers extra practicality over the A45 hatch but without the hefty premium attached to its CLA45 sedan sibling.

Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG blasts into local showrooms, wait list out to mid-2015

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Mercedes-Benz logo23 Oct 2014

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

INITIAL shipments of the Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG have arrived in Australia, with 100 of the 300 already sold expected to reach homes by the end of this year and the waiting list out to next May or June for orders placed now.

Once supply for the $79,430 (plus on-road costs) hot-hatch on stilts frees up over the coming months, the GLA45 is expected to be at least as popular in Australia as the hot-selling A45 AMG uber-hatch – which in the absence of the C63 sedan and wagon has become the best-selling AMG in this country – by the end of 2015.

For those who have seen the A45 AMG and its long, low, coupe-styled CLA45 AMG sedan sibling come to market without ticking all the right boxes, the GLA45 AMG might be the model that tempts them to reach for the chequebook.

Especially as those wanting the hand-built AMG four-cylinder turbo powerhaus wrapped in a more practical package than the A45 can have the GLA45 AMG for a relatively unsubstantial $4350 premium, whereas they may have baulked at the extra $12,000 asked for the CLA45.

Like both those cars, the GLA45 channels its barely believable four-cylinder outputs of 265kW and 450Nm through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, sending drive primarily to the front wheels to save fuel and distributing up to 50 per cent to the rear axle should the need arise, which is probably often given the power and torque available.

The sprint from rest to 100km/h is dispatched in 4.8 seconds on the way to an electronically governed 250km/h top speed – figures that would have defined this small SUV as a bona-fide supercar in the not too distant past.

Where those supercars of old – and most of the present – cannot match the GLA45 are in the bang up-to-date environmental credentials on offer.

An official combined fuel consumption rating of 7.6 litres per 100 kilometres, 177 grams per kilometre of CO2 output and EU6 emissions compliance put a lot of much slower machinery to shame.

Whether the fuel figure is achievable in real life, where the temptation to dip into those considerable power reserves is constant, is another matter. But it’s the thought that counts.

On paper the GLA45 outguns and undercuts its nearest rival, the $2560 more expensive Audi RS Q3 that launched in February, which despite having an extra cylinder and 500cc more in the engine, is 37kW and 30Nm less potent making it four tenths slower to hit 100km/h from rest. It is also 1.2L/100km thirstier.

Similarities between the GLA45 and its AMG siblings continue with the transmission’s paddle-shifters and trio of driving modes, with Manual, Sport and Controlled Efficiency on offer, the latter activating the engine’s fuel-saving idle-stop system while taming shifts and throttle inputs for more sedate progress.

The A45 and CLA45 have been praised for their braking performance and the GLA45 follows suit, with vented, cross-drilled and grooved rotors of 350mm diameter at the front and 330mm for the rear. Up front are four-piston aluminium callipers, while single-piston units take care of the tail-end.

This is one area where the Audi RS Q3 takes the bragging rights, with ITS 365mm front discs and whopper eight-piston callipers.

While there is no extra rear-row legroom over the A45 the GLA45 does offer extra headroom all round and boot capacity with the seats up is 421 litres, providing an extra 80L over the A45 (and 65L more than the Audi), while moving the rear backrest to a 90-degree angle liberates some additional space without going for the full seats-down 1235L.

As expected for a range-topper, the GLA45 is lavishly specified, with dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, rear privacy glass, automated parking, heated front seats with electric adjustment and memory, a panoramic glass sunroof, automatic high-beam and powered tailgate.

The 7.0-inch central display includes sat-nav with traffic updates, Bluetooth, auxiliary input and internet connectivity, voice control a 10GB digital jukebox, DAB+ digital radio and a single-disc DVD player with audio piped through a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system.

Making the GLA45 stand out as a performance flagship are 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels and AMG bodykit, while the interior gets an AMG instrument cluster with race-timer, Recaro sports seats upholstered in black leather with red contrast stitching to match the red seatbelts, and a smattering of AMG branding.

Like any other GLA, the 45 AMG’s safety kit comprises nine airbags, driver fatigue monitoring, blind spot monitoring, brake assist, autonomous collision mitigation, an active bonnet and hill-start assist.

Typically for an AMG, the GLA45’s electronic stability control system is more sophisticated, with standard, Sport and ‘off’ modes.

Customers who get in early enough can specify the $3990 limited-run Edition 1 package, which adds cosmetic and aerodynamic enhancements including a large rear spoiler, larger front splitter and ‘flics’ on the outer edges of the front bumper, 20-inch, 10 spoke alloys in matte black with red outer rim and hub cap, exterior graphics and interior Edition 1 badging.

Other optional extras on the GLA45 include the Edition 1’s aerodynamics package and track-tuned AMG Performance suspension, each priced at $1990. Matte black alloys (without the Edition 1’s red accents) are an extra $490 and carbon-fibre interior trim costs $990.

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