Our spies also had the opportunity to take a quick look inside the cabin of the AMG GLA 45 where the sporty crossover had nearly all of the final bits. We can notice the red emergency button you won’t find on the production version, but everything else seems to be ready, right down to the Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and those body-hugging front seats with integrated headrests basically borrowed from the A45.
Underneath the hood you’ll find the world’s most powerful mass-production four-cylinder engine rated at 416 horsepower and 500 Newton-meters (369 pound-feet) of torque in the GLA 45 S. There will also be a base version with 382 hp and 480 Nm (354 lb-ft), while below it will sit the warm GLA 35 with 302 hp and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm). All of them will have all-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, but the “45” models will have eight gears instead of seven and a drift mode. The latter will be standard on the S model and optional on the non-S variant.
Top speed is a more-than-adequate 155 mph unless you pay for the AMG Dynamic Plus package, in which case that figure rises to 167. More important, the option group adds a limited-slip front differential, adaptive suspension, and a Race driving mode for even more back-road or track-day heroics.
In the Hungarian countryside, the GLA 45 S eagerly hoovers up sinewy back roads. Sharp turn-in and a dearth of body roll impart the confidence to carry big speed through bends, with the snug seats holding me in place and the paddle shifter is responding instantly to every press. Yes, this is a fast car. Perhaps the only letdown is the utter lack of feedback from the steering wheel. Speed and capability, though, abounds.
In urban driving, the GLA 45 S has all the vices of any other small car that’s been injected with performance steroids. The suspension never stops bouncing, the exhaust drones, and the engine’s lazy turbo spool-up can make low-speed acceleration a game of guess-and-check.
That’s not a bad thing. Here’s a fast, evocative toy that plays by its own rules but can still be civilized enough to role play as your daily driver. It’s the perfect indoctrination into the cult of AMG. If it’s your first car from the brand, you’ll no doubt be hooked and want more. Which is, of course, the entire goal.