All share the same powertrain based around a stove hot, 265kW/450Nm, 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder turbo engine driving all four wheels through a 4matic all-wheel drive system and seven-speed dual clutch transmission. And you thought Mini was good at leveraging one idea...
The GLA45 AMG starting at $79,430 completes the local lineup based on Benz's new small car platform.
There is plenty of choice in the entry level category for Benz in Australia ranging right up to the 45 AMG models.
They've been able to squeeze not only sensational performance from the high-tech direct injection engine but also low fuel consumption and correspondingly low emissions.
Despite being able to crack into the 4.0 second 0-100km/h bracket, the GLA 45 can sip at 7.6L/100km - on 98RON though. Not surprisingly, it scores a Euro 6 rating for emissions due to come into force in 2017.
The GLA 45 stands out on the road from every angle. It looks lean and mean - ready to pounce and the aero kit underlines the point.
Same applies inside with particular mention of the dash with multiple chrome ring air vents contributing to a cockpit style.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
The engine/transmission is hand built by AMG and no doubt, plenty of attention is given to the cars during manufacture. It features clever stuff like a twin scroll turbo running at up to 1.8 bar (around 24psi) of boost, forged crankshaft and pistons, alternator management and engine stop/start.
The injection system runs at extremely high pressure for further efficiency gains.
Best of all is the sound it makes in Sport mode on up changes - guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and annoy the neighbours late at night. Bang!
Aiding and abetting all this fun is the sharp shifting 7-DCT transmission with multi-modes and race start.
Along with the engine, AMG had a hand in all other dynamic aspects of the GLA 45 including brakes, suspension, steering, chassis and aerodynamics. Even the 20-inch forged alloy wheels are AMG spec.
The flavour inside is AMG too, complete with multi-fascia material with carbon fibre and red highlights contrasting with the leather upholstery on sports seats with large side bolsters.
Infotainment technology is the latest in Mercedes inventory, while features such as the audio and Bluetooth are premium. A large read-out screen provides information and control of numerous in-car functions.
The GLA is, as expected, a super thing to drive even though it's an SUV. On the road it feels like a hatchback and actually behaves like one in all driving conditions except that you have the facility to actually take it into some moderately rough stuff like gravel roads, snow and ice - with relative confidence.
It has astonishing acceleration and sticks to the road like a sportscar. You could even 'track day' it successfully.
The sound is striking and you can't get enough of that snap, crackle and pop exhaust in Sport mode.
All dynamic functions are engaging with particular emphasis on how the GLA 45 steers and brakes. Having a 50:50 drive split helps matters as do the large section tyres.
The electric power steering is well weighted, precise and direct. The brakes are awesome.
It weighs in at 1510kg which quickly climbs to about 1700 with fuel and a driver. Getting up there, but the engine has plenty of punch to take care of it.
Interior features are to a luxury car level with excellent audio, climate control, paddle shift, comfy seats and a good measure of practicality from the wagon style body.