I remember the days when AMGs were rare in India. Forget getting to drive one, even spotting one was a victory. Of late, though, slapping the hallowed three letters on more and more cars has become a trend at Mercedes-Benz. Even with the purists crying, and there are things to cry about, the success of the new AMGs with smaller engines and in smaller cars is undoubtable. I, for one, am glad that there are more of them now.
Let me start by making something clear, the little 2.0-litre engine is terrific. It is a punchy pocket-rocket that is always raring to go and pulls smoothly from almost near idle. It truly gets into its groove from a little over 2000 rpm, but the short journey till there is, well, really short. The GLA AMG 35 gets the M260 engine, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit which makes 306 bhp and 40.8 kgm. While it is impressive, let it be known this engine is not made by AMG, but is what one could call ‘AMGenhanced’. Bummer on paper, but not when you are in the driving seat. The throttle response is good and the 8-speed gearbox is always ready to join the party.
In addition to the usual Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual drive modes, the GLA AMG 35 has a Slippery mode optimized for low-grip road conditions, just in case an owner is adventurous enough. Sport+ is the mode to be in to enjoy the car the most, while Comfort is enough for your daily errands. As long as you make allowances for this being a small SUV, and not a sportscar, you will not be disappointed.
Even though the engine may not be made by AMG, visually, the GLA AMG 35 ticks all the AMG boxes. It gets the toothy vertical-bar grille, and a redesigned front apron and splitter, when compared to the regular GLA. The rear gets similar AMG touches with the apron, diffuser and a small spoiler. Silver AMG brake callipers, striking AMG alloys and a Turbo 4Matic badge complete the AMG makeover of the GLA.
The GLA 35’s interior is dominated by the wide-screen MBUX display, like all new Mercs, which includes a digital dash and an infotainment interface, shiny vents which look like jet-engine intakes, the flat-bottomed AMG steering wheel, sport front seats, red stitching and red seat belts. The digital dash can be configured in three AMG display styles; Classic, Sport, and Supersport, the latter featuring a central round tach and additional information presented in the form of bars to the left and right. The two screens work through the touchpads on the steering, as in all Mercedes models. The GLA 35 naturally gets all the creature comforts one gets in the regular GLA – Apple Car Play & Android Auto, wireless charging, a Burmester sound system, panoramic sunroof, seven airbags, a host of safety features and an in-built SIM with Mercedes ME Connect app.
If you are in the market for a small luxury SUV, the regular GLA 220d could be a better fit. But if you want something that turns into a hot hatch at the click of a button, the GLA AMG 35 definitely deserves a drive before you decide. It may not have a big engine, but it is fast, it is fun, and, as long as you don’t pop the hood open, it is an AMG.
Mercedes-AMG GLA 35
Displacement: 1991cc, I4, turbo-petrol
Max power: 306 bhp@5800 rpm
Max torque: 40.78 kgm@3000-4000 rpm
F/R: 235/45 R19 / 235/45 R19
L/W/H (mm): 4436/2020/1588
Wheelbase: 2729 mm
Ground clearance: 183 mm
Kerb weight: 1667 kg
Fuel capacity: 56 litres
PRICE: Rs` 58.80 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)