Mercedes had a brilliant idea and found a niche between the GLA 250 4Matic (224 hp) and the fabulous GLA 45 AMG (421 hp). It’s called the Mercedes- AMG GLA 35, develops 306 HP and is more exciting but not as brutal as the former GLA 45 AMG. First impressions.
Text: Răzvan Măgureanu; Photo: Andrei Toboșaru, Mercedes, Răzvan Măgureanu
Mercedes is increasingly looking at young customers and for the new compact range offers two AMG models instead of one of the last generation. Thus, in addition to 45 AMG, the new GLA compact SUV also has a “basic” AMG version called 35 AMG that develops 306 HP. It is interesting to note that the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is the only compact 35 AMG model in which the new turbo engine is mated to the new 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, as the A 35 hatch/sedan and CLA/CLA Shooting Brake the same engine is combined with 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
The turbo engine that hides under the hood of the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is a new construction based on the new M260 engine from the A-Class. To eliminate turbo-lag from the former A 45 AMG, the housing of the twin-scroll turbocharger is divided into two parallel ducts. Together with two separate exhaust ducts in the exhaust manifold, this makes it possible to channel the exhaust gases separately on the turbine wheel.
The cylinders are divided into two cylinder groups and each is directed onto a turbine flow of the twin-scroll turbine. The cylinder groups are defined based on the ignition sequence. This greatly reduces turbo lag and the engine response is virtually instantaneous thanks to the Camtronic variable distribution.
GLA 35 AMG has five drive mode programs because the Slippery mode has appeared in addition to Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. Individual mode allows separate adjustment of engine response (Moderate, Sport, Dynamic), transmission (manual or automatic), AMG Ride Control suspension (Comfort, Sport, Sport+) but also appears AMG Dynamics which adjusts the response of the ESP system and intervenes by lightly braking the wheel on the inside of the turn reducing understeer. You can choose the Basic setting assimilated to the Slippery and Comfort or Advanced modes, activated in the Sport and Sport Plus modes, but they can also be activated manually.
We start in Comfort mode without using the Race Start function which is standard. The power is felt as soon as we exceed 2,500 rpm, and at 3,000 rpm the maximum torque of 400 Nm is already available. On the Manual mode, the gears change smoothly from the paddles behind the steering wheel. The engine sounds decent and we notice the soundproofing in clear progress. On the Comfort mode, the GLA 35 AMG runs smoothly and comfortably for a hot-hatch worn with 20-inch alloy wheels and low-profile tires (optional on the test car, standard 19-inch), being much more enjoyable in everyday use than the former GLA 45, especially since you have even more space and better visibility.
However, the fact that the four-link real axle is connected rigidly with the body via a subframe somewhat affects comfort on bumby roads and the car feels stiff but remains among the most comfortable among current hot hatches SUVs.
We want to see the other face of the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 and press Sport + mode. We downshift and the engine unleashes with a crescendo sound. It’s a real concert in do major that delights the ear and there’s nothing artificial in the car’s speakers because the GLA 35 AMG exhaust system has a flaps system just like the AMG GT that opens and shortens the exhaust route on the Sport +.
On Sport mode, the suspension hardens and in this case the small ground clearance for almost like a hothatch.
However, we choose to make some specific adjustments typical for a sport car on the Individual mode with the engine on the Dynamic, the gearbox on the Manual (there is, however, a protection of overspeed), the suspension on the Sport and AMG Dynamics on the Advanced. The first impression is that the GLA 35 understeers a little. The weight distribution is more balanced, the 4Matic system allows the electromechanical variation of the torque from 100% on the front to 50/50%, and the McPherson front axle has an interesting innovation, the lower arm being placed under the wheel axle. All this only reduces understeer and the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is driven more agile than the former A 45.
The steering is extremely spontaneous and incisive and contributes to maximum driving pleasure. The 2-liter turbo engine pushes vigorously from 2,500 rpm and has a very good linearity for a supercharged turbo engine at a fairly high pressure.
And on board it’s a real show because the graphics are different from a normal GLA. Thus, there are three display modes for the on-board indicators – Classic, Sport and Supersport – which can be changed at any time from the touch buttons on the left of the steering wheel while those on the right operate the MBUX multimedia system.
Optionally, the GLA 35 AMG also offers AMG Track Pace which displays the map and sectors of different racetracks and records 80 different parameters of the track. I will disappoint you but you can’t call AMG Track Pace if you are not on the circuit because the system is related to navigation and knows when you are on a race track or not. Compared to the old GLA 45 AMG, GLA 35 AMG is cheaper by over 10,000 euros but the big advantage is the more exciting way it is driven.
Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 is a more efficient combination: the body of the new GLA that offers more space and better visibility, the new 2-liter turbo engine with an almost eliminated turbo lag and a less understeer road holding that offers more pleasure and agility. All at a lower price by over 10,000 euros than the former GLA 45 AMG.
Very good agility| Powerful and refined turbo engine| Space and visibility in progress| Multimedia system adapted to the AMG specific| Attractive design||
Relatively rigid suspension even on Comfort
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|8 gears, automatic
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|Price (euro with VAT)