The raunchiest Mercedes-AMG GLA-Class trim we get is the AMG GLA 45 4MATIC+, making 382 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque from a turbocharged 2.0-liter, that output run to all four corners through an eight-speed dual-clutch. Some international markets get the magic letter S inserted into the name, once the signifier of end-all-be-all thrust before E Performance became the ne plus ultra. The Germans have introduced the GLA 45 S 4MATIC+ for those global buyers, making the usual 416 hp and 369 lb-ft and introducing a suite of small changes already visited upon other products in AMG’s ranges this year.
It starts with better brand identification, the emblem with the three-pointed star at the front of the GLA 45’s hood replaced by an emblem bearing AMG’s crest. On the edges, all-LED lights throughout the vehicle show first in the headlights; instead of the DRLs framing the reworked beams, there’s a long DRL slash at the top of the unit and a short slash in the middle. Below, the intakes are redrawn as discrete units at the edges of the A-frame lower grille instead of extensions of that grille. Along the sides, the wheel arch extensions will be painted in the body color instead of forming a black hem around the hot hatch. Twenty-inch wheels come standard, but rims ranging from 19 to 21 inches can be had in three new finishes to fill the holes, hiding the standard red brake calipers. In back, taillights show off LED shapes akin to stylized spear tips replacing the hollow polygons of yore.
Inside, the latest AMG Performance steering wheel bolts to the column in every model. Behind it, updated MBUX software and multimedia pages show off new AMG-specific screens and more functions, AMG declining to go into details there. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are included, as is another USB-C port. A wider menu of colors for the standard upholstery covers, the Artico artificial leather, and the full-leather seat covers sits occupants on hues like Bahia Brown, Sage Gray and Black, or Red Pepper and Black. Fiends for color coordination can spec the new open-pore lime wood for trim pieces to go with Bahia Brown.�
As Mercedes-Benz works through its product overhaul, the safest bet is to assume there won’t be another GLA like the one we have now. The Concept CLA shown at IAA Munich will turn into a production sedan, a wagon, and two SUVs thought to be a next-gen CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA, and GLB sitting on the MMA platform and running on all-electric power. With these products expected to start rolling out to dealerships in the next couple of years, the ultimate ICE GLA is pointing its new LEDs at the sunset of its life.