Lots of excellent cars driven and reviewed lately. Even if they are not a match for my personal budget or priorities, they almost all have true redeeming qualities for their intended target markets.
The happy train really stops on this GLA45 AMG.
This is very unusual. We have been huge Merc fans since their latest brand renaissance starting from around 2012. The cars are incredibly sexy, comfortable, fast and cool.
If any machine should epitomize the new young-and-fun Mercedes appeal, it should be this GLA45 AMG. After all, this is the brand’s smallest and most-affordable new platform, paired with an all-new turbo four-cylinder putting out a stonking 355-horsepower.
It should be good, and it is a pretty fun drive. But overall, considering its uncomfortable interior, hideous design and $30,000-too-much price, we hated this car.
WHY THE HATE?
Let’s break it down into three categories based on the scathing headline: tiny, fugly and overpriced.
The GLA45 is TINY
The GLA45 AMG is not just tiny in its overall city-friendly dimensions. It feels uncomfortably small from the drivers seat, and extremely unpleasant in the back seats with their near-vertical seatbacks and hard front seats. A combination of squashy seat base, minimal headoom means you try to squirm forward in the seat. But this only bashes your knees on the optional AMG hard-backed seats.
Visibility is also atrocious from up front. It is very Camaro-esque up there, with the windshield rake angle and giant A-pillar blocking out giant sections of the forward view.
Finally, the cargo area is fairly bite-sized as well. The hatch opening is so much larger than the luggage room inside, you wonder where the width and depth has gone.
The GLA45 is FUGLY
Fugly is a hard critique of this car, especially considering its AMG Night and AMG Aero styling packs on this test model. The dark wheels, spats on the front bumper corners and rear wing all promise a cool experience. The nose is fairly cool from the pure front angle as well, echoing the new C, E and S-Classes nicely.
But from the profile and front three-quarter angle, things fall apart for this mini AMG. The front overhang is gigantic, looking awkward and extremely downmarket. No amount of side scallops and AMG details can disguise the fact that this is a front-drive car about the size of the VW Golf.
The low roofline and non-existent rear three-quarter windows should be a sporty flourish to enforce this youthful and cool crossover’s style. But paired with the massive underbite up front, it just makes the GLA45 look ridiculously unbalanced.
In back, the optional spoiler is cool and rides high above the hatchback shape in a racy way. Cool squared-off exhaust pipes in both lower corners are fresh and cool as well.
But there are two giant red blobs to ruin things from the back. Those taillamps are some of the most hideous on any vehicle ever made. They are 3X larger than they need to be, for no apparent reason. Fug.
The GLA45 is Massively Overpriced
With a base price of $48,300, the GLA45 AMG is already a cool $15,000 above the base GLA250 price level. This makes sense considering that the GLA250 needs $10k in options to match this level of interior and exterior luxury and tech.
But things really fall to pieces when you realize how many options the GLA45 needs to actually feel premium or as tech-savvy as a Chevy Trax.
This test car came in at $68,000.
For a vehicle that is this small and compromised, you wonder what on Earth Mercedes is thinking with this car, at this price.
For comparison, the GL-Class carries a base price of $63,000.
So, in summary, the GLA45 might be fairly quick and pretty fresh overall, but it is a massive folly of a car. Who would pay so much for such a tiny, uncomfortable car? Surely not the young people Mercedes is ostensibly targeting with its new front-drivers.
The only thing GLA45 AMG really excels at, frankly, is making the GLA250 look like good value.