Detailed: Mercedes GLA 45 AMGComment on this story
Detailed: Mercedes GLA 45 AMG
This, sports lovers, is the real deal; this is neither an AMG-Line cosmetic package nor a luxury upgrade. Affalterbach's adrenalin junkies have given Mercedes-Benz' stylish new compact SUV a serious kick up the tailpipe, including very specifically, the world's most powerful series-production four-cylinder engine and sports-orientated 4Motion all-wheel drive.
Do we have your attention now?
The GLA 45 AMG, due to premier at the Detroit motor show next week, has almost all the attitude of the concept we saw at Los Angeles, in a slightly less outrageous set-up and, with 265kW at 6000rpm and 450Nm all the way from 2250 to 5000 revs, it has the moxie to back up that attitude.
Think Taser for octane molecules
Mercedes quotes a 0-100km/h sprint in 4.8 seconds and an electronically sanitised terminal velocity of 250km/h but, thanks to piezo-electronic multi-squirt (up to five per cycle!) direct fuel-injection straight into the heart of the combustion chamber and multi-spark ignition it's also claiming 7.55 litres per 100km, 175 g/km of CO2 and compliance, not only with Euro 6 standards, but also with Euro 6 second stage, due to come into effect in 2017.
The GLA 45, says the maker, is the third model in AMG's four-cylinder turbopetrol line-up, together with the A45 and CLA 45 AM G - aimed at trend-orientated younger buyers - but also extends Affalterbach's high-performance SUV model range to five as it slots in alongside the ML63, GL63 G63 and G65 AMG bruisers.
THE IRON FIST
The twin-scroll turbocharger runs at 1.8 bar, helped by a big-bore free-flow exhaust system with an automatic exhaust flap modulated by the engine's ECU to match engine revs and load conditions - and also to deliver a 'distinctive' engine note under hard acceleration.
There's also a (barely street-legal) optional performance system with an even more authoritative vocal signature.
All that sound and fury is relayed via AMG's trademark seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, in this case with three shift modes - Manual, Sport and Controlled Efficiency - a double-declutch downshift to make you think you're Mario Andretti and a Race Start function to deal with the GTI Joes of the world at the Stoplight Grand Prix.
Under optimum conditions power is supplied to the front wheels, but there is also a second power take-off, via a two-piece prop-shaft, to an electro-hydraulically controlled multi-plate clutch built into the rear differential, that detects slip at the front axle and reacts by directing as much as 50 percent of the power to the rear axle.
THE ELECTRONIC CO-DRIVER
In typical AMG style the electronic stability programme has three stages - On, Sport and Off - as well as standard-issue curve dynamic assist, that gently brakes the inside rear wheel to cancel out understeer.
The standard GLA suspension has also been tightened up with stiffer steering knuckles and bushings on the front MacPherson struts and a revised four-link rear set-up axle, with specially-tuned coilovers and stiffer anti-roll bars all round. An even less forgiving AMG performance suspension kit, with firmer spring and damper tuning, is available to order.
And finally, as any wife will tell you, power is nothing without control; the AMG's performance is controlled by high-performance AMG callipers (standard finish is grey, red an option) clamping vented and cross-drilled discs all round, inside special 19” twin-five-spoked alloy rims shod with 235/45 radials.
Ten-spoked 20” rims in either grey or matte back with polished flanges, wearing 235/40's are available as extra-cost options.
THE VELVET GLOVE
The GLA 45 introduces new, distinctive AMG badging nestled in the grille, while the front apron, its splitter and the twin-blade grille are finished in matte grey, with racing-style black flics above the large cooling-air intakes at the side.
There's matte grey in the side-sill inserts, the rear diffuser and the aluminium roof rails.
Inside, the AMG sports seats with integral head restraints are trimmed in a mix of Artico synthetic leather and microfibre fabric with red contrast stitching and red seatbelts, and the three-spoke nappa leather multifunction sports steering wheel with perforated leather in the grip area and paddle shift with paddle shifters also has red contrast top-stitching.
A two-tube instrument cluster with central colour display greets the driver with the AMG start-up screen when the driver's door is opened.
The GLA 45 AMG microsite lets you interactively experience the new AMG beetle-crusher, see comments, video clips and pictures from fans of the AMG Twitter and Facebook pages and post their own comments on the site's 'social wall'.
And you can see it for real when the GLA 45 AMG is launched in South Africa in November 2014; pricing, of course, will depend on what our yo-yo currency is doing at the time.