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New 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 Arrives with Refined Appearance, Still Hits 60 mph in 4.3 Seconds

Like the standard GLA, the high-performance version comes with more SUV flavor.

Eleonor SeguraWriterManufacturerPhotographer

For the 2021 model year, the second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLA moved away from its more "youthful" hatchback figure to deliver a more mature SUV-like shape. Now, the new 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 high-performance model further refines the look without going too far over the "racer" line in terms of styling.

Like its predecessor, the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 will produce a 0-60-mph time of 4.3 seconds, according to Mercedes. However, this time its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four packs 382 horsepower, a modest boost from the previous 375; torque comes in at 354 lb-ft, an increase of 4 lb-ft.  A newly available eight-speed dual-clutch transmission is intended to provide better response throughout a range of speeds, thanks to its new gear ratios.

The most striking difference between the 2021 model and the previous model, though, comes in the interior where the refreshed Mercedes-AMG GLA45 offers a sophisticated cabin. The analog instrument cluster is now fully digital and a whopping 10.25-inches wide; it joins forces with the digital cluster to form a massive screen across the dashboard. Other key differences are a sportier design, slimmer climate control, beefed-up steering wheel, and the absence of buttons on the center stack. Overall, the cabin has a stronger premium appearance and conveys luxury due in part to the reduction of "cheap" plastics.

Standard equipment highlights include an AMG sport suspension, 19-inch wheels, a variable all-wheel-drive system with torque control, and MBUX infotainment system with AMG-specific display styles. The three available display styles for the digital cluster are Classic, Sport, and Supersport, the latter being the most interesting. Optional add-ons consist of 21-inch wheels, advanced performance seats, an aerodynamics package, and a ride-control sport suspension.

On the exterior, an improved and reinforced body shell reduces longitudinal and lateral torsional movement, Mercedes says. As a result, there is less rolling and pitching motion while braking, cornering, and load changes. The GLA45 now exhibits a grille with vertical slats specific to AMG performance, a long hood, enlarged air intakes, and redesigned taillights. It is also worth noting that the old curving lines on the body's exterior are reduced, giving the renewed crossover a boxier look compared to the first-gen model.

If there is anything that the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is synonymous with, that would be the loud thunder it can create via its quad tailpipes, though the soundtrack depends upon the selected drive mode.

Indeed, the menu offers six options: Race, Sport+, Sport, Comfort, Slippery, and Individual.

The updated GLA45 also incorporates a robust amount of tech and driver-aid features. Those conveniences include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, active speed-limit assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic alert, active steering assist, MBUX Augmented Reality, and the "Hey Mercedes" digital assistant.

Pricing for the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA45 is yet to be determined, but expect to see the grown-up and refined GLA45 on U.S. dealer floors in late 2020. It will be joined by the less-expensive but similarly new 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLA35, powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four making 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, good for a 0-60-mph time of 5.0 seconds.