Living with the Baby AMG – Mercedes GLA35 AMG
Backstory: One of the most successful Mercedes AMG models in India, the GLA45 was killed off in 2020. However what replaced it was set to improve on all the 45’s weak points and go that one step further.
Today: Say hello to the 2021 Mercedes Benz GLA35 AMG. It is based on the H247 platform which is now shorter and less wide than before. But the wheelbase has grown, ground clearance has gone up and the interior has gotten much airier.
Being a baby AMG it is surely set to see healthy sales figures thanks to the improvements from the previous gen. But how good is it really? We got in touch with Auto Hanger, Mumbai and they threw us the keys to the GLA to live with it for a couple of days.
Visuals: Unlike the previous gen GLA, this one does not look radically different from the non AMG line models. While this does take some of the drama away, it also means that the 35AMG can blend into any parking lot without attracting attention.
The front now wears the PanAmerica grille and looks a lot more softer than before showcasing the new Mercedes Benz design language. It features air curtains located on both sides of the bumper smartly hidden. The headlights get updated too, to MultiBeam LEDs with DRLs with one of the coolest startup dances ever.
The side profile now is taller and more SUV than before but still retains some crossover elements. The 19” rims do wonders to make the baby Mercedes seem bold and add to the overall appeal positively.
This F1 inspired livery is also a personal favourite and looks smashing on the black paint with the contrasting Mercedes stars. The front fenders feature a neat Turbo 4Matic badge subtly hinting that this is not the normal GLA.
The drilled brake rotors do a good job of adding to the visual appeal as well. However red brake calipers would have helped liven up the side profile.
Most importantly however, the 35AMG gets rid of the hatchback on stilts look which the 45AMG was cursed with.
The rear of the 35AMG which you will be seeing a lot thanks to it’s quick acceleration is subtle as well. While it does feature the AMG badge, dual exhausts and a diffuser it does not scream for attention.
Also integrated is a neat body coloured spoiler, adding a bit of aggression. The 35AMG now features a powered tailgate which comes with a neatly integrated reverse camera. The camera remains hidden unless put into use allowing for a clean look. Parking sensors are also part of the package. The combo is well integrated and was a boon while parking in a tight shopping mall bay.
Inside the 35: A distant dream away from the previous gen’s button maze layout, the 35 goes minimalistic. This interior layout is the future for Mercedes Benz passenger vehicles.
The Mercedes Benz UX or MBUX system is one of the best in the business and has everything easily accessible. What’s nice is the use of physical buttons for the AC controls and drive mode selectors. The smart mixture of touch and toggle allows for the driver to be focused but also is convenient to access.
The steering wheel is simply superb with perforated leather located at the hand grips almost pushing you to go faster. Small touches like the AMG scuff plates, red seat belts, red stitching, alcantara seats make you feel special. The front seat feels a little tight for comfort at first. However spend a few hours in it driving enthusiastically and it will feel like home.
In the 35 you sit higher up, giving you a better view and more SUV-like driving position unlike the 45. What’s also brilliant is the quality inside with everything feeling not good but great to touch, something which is experienced on all Mercedes models. Small things like the power window buttons being insulated and knurled steering volume controls help strengthen the 35’s case.
The panoramic sunroof also allows for a lot more light to come in and brightens up the all black interior. Ambient lighting is also present and is customizable in 64 different color’s. A special mention of the Burmeister audio system that feels a class above when you want to mute the AMG exhaust note.
Moving to the rear seat, the 35 has improved graciously here.
The legroom, headroom and shoulder room has grown from the previous generation. The backseat had me (5’10”) comfortable with the front seat to my driving position. While under thigh support is slightly lacking, the extra knee room allows you to stretch and make up for it.
The 35 is also far easier to get in and out of in the rear seat thanks to a more squarish door which now opens more. This will allow the 35 to be purchased by families looking for a more versatile sports vehicle from Mercedes Benz as well.
The 35 gets a boot capacity of 435L ironically. The loading lip is well located and allows for easy access to the deep boot. The boot access is made easier thanks to it being electronically operated. A touch of a button and it whizzes itself shut, slower than most other electric tailgates however.
So enough sitting around, how does it drive?
Well it being an AMG makes you smile with the push of the throttle. The 35 features the M260 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with 306PS and 400NM of torque on tap. This power is delivered via a new 8 speed dual clutch automatic gearbox, an upgrade over the older 7 speed.
Unlike previous AMG cars, the 35’s engine is not handbuilt but comes off the regular production line. It is then tuned by AMG to put out the power figures it does.
The 35 does 0-100 in 5.1 secs and has been electronically limited to 250 kmph.
The GLA features variable damping suspension with associated componentry. What this translates to, is fun on any road anytime. It has drive modes comprising of Comfort, Individual, Sport and Sport + allowing you to use it in any situation.
The 2.0 unit feels extremely punchy and the gearbox supports this very well. Even in comfort, the car does not feel slow and manages to dart around very easily. The 35 is like a chameleon, with its characteristics transforming according to the driving modes.
In comfort, it almost feels like a regular GLA 200 thanks to the very muted exhaust note and slightly more linear power delivery.
In sport, things get a little more fun but don’t go the full distance with shifts getting crisper and the engine becoming more audible.
However it is sport + or individual which are the ones you want to drive the 35 in. The engine is at full chat, the exhaust can be heard while idling, the suspension gets stiffer. But best of all is the outright acceleration which is in a word, bonkers. Yes it is slower than the 45 but who honestly cares?
The suspension is well setup as well with it handling all potholes, speed breakers and undulations comfortably. Road noise has been minimized allowing the cabin of the 35 to be quieter at triple digit speeds.
Value: The Mercedes Benz GLA35 at 68L rupees it is not exactly bad value for money either. Unless you remember that BMW also sells the M340i for about 11 lakhs more with 82HP and two cylinders more!
Auf Wiedersehen GLA35 : With our time with the baby AMG coming to a close, we realized what a great car this actually is. From pottering about town, to fitting into a tight parking slot. From keeping up with higher end sports cars to making people turn around and click photos. From being comfortable for 4 to making them have permanent smiles.
The GLA35 does it all!