Mercedes-Benz’s GLA45 AMG Concept is a hot rod Benz with racing stripes and a tailgate

Mercedes-Benz unveiled the Concept GLA45 AMG – a near-production-ready performance version of its GLA-Class compact crossover – at the 2013 LA Auto Show.

The GLA is based on the recently-introduced CLA-Class compact, so it’s no surprise that Mercedes transplanted the beating heart of the hot rod CLA45 AMG into this hot crossover.

Under that curvy bodywork is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 355 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. It’s coupled to an AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, and and AMG-tuned 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

That mass of grunt and gears will get the GLA45 AMG from 0-60 mph in under five seconds. The CLA45 AMG takes 4.4 seconds to reach 60 mph, but expect the heavier GLA45 to take a bit longer.

Mercedes didn’t explicitly say so, but the GLA45 will probably have the same electronically-limited 155 mph top speed as almost every other AMG Mercedes.

For its LA Auto Show debut, Mercedes decided to dress the GLA45 AMG up as a race car. The more aggressive front end treatment and bigger wheels and tires could make it to production, but the front air deflectors and rear spoiler probably won’t.

Neither will the graphics and “45” numbers on the doors, although one can always hope. The look appears to be borrowed from the CLA45 AMG Racing Series Mercedes unveiled back in September.

Considering the similarities between the GLA and CLA – and that Mercedes has a habit of turning utility vehicles into performance cars (*cough* GL63 AMG) – it seems likely that the GLA45 AMG will follow the regular GLA into showrooms eventually.

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