A grocery-getter for the Autobahn: Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG revealed

Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division loves variety.

Over the years, AMG has committed itself to building a hot-rod version of each of its parent company’s models, so it’s not surprising that the engineers in Affalterbach have turned their attention to the pint-sized GLA-Class crossover.

The GLA45 AMG will be unveiled at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, and will essentially be a CLA45 AMG with a hatch and a bit more ground clearance.

Under the hood is the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the CLA45 AMG and the A45 AMG hatchback. Producing 355 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, it’s coupled to an AMG Speedshift DCT seven-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive.

AMG says the GLA45 AMG will do 0 to 62 mph in 4.8 seconds, compared to 4.4 seconds for the lighter CLA45. Both models (and most other AMG offerings) are electronically limited to 155 mph.

The GLA45 AMG’s electronic systems are also optimized for performance driving. It gets its own electronic stability control programming – including a way to turn  the system off – and recalibrated electronic power steering. Sports suspension and upgraded brakes are also on the menu.

The styling hews pretty close to that of the GLA45 AMG Concept from the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show, albeit without the racing numbers and fancy aero aids. Bigger front intakes, AMG-specific wheels, and a rear diffuser add some muscle to this cute ‘ute, but the unwashed masses might not notice the difference.

The interior also gets a dose of adrenaline, in the form of sport seats trimmed in man-made Artico leather and Dinamica microfiber. The three-spoke steering wheel, on the other hand, gets covered in traditional Nappa leather. As is fashionable on factory hot rods these days, there’s contrasting red stitching, and even red seat belts.

Ensconced in the brushed aluminum center console is a version of the non-AMG GLA’s infotainment screen, featuring an AMG-specific startup screen, menu, and a Racetimer for impressing (or boring) the driver’s friends.

The Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG will go on sale in mid-2014, beginning with a special “Edition 1” model featuring unique exterior and interior trim. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.

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