Did you at any time declared to your friends that you’d never buy a Mercedes Benz because it’s a car for “old persons”? If yes, what changed? Actually I did. The change in perception had been gradual over recent years. When the A, GLA and CLA came along, the new range clearly showed the new direction Mercedes-Benz was heading.
You’ve had a string of performance cars, Subaru WRX, VW GTI and Scirocco, BMW 335i coupe, so why the GLA45? If you consider horsepower per RM as a legitimate measurement, nothing comes close to the GLA45. The closest competitor would probably be the Golf R, but I had already owned two Volkswagens in a row, and wasn’t contemplating going back to VW again after experiencing poor service from its dealers.
What other cars were in your basket of consideration? Number one on my list was a BMW M235i, I’m a huge fan of the 3.0L inline-6 turbo engine, but the best price I could get for a reconditioned unit was more than RM400,000, and a new one was close to RM500,000! I also considered a 2013 Porsche Cayman S, but the issue was the lack of a usable boot. I also toyed with the idea of a 2010 E92 BMW M3, a car which still makes me stop and stare, but that would defeat the purpose of selling my 335i which was getting old.
The compact AMG 45 series has hatchback, sedan and crossover body-styles, why choose the GLA? The A45 hatch was too small, suspension too harsh. CLA45 sedan was too expensive, and it came with the “uncle-style” white interior. Not many people know realises that only the GLA comes with powered tailgate and a Harman Kardon sound system. Also, the GLA looked just the “right” size for me.
The Mercedes brand traditionally connotes wealth and prestige. Now that you have one, what does having a three-pointed star mean to you, if anything at all? Nothing really, it was a bit of a culture shock though, going into a Mercedes-Benz dealership where they handover new cars to buyers along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony! AMG’s performance image does resonate with me, though I still hold the M Division in higher regard, at least for now.
Tell us what you don’t like about the GLA45? I find that the interior isn’t that well put together, there are already multiple squeaks and rattles after just 5,000km. It’s actually more rattly than my eight-year old BMW. Hopefully the dealership can solve the rattles during the first service. Fuel consumption is high, I’m getting worse fuel economy than my previous car with a turbo-charged 3.0L six-cylinder, though the engine is still tight, perhaps it’ll improve. I find the start/stop idling system bothersome, cuts in when I stop momentarily to pick up toll tickets, and then when it happens, the engine-off idle period is short, around five seconds at traffic lights, which defeats the purpose of having it. Lastly, the car constantly beeps due to the collision/object detection feature. In heavy traffic, it would beep when motorbikes zoom past, and it can’t be switched off. Oh, and I wished Mercedes-Benz would relocate the parking brake button to the centre console.
What about the “likes”? It’s a seriously fast car, makes me grin like a schoolboy. It sticks to the road like chewing gum, the 4Matic AWD system is ace, you can keep your foot down in roundabouts and sweeping corners, it’ll just stick. There has never been an occasion when I found it to lack grip or traction. I also like its “cockpit”, it is a very nice place to be; the steering wheel, seats, gear lever, panoramic roof – all high quality stuff.
How is the car used on a daily basis? Mostly driven on urban highways during non-peak hours, so it’s perfect for the type of spirited driving that I do. I have two young children to ferry around, and I make use of the boot.
Is there anything you like the GLA45 to be better at? Believe it or not, more torque and power wouldn’t hurt because it’s capable of handling more I feel, and maybe a larger centre screen.
Would you recommend this car to your friends? Yes. A good friend who owns a BMW 335i is planning to get a GLA45 as a replacement. Many of my like-minded friends who owns VW GTIs and Megane RS-es are also hopping on to the compact AMG bandwagon. Frankly, if you are in the market for a new, 360hp daily driver with full warranty, there aren’t many choices under RM400,000. In fact, I can’t think of any.