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Background ... We ordered our GLA45 last April for a late August pickup in Germany. We drove 2500 miles through Europe over the course of 15 days and then waited for what seemed like roughly three years for the car to arrive on the West Coast and be delivered to our dealer in Northern California in December. Driving since then has been primarily Pam around town, until New Year's Eve.

Our trip covered five days with the first and last covering a bit over 500 miles each with a few hundred miles in between. The following covers some insights.

New Year's Eve (4 PM) we headed out from north of San Francisco to the 5 on the way to Valley Center in the mountains to the northeast of San Diego. For those who may be unfamiliar, 70 miles north of LA the 5 goes over the Grapevine, which can occasionally get closed due to snow. There are several major warehouses on the north side. This translates to a lot of 18 wheelers (to be realized soon). 100 miles north of the Grapevine we were warned of snow in the pass. 50 miles away we were notified that the CHP were escorting cars through the pass. 5 miles away the pass was closed. The option was to hit the 99 north to Bakersfield and take the 58 east through Mojave to the 395. We sat for an hour in the dark on the entry to the 58 since the highway was closed due to an accident. It is worth noting that the only way out of the Central Valley is over mountains. And there was snow in all directions. And with the wait the road in front of us was piling up. We were on our summer performance tires at temperatures well below 40F. In other words, we were somewhat out of tolerances!!!

First, we were early adopters of satellite radio many years ago and then dropped out. It is nice to have it back.

Second, over the 58 we got into heavy snowfall, very slick ice, slush chunks dropped from fender wells, snow to 6 inches, while traveling at 45 to 60 mph with heavy traffic and a lot of 18 wheelers.

Background ... I grew up in snow country and used to ride my motorcycle while my father drove our snowmobile. I am used to this kind of driving.

It appeared that everyone else on the road was equally experienced since, in normal California traffic rain is like ice, but that night everyone drove VERY well. The 45 was exceptional. The AWD kicked in and out and even when I developed cushion zones to play in the car remained stable ... unsettling stable and almost boring.

At around the middle of the pass the car warned me that the sensors were dirty and may not function properly.

At around 500 miles I got a Take a Break warning as I was focusing on a dark exit which prevented me from my normal scan rate (no other cars in my vicinity).

As we drove into the mountains and twisties the car came to life. The steering feedback is not as good as my 997 (electric vs hydraulic) and the car dips a bit more in the curves, but overall it is smoother and easier to drive at speed. The 997 loads the rear end while cornering and bounces out of the apex. The 45 is much more predictable near the extreme and that helps after 500 miles. Also note that I have the 997 aligned for quick turn in and that makes it a bit twitchy in the straights (long freeway hauls). The 45 was much more pleasant in this manner, although I love my 997 enough that it is most unpleasant to admit this!!!

My son got to drive the car down and up the hill the next day and did enjoy it. On the return, he noticed the slow left lane bound Honda bouncing much more than we were and was elated to see how fast we went from 50 to 90+ as he passed on the right side. He also enjoyed the cliff side twisties of course!

The next day we hit Top of the World above Laguna Beach. The twisty road up the hill proved the value of the flat torque curve and sport suspension setting. Truly a joy. Driving out at sunset proved the value of the low dropping sun visors as the sun dropped at the southern tip of Catalina Island. Driving down Park Ave I generally use a low gear, but the oil was cold and I find the 45 to have limited motor braking, so I opted for the wide pedal. I do like the brakes, which brings up brake hold ... a decadent thing that shouldn't matter, but yet I can't help but smile every time I use it. And that brings up another observation ... with brake hold on, it takes a bit more throttle to get moving as the motor restarts and take off seems to be smoother.

We arrived in Anaheim for parking under the hotel where we met our youngest, her husband, and their two daughters (two days in Disneyland for a sixth birthday). I should have tried the auto parking back in style, but figured we had too much to get out of the back to be against the wall. Still, the parking sensors were nice to have.

So a few days later we said goodbye to the kids and headed to visit two of Pam's brothers before heading home.

Up the 5 we hit fog and rain and clear, but no snow. I had time to play with the cruise control and I must apologize for anything and everything I've said disparagingly about Distronic. I set it to 81 and, even when traffic slowed us to 45, when I re-engaged it created a wonderful S velocity curve to smoothly ramp back to 81. So I shut it off and ran into 3 digits and turned it back on and it performed almost as well on the slow down. I now understand the idea of setting it as you leave the garage and using it thereafter on the way to work. Again, my apologies for not realizing how good this was before.

We still love the back up camera and even after over 500 miles, late at night, on the dark of our uphill driveway with tight turn, backing in was a breeze.

Yes, we are still enjoying the 45!!!
 

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Nice write-up! Sounds like you had a great trip. It's always a plus when getting there and getting back home are as much fun as the places you visit and the people you see!
 

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I love downshifting into power as I enter a corner, then laying into it post apex and rocketing out. As I've gotten more comfortable in the vehicle I keep pushing it gradually harder and harder. As you've said before, this car really likes to be driven hard. It seems almost snobby at sane paces, as if it itself wants to go harder. I'll admit that the FWD bias of this car makes it particularly suited to this foolery - if I was heavy on my 202 I could get the tail loose coming out of corners, and I'm sure cars with modern power plants have much more of this problem. With the 156, I've felt it send power rearward on occasion but never has it felt at all risky. It's very, very stable.

With snow tires, I have yet to have it trigger AWD due to road conditions, but then the Germans are religious about salting and we've only had light snowfall thus far. This week is supposed to be almost solid snow, so we shall see.

You're considerably more optioned out than mine, but I believe you don't have to disable cruise control on the upper - if you gas up into the red part (one of my favorite little flourishes), it will curve itself back down when you let off.
 

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Yep, I didn't need to shut off the cruise control when I went over speed. But since I was testing I wanted to bring it in "cold" at 20+ mph over the set speed. It performed admirably.

I neglected to mention another thing. The 5 goes for some hundreds of miles so there is a tendency to pass and be passed multiple times by cars going about the same speed (due to traffic). You start to know your neighbors and their driving styles.

The return trip was in the dark so headlights were on as well as the illuminated tri-star in the grill. We've made this run over a hundred times but and there are always cars going slow in the left lane. Generally in the States people view the left lane as a destination rather than a temporary use lane during passing. Since the best forward visibility is when your head is closest to the center of the lanes, this is doubly dumb and obnoxious, but enough said.

I noticed for the first during this trip that as I came up on traffic that was in the left lane while I was in the right, there was a tendency (especially with the cars I was passing and being passed by) for the left lane cars to move right so I could pass on the left. In over a hundred trips on the 5 this has never happened. I can't help but feel the illuminated tri-star was having an affect. That was about the only identifying object others would see as we approached. No absolute conclusions here, and I've never noticed freeway drivers to be aware of their rear views, but I will be tracking this on future trips.
 

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Looks like you’ve had a good trip! The thread is old, but I still like to read old stories and imagine the people they are about.
I don’t think I would be able to travel like this because I usually buy train tickets from https://www.dbfahrplan.com/de/ and go somewhere by train. It is the best way for me since I have anxiety issues and cannot stand traveling in a small space surrounded by people. Fortunately, some trains are always half empty, and I can find a quiet place near a window and look at all the natural beauty. It is my favorite part of any travel - the beginning.
 
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