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I've heard questions about the differences between the GLA's asked and discussed, but wanted to give a detailed write-up of the major differences between the different year GLA's. I've owned two different GLA 45's, one a 2015 and one a 2017, so got to experience a lot of these differences first hand and a big reason I'm deciding to do the comparisons. I'm in the US so the packages I'll be referring to are for that market, but should be pretty similar across all GLA's.

For some background, 2015 was the first model year of the GLA 45 AMG. It bolstered the most powerful production 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine at the time (355 hp and 332 ft-lb of torque). Funny thing, Mercedes got away with calling it an SUV for the states, when cmon, yeah its a little bigger than the cousin A45, but slap the wing on there and you scream hot hatch.. especially in the US market. 2016 saw an increase in power to 375hp and 350 ft-lb torque from the same M133 motor which holds all the way through 2019. In 2020/2021 we will see a brand new 2.0 liter 4 cylinder that will push 382 hp and 354 ft-lb torque from the base M139 engine, and 416 hp and 369 ft-lb torque from the S variants. 0-60 is projected to match the 2017 because the new gen GLA got heavier and taller. Due to the differences in the year models, I like to break them up and think of them as..
  • GLA 1.0 - 2015
  • GLA 1.5 - 2016/2017
  • GLA 2.0 - 2018/2019
  • GLA 3.0 - 2020/2021+
Although the GLA45 didn't really get a facelift until 2018, there were some significant updates that make 2016/2017 different enough than the very first generation 2015's to break up 2015-2017 into 1.0 and 1.5. I'm going to discuss some major mechanical, exterior, and interior differences between the GLA's through 2019, as the 2020 was just announced and not released yet.

Mechanical:
- As already mentioned, 2015 had 355hp/332 ft-lb torque vs 375hp/350 ft-lb torque in the 2016-2019. The 2015 had an advertised 0-60 of 4.8 seconds and I could consistently hit 4.9 without launch control or brake boost, just foot down from 0. The power increase from the 2016-2019 shaves a half second off the 0-60 to an advertised 4.3 seconds. I haven't tested this, but bet it could make that easily. It's not a super dramatic increase in power but definitely enough to feel it. This is probably in part to 2016+ getting a new driving modes in Sport+ (and RACE w/ dynamic package) versus just C/S/M in the 2015.

- There are two different transmission codes for the GLA45, 15 and 16. 2015's have Code 15 and 2016-2019 have Code 16. This is one of the biggest differences between the 2015's and 2016-2019, as the transmission was updated and remapped in the low gears. The 2015 can be a little laggy and jerky in low gear when starting from a stop, not overwhelming but something you have to get used to and if you daily it your foot gets accustomed to it pretty quick (something I heard on here called '45 foot' and that stuck with me). It would be something like if you're the owner of the car you can drive it fine and you wouldn't think of it as an issue, but toss your keys to someone who isn't used to DCT or performance cars and they might say their slush box automatic was 'smoother'. My 2017 'grabs' a lot better in low gear/from start than my 2015 and can literally feel times when the 2015 would've 'lurched' but the 2017 stays smooth.

- Sport vs Performance Exhaust system: My 2015 had the stock AMG Sport Exhaust system, and my 2017 has the AMG Performance Exhaust system. The main difference between the two mechanically is the Sport system has two decent size resonators one in the front and one in the back of the mid section, while the Performance system only has one small, skinny resonator in the front of the mid section. The electrical difference between the two is the Performance system has a button on the dash that operates a sound generator that mechanically enhances engine noise into the cabin. The sport system is definitely more muffled when comparing the two, and while rev'ing from park/neutral the Sport system is more 'deep/low' burbly tones and the Performance is 'loud/snappy' crackly tones. Under load, upshifts on the Performance system are **** near like gun shots, and loud crackly pops on decel/downshift. The Sport system still throws off a nice pop on the upshift, and if it had an 'advantage' over the Performance is that its easier to get the exhaust 'singing' on the decels/downshifts as its easier to get small burbles going. Overall, if you like noise, ticking the $650 box from factory for the Performance would be stupid not to do.

- AMG Dynamic Plus Package: This (somewhat rare) package gives a little bit extra performance from the factory with 2-stage dampening sport suspension, increased top speed, RACE mode, and a limited slip front diff. This package is the only way to get the LSD from the factory, and a big reason its sought after. RACE mode is super aggressive and always wants to be in a low gear. It's too aggressive for most driving situations, hence why its called RACE lol. If you want to track your 45 this is a package you want to have/look for. The sport suspension could also be added as a standalone option for $850.

Exterior:
- 2015-2017 didn't really see much else besides a few subtle exterior changes. The main way to tell the difference between a 2015 and 2016-2017 is the 2015's have AMG in their side badge under TURBO, while 2016+ has 4matic under the TURBO. 2015 has GLA 45 on the left and AMG badged on the right side of the rear and the 2016's+ have those badges switched so AMG is on the left.

- 2018/2019 saw a true facelift, with a more aggressive front diffusor/vents and updated headlights. The rear gets an updated diffusor but this is actually smaller than the one on the 2015-2017 and actually adds more plastic in the rear, like the tailpipes used to be enclosed in diffusor and now they're enclosed in plastic. The tail lights are probably one of the nicest parts of the facelift, with a stardust/crystal appearance in the twin running strips that is really sharp. These model years also saw a new rim with a nice multispoke 19" available.

- An option on all GLA's is the aero wing on the rear. This is a personal preference option, but definitely adds a more sporty/race look to the car vs without. If you want a sleeper, don't have the wing. If it's installed from the factory it's kind of permanent unless you want to bondo and paint drill holes.

- A pretty rare exterior option is the AMG Carbon Fiber Exterior Package. This package is $3700(USD) from the factory and also requires Night Package. A pretty expensive option for a GLA so usually was reserved for a custom build vs a dealer build for showroom. This adds carbon to the mirror caps, front splitter, side trim, and rear diffusor. The carbon weave is super high quality and everyone loves carbon.

- One thing that seems to be a pretty popular option for GLA 45's is the panoramic sunroof. This adds glass to pretty much the entire top, and opens the car up to sunlight/moonlight unless the shade is covered. If its warm weather its nice to have to cruise around or open up to take pics but also somewhat impractical for any type of cold weather climate and/or high speeds. You do get more headroom without the sunroof because the glass slopes more and also get a painted roof with two body styling lines that flow well with the hood/front.

Interior:

- GLA's can be spec'd pretty different in their interior's, and most options can be had across all model years, but 2016+ saw some extra tech upgrades that really helped refine the GLA 45 into a true AMG feel.

- COMAND NTG 4.5 vs NTG 5/5.5: There are two different COMAND systems available, the 2015 has the NTG 4.5 and the 2016+ has NTG 5/5.5. NTG 4.5 was clearly in it's last years, and only got used in the GLA its first year release. At this point 5 years later it definitely feel outdated. Some might say NTG 5/5.5 is getting outdated too but comparing the two is a big difference. If you like tech you want the NTG 5/5.5... it has some things like an engine data screen to show live hp/torque, vehicle data to show telemetry, navi is better, you get a favorites tab to save in, etc etc etc. The screen got a lot higher quality with NTG 5/5.5 too.
-CarPlay: Apple/Android CarPlay was also introduced with the NTG 5/5.5 and a pretty nice feature but a little clunky to use with the COMAND knob because it feels like its made to use with a touch screen.

- AMG Performance Seats: These seats are Recaro's, and can be had in either Dinamica/alcantara, black leather, or AMG red-cut leather. They are super nice, and hug you in place rather than feeling more like your sitting on top of the seat with the standard comfort seats. On top of the normal adjustments they also have electronic side bolstering adjustments as well. The headrest slopes less dramatically than the standard comfort seats so your head gets pushed less forward. I was fortunately the right height for the headrest but on longer drives my gf would complain that her head was pushed too far forward and would have to sit with her head at a weird side angle to be comfy. The Recaro's help add a more sporty look to the car too. I had the comfort in my first one, have Recaro's in the new one, didn't think I'd like the Recaro's and now wouldn't buy a 45 without them.

- MB-Tex Top Stitched Dash: This option is usually paired with the leather package, and adds a nice leather stitched dash in either white or red. This is another option I didn't have, then now have, and adds a way more premium feel to the interior with it versus without it. The stitching can glare a little bit on the windshield in the sun as a small complaint but not too bad.

- AMG Performance Steering Wheel: This option adds the true AMG steering wheel to the GLA, with Dinamica inserts on the sides, a 12 o'clock band, and an AMG badge on the bottom. The side inserts are molded nice to your hand. Overall, this adds another premium AMG feel, mostly because you're constantly staring at the AMG badge in the wheel. All wheels have shift paddles, and got a little more refined in the 2016+ vs 2015.

- Ambient Lighting Package: This package was first a standalone option for less than $200, and then later got bundled with a much more expensive premium package. This is one that you hear about on the forums that people want to try and add later on, because changing the colors in your Benz is something everyone wants to do. All GLA's have the ambience package that give ambient light in all the same spots as the colors, but only come through as orange. With the package, you get a selection of 12 colors. A feature that definitely gets used more when the car is 'fresh' to the new user still messing around with the settings, but I still mess around with the color on night drives every so often.

- Auto Dimming Mirrors: The convenience package gives auto dimming rear view and driver side mirrors for night driving. A super nice feature, very easy to get used to, and if you have the old-school flap dimmer it's tough to say it doesn't feel a little cheap. The dimming mirror can be retrofitted.


Overall, the sweet spot for the GLA is probably '17-'19, as it loses its hatch feel from '20 on growing up and becoming more like a true SUV, and it also took a couple years to become completely refined into a true pocket rocket AMG. The 2015's are still nice, and at this point a nice price too, so don't overlook them.. especially if you've never had a 45 before.. a lot of the gripes I have are little nit-picky since I can directly compare a 2015 and 2017.

For the US market, the GLA sits in a pretty niche spot, without a lot of direct competition. Some people will call it the 'budget AMG', and others will call it a 'rich man's WRX/STI'.
  • Vs. WRX/STI. Stock vs Stock the GLA completely gaps a WRX and still easily doors/gaps the STI, and don't even get me started on the Legacy interior lol.
  • Vs. Golf R. This might be the closest comparison to the GLA, and stock vs stock a 2015 GLA 45 doors a 2019 Golf R.
  • Vs. Rs3. Although a sedan, probably the closest motor/performance wise you can get in the states. On the highway the two are pretty close unless the Rs3 gets a clear straight to pull away.
  • Vs. C43 AMG. This is another somewhat vague comparison with a sedan, but price wise someone looking at GLA's might look at C43's too. The C has the way nicer interior, and pulls away from the GLA on the highway but they are two pretty different cars at the end of the day.
I probably missed a few things so comment/add in, or feel free to ask me to expand on anything else.

Have fun!
- AMGOwner
 

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Great write up and thanks for doing this.

There are other options like wheel color and red painted brake calipers and dash cover (painted / wood / aluminum / carbon fiber) but I'm nit picking to even point these items out!!!

The big headlight change in 2018 was LED. Also in 2018 a bird's eye camera (360 degree downward view) became available as well as touchless rear hatch opening (wave your foot under the bumper). I believe folding mirrors were also added to the options list on 2018.

I don't think we can get under the seat storage bins on any model year (you can in Canada) so I bought the parts and installed them myself.

Same problem for puddle lights (on the bottom of the side mirrors to light the ground as you approach the vehicle).

Seems like a touch screen came in there somewhere as well although some have reported swapping the display altogether and getting the touchscreen that way ... Which would help Android Auto.

Each year one paint option was replaced. Northern lights violet was replaced with Lunar Blue starting in 2017 for instance.

Of course wheel options were 19 or 20 inch while from an after market standpoint (snow tires) only some 18 inch wheels will clear the larger AMG brakes (verify fit before mounting tires).

Debadging was a $0 option. And there was the normal stuff like park assist, Distronic radar assisted cruise control (which is incompatible with the lit star on the grill), and lit door sills. Add to that lane keeping and blind spot assist.

Of course there were accessory options like floors mats, rear cargo tray and bins and thresh hold protector.

****, this list is getting longer than I was thinking.

In other words ... Enough options to make a lot of non identical cars!!! Note: The above is for USA cars specifically. It is incomplete. MB has different specs for every country so YMMV.

My dealer sent me the DOG (dealer order guide) for the 2020 year a few months ago. He asked me to not share it since it was preliminary but if you contact your dealer and ask nicely you may be able to get your own. This will give you full information on all options but it may be outdated by the time you order so if you're looking to purchase new keep in touch with your dealer ... And think about European delivery if it remains available.
 

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This is a great review of the various versions of the GLA45 and some of the key option packages. We have had three GLA45 in different countries (Italy, USA & Canada), one from each of the three series.

Our first car, that we still own and keep in Italy, is a 2015 early (but not a 1st Edition) production car that we got from the dealer in Florence and was a MB Italy demo car with 5-6K kms. We have had it since late 2015 and it now has about 30k on it. Fairly well equipped and has, for some unknown reason, 18” wheels that we find just fine. Once we became accustomed to the transmission's rather weird shifting have to say it was just fine, It does not have COMAND but has a Garmin chip for navigation that works way better (IMHO) that COMAND which I find, in any form, to be simply garbage and, in my view, is it is dangerous because it is so slow.

Our second car was a late production 2016 US car we had in the southeast and drove about 15k miles over 18 months. Not our favorite for a number of reasons. to start, it had COMAND and It had 20” wheels which meant a rough ride on some of the roads it had to be driven on which also resulted in 3 or 4 tire problems. We left in in Atlanta when we moved to Toronto.

The third car is an early production 2018 Canadian spec’d car (we special ordered the car and actually expected a 2017 but what showed up was a 2018). It has 19” wheels for summer and a MB Canada 18” winter wheel package and is a well-equipped car. The seats are the basics (which we have found to be the better of the four alternatives though have to admit to really liking the look of the Recaros in either fabric or leather). The only real issue for us is it is virtually impossible to get a car in Canada without COMAND so we have the crap COMAND infotainment system in this car. No question, the amended transmission (what ever MB|AMG did) makes a big drivability difference between the early series and the later series but the performance between our Italian 2015 car and the North American 2018 is really not much (we have experienced a noticeable response difference between the European and the North American cars in all series, particularly the GLA 1.0’s). WTS, I drove a nearly new 2019 GLA45 in Belgium a few weeks ago and really could not tell the difference between it and our 2018 Canadian car but am told the transmission and engine mapping or whatever is a bit different because of the emissions regs in EU versus North America.

I was looking forward to the upcoming GLA45s but am thinking the new version is likely to be somewhat heaver and may not be as nimble so, despite the new engine with more HP and the 8 speed transmission, may be better to stick with the 2018 we have or get an A Class 45s (if we get it in Canada) but we have seen one of these cars and it is just too **** low…… sometimes newer is not better….. in reality these are great cars.....
 

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Hi AMGowner, with regard to this, I have a '15 GLA45 with 26k, not sure why we don't have this in our signatures anymore, but in any case:

Mechanical:
- As already mentioned, 2015 had 355hp/332 ft-lb torque vs 375hp/350 ft-lb torque in the 2016-2019. The 2015 had an advertised 0-60 of 4.8 seconds and I could consistently hit 4.9 without launch control or brake boost, just foot down from 0. The power increase from the 2016-2019 shaves a half second off the 0-60 to an advertised 4.3 seconds. I haven't tested this, but bet it could make that easily. It's not a super dramatic increase in power but definitely enough to feel it. This is probably in part to 2016+ getting a new driving modes in Sport+ (and RACE w/ dynamic package) versus just C/S/M in the 2015.

25 hp/18lbs is not going to give you .5 secs. Granted there is stated smoothness in transmission mapping changes but this is not going to give you much beyond "smoothness". From my research you are quoting a Euro 0-62 time with the '15, stated at 4.8, and the 0-60 is 4.5. So the newer versions are 2 tenths faster. Just a clarification if anyone would like to chime in on. You certainly can post a quarter mile time(s) on your '15 to prove me wrong, but you should be able to do better than 4.8.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hi AMGowner, with regard to this, I have a '15 GLA45 with 26k, not sure why we don't have this in our signatures anymore, but in any case:

25 hp/18lbs is not going to give you .5 secs. Granted there is stated smoothness in transmission mapping changes but this is not going to give you much beyond "smoothness". From my research you are quoting a Euro 0-62 time with the '15, stated at 4.8, and the 0-60 is 4.5. So the newer versions are 2 tenths faster. Just a clarification if anyone would like to chime in on. You certainly can post a quarter mile time(s) on your '15 to prove me wrong, but you should be able to do better than 4.8.
Pulling a direct quote from 2016 Mercedes CLA45, GLA45 AMG Boosted to 375 HP ...

START QUOTE
"Mercedes-AMG has increased the engine specs for the 2016 CLA45 and GLA45 AMG models, bumping power output up to 375 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque.

When the CLA45 AMG was first introduced on the market, the German automaker bragged about how it featured the world’s most powerful four-cylinder engine with the 2.0-liter mill producing 355 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Since then, Volkswagen has been targeting the record with its Golf R400 while the new Ford Focus RS nears sits close to the record with 345 hp, forcing VW to boost its output to retain its record.

In addition to more power under the hood, the company has revamped the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with updated gear ratios for better acceleration performance.

The result? Well, the CLA45 AMG now goes 0-60 in 4.1 seconds, 0.3 seconds faster than the 2015 CLA45. The 2016 Mercedes GLA45 AMG is rated at a 4.3-second time, half-a-second faster than the 4.8 for the 2015 model year.

Both models will also see the AMG Driver’s package discontinued for the new model year and the AMG Performance Studio package will only be available on the CLA45, getting axed from the GLA45. There’s also a new AMG Dynamic Plus package that offers a limited-slip differential, adaptive suspension, a performance steering wheel and a 167-mph top speed.

North American pricing for the 2016 Mercedes CLA45 AMG and GLA45 AMG is expected to be announced in October."
END QUOTE

I agree 20hp alone isn't going to give you a half second, but the combination of the engine updates, transmission updates, Sport+ mode and even the potential of limited slip front diff really does make a difference. The transmission remap is the most apparant change, especially in the lower gears and its more than just a 'smoothness change.' Sport+ is tuned more aggressively than just Sport in the 2015 too.

All numbers aside, this write up comes from first hand experience between a 2015 and 2017, and there definitely is a difference. I wouldn't say its enough for people already in GLA's to worry that if they have a 2015 it 'underperforms' when compared to the 2016+'s or anything like that. After having dailyed a 2015 for 20k miles and now dailying a 2017 for 5k miles so far, it really shows that the 2015 was the first generation of a vehicle release that got more refined in later years, is how I would sum it up.
 

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yep, I've read that from a few years back and see other claims. The problem is they are not looking closely....originally much of the speed tests shown for the 2015 were conducted 0-100km/h, which if folks assume is 0-60, it's not, it's 0-62.

so if you go to this site, which has some amazingly detailed specs, and scroll down you will find 2 times, 0-60 of 4.5 and 0-100 of 4.8. This would make much more sense if we conclude the car gained +20hp and about +18 lb/ft (which isn't much), and likely gained a bit of efficiency with the tweaks done in the tranny for smoothness for drivers. These changes never were like the latest 2020 S model with very different design, many changes. The change in power from '15 to '16+ can't even be attributed to boost, so just some minor mapping changes, plus tranny.


This site you can open another window and I think you mentioned you had a '17 as well, so you can look at all the specs to compare, though for the most part the cars did not hardly change.
 

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I meant this: so if you go to this site, which has some amazingly detailed specs, and scroll down you will find 2 times, 0-60 of 4.5 and 0-100 of 4.8.

To say this: so if you go to this site, which has some amazingly detailed specs, and scroll down you will find 2 times, 0-60 of 4.5 and 0-100 km/h of 4.8.
 

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I pulled out the 2017 press release notes as well as the DOG (Dealer Order Guide) and found the attached. Page 33 of the DOG contains an asterisk that indicates the load dependent variable vane is common. The Performance Exhaust has enhanced sound that appears to be simulated noise piped into the cabin. It also has a button on the dash but at this point I am wondering what the button does other than over ride the computers better sense to adjust the valve to maintain torque (or maybe that's what turns the sound on and off in the cabin ...
Maybe that's all the performance exhaust is ... Sound piped into the car)!!!

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Great commentary, and great info by AMG Owner. I have a 2018 with very few options. It does have premium sound and 522 AUDIO 20 RADIO NAVIGATION CAPABLE NTG5. If it has the engine data function, I have not been able to figure out how to make it work. Was the engine data function not available on some option packages. Even though I have premium sound, I don't have satellite radio functions available.
I've tried reading the owner's manual and it is not clear to me.
Thanks.
 

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Yes Wayne, but I think others have already mentioned this in the past. For the substantial added cost, it's a sound event, not a performance event. I'm all about stealth, my 45 has grey calipers, no wing, the 19's. So unless you know what an AMG mercedes is, I just have a little benz.

I will hopefully have the AMS high flow filter on shortly as well as Weistec BOV. This should put me at 375HP/350lb. We'll see how this feels and I have to do oil/filter this week. So then summer I'll see how I like this and consider Vivid racing plugable tune (not sending ECU anywhere). I only actually would love to see 30HP even though claims are up to 70HP. But what these things don't like to say is, in order to get more power, you need more gas, you need more timing changes, and you need more BOOST. Based on my knowledge with this system I can dial it down a little and perhaps gain 25-30 HP with maybe 1.5 more boost, what I want, since anything more worries me. I think Ford has struggled a bit with Focus RS head gasket issues.

I simply would love to have a 2.0T with 400hp, 375lb ft. in a 3450 lb AWD vehicle. Who can argue with that? And trust me, coming back home from Denver Airport in Feb. of this year at a nightime snowstorm and having no problems in the left lane with blizzard, this car can do some things in bad weather with continental all season tires (DWS06).
 

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@Shadowfax , when you get that filter and BOV, drive half an hour south and come visit me. We can test bone stock '16 GLA45 (w/ performance exhaust) vs. the '15 GLA45 the filter and BOV. My guess is it will be nearly identical and the advertised performance differences b/w the 15 vs 16 are exaggerated. I feel that the '16+ kinda cheat a bit on the 0-60 time because they do so by invoking the secret and difficult "launch mode", switching to RACE, both paddles up, blah blah blah... I hate it and never use it and it isn't practical at all. Do the 2015's have the launch mode voodoo? My understanding is that they don't, but not sure... So, if we do a pull, from a dead stop, I'll just put it in Sport and floor it. Launch mode is a difficult party trick with zero practical driving application. (That's one thing I love about my Tesla - no different acceleration/shift modes at all, always ready). And speaking of such... we can also take a spin in the Model 3 and you'll agree with me it is worlds faster than our GLA45's.
 

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I'd like to meet up with you this summer, we'll see given current conditions. I will be at the MB Westminster for oil/filter change tomorrow AM. I chose bring to them since coming to get it and bring it back requires 2 people and they could not guarantee same day back. Besides, they said showrooms are closed basically, salespeople are doing their thing online.

I would love to see your Shelby. Always considered Mustang options...something new/performance or a beloved '69 Mach 1, perhaps with big block. But since we have another rather little known collectible sitting in our 3 car garage, I needed a fast (well I didn't need this), AWD, small motor, high performance hatch back that would take the place of my Ford Bronco!!!! Yes, I chose this, I know longer needed the big and bulky.

Oh, the other collectible is # 492 of 1152, a 2009 Pontiac Solstice GXP 2.0 Turbo Coupe (not convertible, it has removable hardtop). Has the GM Performance Tune, so 290HP and 325lb in a 3k car. Still under 8k miles. There were only 2-3 others I knew of in our state. Not as fast as my AMG as she sits, but still fun, I like the very rare, careful with this car.
 

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Oh, I forgot to mention, on the race mode with a '15, yes, it's there, it's a bit complicated and was totally not setup to induce on the street unless you are on a quiet, long strip of road (really track). Which does bring up a point....most people are not able to handle a low 4 second 0-60 car, let alone a 3.3s. At least not without some experienced guidance from a driver that does have some real ability to drive. So the thought this is available is scary (she's 85). You get the point though, there are a ton of really questionables on the road, and the thought they can easily access 3.3s is scary.

But a '15 vs '16 match in Sport if you have a safe spot is great, I guess this may prove or dismiss another post I had basically stating that with this addition the cars would be equal.
 

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Great info AMGowner! I'm thinking about trading my '15 in for a newer GLA45 and your comparison answered a lot of my questions. BTW the differences in 0-60mph times between '15 and '16+ were largely attributed to slightly revised DCT gearing. I'm sure the extra 20hp didn't hurt though.
 
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