The 2021 Mercedes AMG GLA 45 4Matic+ proves that some small crossovers can, in fact, shred.

Car: 2021 Mercedes AMG GLA 45 4Matic+
Location: Angeles National Forest
Photog: Peter Nelson (Instagram + Twitter: @16vPete)
Camera: Canon 6D + EF 50mm 1.8II AF

I know, I know, this is coming from the guy who’s written love letters to their own ultra-light, lukewarm hatchback.

The small crossover end of the new car market has essentially killed cars like my Mazda 2. Well, at least mortally wounded them, ensuring that their place in the US market will be minimal at best.

But at least, in terms of this angry little, er, rather big, AMG Mercedes, it makes up for it. Its hand-built turbocharged engine helps it lunge to 60 mph from a stop in four seconds (MB says 4.3 seconds, Car and Driver says 3.9, I’ll say four). It’s got fully independent suspension at all four corners, adaptive dampers, all-wheel drive, and sticky Yokohama summer tires, which all make it a grippy beast in the corners.

Though, when the road gets especially tight, it doesn’t matter how good one’s inputs are, the chassis starts to get overwhelmed and it starts hinting at understeer. Especially on roads where my little, 2,300-pound Mazda 2 would slice right through.

The GLA45 is very good, and I hope more manufacturers follow suit by introducing their own hot crossovers. Thankfully, Hyundai recently did with the Kona N; it’s good that people won’t have to shell out the GLA45’s massive $55,000 base price to attain something of its size with enthusiasm engineered into its DNA.

Though, it’s still a bummer that America’s obsession with small crossovers has largely destroyed modest enthusiasm in smaller, modest, and cheaper segments.