Dean Bousfield’s bright red GLA45 AMG packs more horsepower than a Testarossa, and rolls as deep as the Mariana Trench. The mums on the school run had better play nice – this is one SUV that’ll rip your heart right out…
In the writing-about-cars game, we sometimes get to drive some pretty cool stuff. Sure, it’s mostly just late nights, low wages and panicking about misspelled words or typos, but every now and then you get tossed the keys to something like a brand new Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG and suddenly the world is all sunshine and roses for a bit.
Imagine a slightly scaled-up version of the revered and utterly manic A45 AMG: you get the same engine and 4WD system along with a bit more legroom in the back and a bigger boot. It has a hand-built 2.0-litre turbo motor producing a frankly rather silly 360bhp as standard, which is mated to a paddle-shift 7-speed DCT ’box. The optional AMG exhaust – which you can spot by its central vertical divider on either tailpipe – is probably the best box you can tick on the options list, as full-bore flat upshifts are rewarded with a hilarious crackle that sounds (to wheel out a hackneyed but entirely appropriate cliché) like rapid artillery fire.
The handling is utterly sublime, the 4Matic system shifting the oodles of torque around with pocketfuls of witchcraft and sorcery, so that even greasy roads plastered with wet leaves offer no impediment to supersonic progress. And those AMG bucket seats? Just wonderful. All cars should have these.
Now, for most people, this would be the sort of car that you build up to over a long period of time. There’s probably a flipchart in Mercedes-Benz HQ with a broad table of consumer demographics of AMG models, pointing the GLA45 squarely at late-thirties/early-forties family men with a spacious four-bed in the ’burbs and a summer place on the Costa. But rules are dull and modifiers love to be the exception, so perhaps you won’t be surprised to learn that this is only Dean Bousfield’s second car. He had a Corsa as his first, now he has this. How cool is that?
“My first car was a 1.4 SRi Twinport Corsa, with the usual cheap mods,” he recalls. “17″ wheels, K&N intake, and I removed the silencer and put a bigger exhaust on. I’d always dreamt about modifying cars, but never had the money to really. Growing up I had every single issue of Fast Car up until I joined the Army in 2004 – then I just moved around and I don’t know what’s happened to them! And yes, this is only my second car – I bought it as soon as I got my license back after being injured in Afghanistan.”
And while it’s his second, this car is bristling with firsts… possibly the first GLA45 AMG sold in the country, the first in the world on air-ride, and the first and only set of these particular wheels. But we’ll get to all that. Let’s rewind to 2014 and see where this all started…