This is the Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 4Matic, and it is the performance-focused variant of the second-generation crossover aimed at power-hungry individuals. It is also the seventh (and latest) member of the company’s range of compact 35-series models, which includes the A 35 (hatchback, sedan and extended-wheelbase sedan for China), CLA 35 (sedan and shooting brake) and GLB 35.

The GLA 35 shares a similar powertrain with the larger GLB 35, and is powered by a M260 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, which serves up 306 PS (302 hp) at 5,800 rpm and 400 Nm of torque from 3,000 to 4,000 rpm.

Drive goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed AMG Speedshift DCT dual-clutch transmission and AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel drive system – the latter is variable from front-wheel drive only to a 50:50 distribution.

With this setup, the hot crossover gets from zero to 100 km/h in just 5.1 seconds, and will continue accelerating to an electronically-limited top speed of 250 km/h. Following NEDC regulations, the model has a rated fuel consumption of 7.5-7.4 l/100 km, while CO2 emissions is 171-170 g/km.

Being an AMG model, there are a few model-specific features that are unique to the GLB 35, including AMG Dynamics modes that extend the stabilising functions of the car’s ESP with two options – Basic and Advanced. These are attached to the five primary AMG Dynamic Select drive modes – Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual – with the last one allowing for a more personalised setup.

The AMG exhaust system also offers different sound signatures depending on the chosen drive mode, ranging from emotive (Sport+) to discreet (Slippery, Comfort and Sport). The drivetrain too gets its own specific functions, as the transmission comes as standard with a Race-Start function, while the all-wheel drive system can be put in ESP Sport Handling for more dynamic handling characteristic.

Aside from these systems, the GLA 35 comes a reinforced bodyshell to offer increased torsional stiffness that features an aluminium plate bolted under the engine and two additional diagonal braces at the front of the underbody.

The MacPherson front strut and four-link rear axle suspension has also been tuned to promote higher cornering speeds and reduce body roll, which can be further improved by specifying the optional AMG Ride Control adaptive damping system. Other considerations include a beefier brake system, with four-piston calipers acting on 350-mm ventilated front discs, and single-piston calipers on 330-mm discs for the rear.

To make the GLA 35 stand out from a regular GLA 200, the model gets an AMG-specific radiator grille to go along with its AMG Line exterior. Additional cues include the silver chrome trim on the outer air inlets and door panel inserts, which are also available in high-gloss black, as well as wheels ranging from 19 to 21 inches in size.

At the rear, the lower apron sports a prominent diffuser insert that is flanked by two round tailpipes, while higher up, there’s an AMG spoiler lip on the roof spoiler. Specify the optional AMG Night Package, and you’ll get more areas finished high-gloss black, dark-tinted glass and black chrome-plated exhaust tailpipes.

Inside, there’s Artico man-made leather and Dinamica microfibre upholstery in different designs and colours, while the MBUX infotainment system gets AMG-specific displays (Supersport, Sport and Classic) and functions. The latter includes AMG Track Pace, a data logger for use on race tracks that also takes advantage of the system’s augmented reality function to show the ideal line of a stored race track.

Other AMG touches include interior trim with a carbon-fibre structure, air vents with a red ring, and a Nappa leather sports steering wheel that can be swapped out for an AMG Performance steering wheel with quick access controls to the drive modes and other driving-related systems.