The secret is out. NWAS now has an official shop promo vehicle, and it’s one of the craziest ideas Mercedes has dreamed up thus far — the GLA45 AMG. All it took was getting a sneak peek of the production model at Mercedes-Benz of Lynnwood many moons ago to spark our interest. There are still a lot of changes to make till we reach the next benchmark of the “build,” but now seems like a good time to bring everyone up to speed. What started out as a joke among internet car friends is now rapidly coming to fruition, and we couldn’t be happier about it.
As the story goes, Blake tracked down the perfect spec of GLA45 AMG in California and put the wheels in motion to get it relocated to the Pacific North West. Of course, that meant picking the car up personally in Beverly Hills & making the drive all the way back to Lynnwood in just a weekend worth of time, but hey, you do what you’ve got to do. Initially, the intent was to craft the GLA45 into a sort-of rolling display of services we offer, but as you will see, things escalated rather quickly.
After spitballing a few ideas around the office & scouring the web, the goal became clear: take Mercedes latest hot hatch from ritzy boy racer to a more capable gravel crusher in as few of steps as possible. Upon powering up Photoshop and ripping into a few photos of the Edition 1 AMG, we found ourselves face-to-face with serious potential for automotive awesome. On top of a Total Coverage XPEL Stealth wrap, vinyl accents, and PhotoSync window tint, the GLA was set to receive downsized wheels, a more aggressive tire combo, front bull bar, fogs, a roof rack for additional gear hauling, and a custom exhaust system to complete the first stage of upgrades.
As always, we prepped the GLA45 AMG for XPEL installation with the help of a thorough 24-step hand wash. After making the trek all the way from Cali, it definitely needed it.
Coincidentally, the day the AMG arrived, we had a second GLA250 in from MB Lynnwood for a Premium XPEL Ultimate protection package in a similar shade of grey. While the 250 got wrapped up, Carlos began tinting out the the GLA AMG with plenty of PhotoSync from Prestige Film Technologies. In case you’re not familiar with the benefits of PhotoSync window tint, just check out our product spotlight from the archives for more info.
Once the wrap film choices had been finalized, we began brainstorming the first iteration of the GLA’s graphic pack. With no plans to riff off a version of a motorsport classic in any legitimate form just yet, we decided to formulate something from the AMG playbook.
Once the GLA moved into the install bay, it was time for lift-off. Having patterned a majority of the vehicle days prior, Tim quickly set to work getting XPEL Stealth paint protection installed on every inch of the GLA.
We’ve been stealthing a lot of vehicles this year, and for good reason. Not only does the film offer the same impressive self-healing qualities as XPEL Ultimate, but it accentuates every body line & brings a certain level of mystique to base paint colors. The Mountain Grey Metallic this GLA came sprayed with now resembles the matte designo Magno option without the $2,500 price difference. Granted, the material cost of Stealth is equally far from cheap, but the supplementary protection it adds drastically outweighs the risk & care regiment required from a flat factory finish.
Once all the XPEL Stealth had cured up, we started to finalize the wrap with a few red vinyl accents in Avery satin carmine red. The side graphics still needed to be completed, and the car show was closing in fast. Crunch time was upon us.
Fast forward a couple days, and the GLA was finally starting to look a little more rally-ready. After sourcing a custom built flat rack for the roof and narrowing down wheel options, we ran the car over to Auto Deriva for an extended overnight stay. Crafting a bull bar from scratch that would be structurally sound is something of an art form, and they were just the shop to handle it. Take one step inside the Auto Deriva, and it becomes very clear that they mean business. — note the crazy wide, caged up Rocket Bunny S13 lurking in the background for further evidence.
As luck would have it, the proverbial stars aligned at just the right time and Blake happened upon a set of Prodrive GC-07Cs at the ready. Though we originally envisioned the car riding on TE-37 Gravels, the Prodrive GCs have an air of rally flare that works perfectly. Downsizing from the 10 spoke AMG 20’s to an aggressive 18s was a squeeze, but with a meaty tire and just the right width, the fitment was spot on. Once they were refinished with a brilliant gloss white powder coat, we cut up some red Prodrive stickers for a little color pop & mounted them up.
After a long night of graphic installation, wiring lights, and dialing in the GLA, the time had finally come for the first reveal. We packed up our tents, filled the cars up with supplies, and hit the road for the 8th annual Red Square Charity Car Show at the University of Washington.
Skipping ahead to present day, the GLA45 AMG has finally made its way in the cyclorama after a few weeks of daily driving. It’s hard not to put miles on a new car to begin with, but it’s even more difficult when it’s a snotty hot hatch with straight piped exhaust & 26 pounds of boost to brap around with. Despite the constant chore of trying to keep white wheels clean, the car is looking as fresh as the day the XPEL wrap went on.
Up front, the Hella fogs look right at home perched at badge level with their complimentary black housing. We’re still hunting for the perfect LED light bar to mount up to the flat rack, and a 4-pod for the hood may also be in the cards, but for now this setup seems to be lighting the way just fine.
The side graphics are a take off the AMG typeface & gradient bar design, with one side in white & the other in matte black, carefully layered on top of Avery Black Pearl that’s plotted on natural body lines. The text is overlaid on top of a duplicate cut; the result of which is a raised lettering effect that’s distinct, but still quite subtle to spot. If it weren’t for the white driver’s side graphics, the lettering would nearly disappear into the car completely at certain angles. The graphic pack is likely to change in the coming months, so hit us up if you’ve got any ideas for what we should do next!
It’s almost hard to believe the Prodrive 18s fit, and compared to the factory 20s, they look much more at home wrapped up in chunky Yokohama Geolandars. After all, if MBUSA is going to classify the GLA45 AMG as an SUV, it could benefit from a more utilitarian wheel & tire combo, right? Brake clearance is snug, but the end result feels right at home on such a kooky crossover.
Look closely at the 45, and you’ll start to notice there are little red vinyl accents hidden everywhere. We wanted to capture the loud looks of an Edition 1, but with more clean integration. The underside of the rear spoiler, the front dive planes, lower grill splitter, and even the roof rails have been treated to satin carmine, tying everything together from top to bottom. We brought some red vinyl treatments to the interior as well, but we’ll save that for the next update.
To further the AMG branding on the GLA, we recovered front 3 point star with a large Affalterbach logo relief in matte black. It helps to keep any unfamiliar onlookers guessing as to what the car is, and in a way, emulates a third foglight. The adaptive cruise sensor hidden behind the emblem is still fully functional too!
Some of our readers may recognize the satirical driver / co-pilot window stickers from the infamous BCZRCCR Porsche have found there way onto the AMG. Given the rally-esque theme the GLA is pushing, it seemed only right to include them.
As you can see , the blacked out graphics on the passenger side are hard to spot, as is the red spoiler underside. Working in these types of hidden elements is one of our favorite parts of vehicle wrap design.
There’s no denying that the GLA45 AMG is a shapely car. From the rear, the large hips are even more accentuated by the tapered roof pillars. If we were to lend a guess as to what the future may hold, there’s a high probability NWAS GLA will be seeing a set of custom flares & spacers to widen things up even more, along with an under tray & skid plate for those “special stage” moments when we stumble upon a nice stretch of dirt.
In closing, we could have got a Subaru, but the GLA45 seems fully capable of becoming the rally-ready daily driver of our dreams. Stay tuned for the next stage of the build, and be sure to hit us up if you want to be a part of making this crazy project come to fruition. You never know where it may turn up next.