Navigating Suburbia in the Hot Rod 2024 Mercedes-AMG GLA 35

There’s not really a mouse in the house, but what is that racket?

Dan Carney, Senior Editor

May 22, 2024

2 Min Read
The Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 dominates a frozen Swedish lake.
The Mercedes-AMG GLA 35 dominates a frozen Swedish lake.Mercedes-AMG

At a Glance

  • $48,600 base price
  • 302 horsepower
  • 295 lb.-ft.

When Mercedes launched the AMG GLA 35, a sporty compact crossover SUV, they underscored the vehicle’s performance potential by releasing a video of the company’s pro drivers drifting the car around a frozen lake in Sweden.

Alas, I didn’t have such an opportunity to sample the car’s 302 horsepower from its turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Instead, I experienced the GLA 35’s 8-speed dual-clutch transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive system tooling around suburbia for a week. It rockets to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds and achieves a top speed of 155 mph.

My impression is that it is a little hard-edged for everyday suburban life, with its grumbly exhaust, firm sport seats, and stiff suspension.

In my neighborhood, the GLA 35 felt out of its element, and this feeling was reinforced by a frequent noise from the rear hatch area that sounded like nothing so much as mice rummaging around the back. It wasn’t mice, of course.

Like many modern vehicles, the GLA 35 has a back-up camera. It uses this camera to contribute the rear portion of the surround view that is available on the center infotainment display at low speeds, as when parking.


Most cars use a fixed rear camera to provide this view. Others might hide the camera beneath the large central badge that has long been a signature trait of German cars and is now a required part of the uniform for cars from all over the world. For those, the badge tilts outward and the camera pops out into position when needed.

Related:Mercedes Puts Apollo Robot to Work

Mercedes chose not to use either of these solutions with the GLA 35. Instead, the camera lives tucked well up beneath the rear license plate cutout’s overhang. From here, the camera has a long way to travel when extending into position, causing it to create an audible commotion in the process.

Additionally, because of the time it takes for the camera to hit its marks, Mercedes seems to have set a fairly high speed in the neighborhood of 20 mph as the threshold that determines when the camera deploys and when it retracts. Driving through my neighborhood, with its 25-mph speed limit and periodic speed bumps and stop signs, the GLA crosses and recrosses this threshold repeatedly on every single departure from home or return.

That means the not-really-mice noise happens about a half-dozen times in each direction. If a stiffly sprung, firmly upholstered, hot-rod 4-cylinder already seemed like an unexpected direction for a prestigious luxury brand, one that punishes the driver with this constant noise is even more surprising. Surely there are better solutions.

Related:The Mercedes Update from Google Maps Adds a Huge Amount of Data

I’m sure the frozen-lake drivers in Sweden didn’t notice.

About the Author(s)

Dan Carney

Senior Editor, Design News

Dan’s coverage of the auto industry over three decades has taken him to the racetracks, automotive engineering centers, vehicle simulators, wind tunnels, and crash-test labs of the world.

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