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Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review

The Mercedes A-Class is a premium family hatchback that offers a great driving experience, state-of-the-art technology and strong build quality

£16,849
Average Price
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4
Out of 5

Pros

  • Excellent cabin quality
  • Fantastic infotainment system
  • Good selection of engines

Cons

  • Firm ride
  • Lacklustre entry-level petrol engine
  • Expensive
  • MPG

    33 - 74

  • CO2

    31 - 192 g/km

History

The Mercedes A-Class first arrived in the UK over 20 years ago and was a very different proposition to the latest model on sale today. It started life as what could only be described as a squashed MPV, with a tall body and lofty driving position, it was all very clever but a million miles away from its closest rival at the time, the Audi A3.

But as the years have rolled on, so has the design direction, and now this latest generation is more in-line with the competition – taking a more traditional hatchback shape with more sporty driving characteristics.

Of course, the one thing you’d expect from any car with a three-pointed star on the bonnet is a premium feel, and that’s one area that’s massively improved over the years. None more so than with this latest model, which is now in its fourth generation.

Latest model

This fourth-generation model was launched in 2018 and right from the start you could tell Mercedes meant business. The looks were sharper on the outside with more angular headlamps and aggressive daytime running lights, but the biggest step forward was in the cabin which has become the new benchmark. The layout and perceived quality really is superb, and the infotainment system is simple to use and one of the best systems on the market at the moment.

The A-Class is the smallest car Mercedes makes, and there’s no better entry level model to any small family hatchback. It’s available as a five-door hatchback or four-door saloon, so if you want a sporty looking three door, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Even the hardcore AMG version sticks with the five-door layout.

The A-Class was a car the Mercedes simply had to get right, after all, it’s their biggest selling model in the range which, when you think about it, just shows how good it must be alongside other well-established models like the C-Class and E-Class.

Value for money

Prices for the A-Class start at £23,755 and equipment is pretty limited, with base spec SE models coming with small alloy wheels, air conditioning and cruise control. We’d recommend opting for the Sport trim which offers more kit including dual-zone climate control, more styling features and larger alloy wheels. Prices for the Sport trim start at £25,255.

If you’re really looking for thrills though, then the Mercedes-AMG A35 is available from £38,360 and is well equipped with kit including satellite navigation, DAB radio and heated front seats. 

While used prices remain firm, there are good discounts to be had by looking at nearly-new examples. Prices for an 18-month old car start from around £15,500, which will buy an A180d version in mid-spec Sport trim. Stylish AMG Line models are the most desirable, with these costing from around £18,000 for an example of the same age.

Looks and image

This latest generation model really does look like a car priced considerably more than it actually is. It’s a much more mature proposition, taking on a traditional hatchback format keeping it in line with competition like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, and cheaper rivals like the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.

Whereas with previous versions, you could see where some cost-cutting had been made, and you could forgive it for that bearing in mind the kit levels and of course that premium badge on the front, this latest version is the full package with even basic models looking as sharp on the outside as they do inside.

The exterior standout features include those headlamps with daytime LED running lights, and the trademark Mercedes open-mouth grille, a sloping roof to enhance the hatchbacks sporty intent, stylish alloy wheels and LED taillights.

It’s inside where you’ll be most impressed though. The model is a huge leap forward over the cabin in the previous model, in fact, it’s better than all of the competition too. The design looks like nothing else in its class, stylishly laid out with good quality, soft touch materials and tech that’s state of the art and easy to use, something which seems to be a rare combination in this class.

At the top of the centre console sits an optional 10.25-inch infotainment system which flows continuously into dials in front of the driver showing driving information and data. The screen in the middle of the dash shows all the usual features like DAB radio, satellite navigation and car settings. This is controlled via a touchscreen input or by a mousepad-like controller between the two front seats. Navigating your way through the screen menus is so much easier that a lot of other systems out there. 

Speaking of navigation, the sat nav is available with cool augmented reality graphics. This displays a forward view camera with graphics overlaid, so there’s no confusion about where or when you need to turn. It really is a great idea and superbly executed.

Space and practicality

With such a well put together cabin, it would be a real shame if it wasn’t backed up by good levels of space and practicality. You’ll be pleased to hear that it is though. There’s plenty of seat and steering wheel adjustment – meaning getting the right driving position won’t be a problem. Passengers in the back may find it a little claustrophobic because of the high windows and limited legroom, but there is more head and shoulder room than the previous model.

The boot on the previous model wasn’t the most practical, and it was oddly shaped and not as big as its rivals. The latest version rectifies this though, as it’s slightly wider, meaning with the rear seats up it offers 370 litres of space, expanding to 1,210 litres with them folded down.

What’s under the bonnet?

Mercedes offers the A-Class with a range of petrol and diesel engines as well as a plug-in hybrid too.  

Starting with petrol power, the range starts with the 134bhp A180 which is a little lacklustre when it comes to performance, so we’d be more inclined to opt for the more powerful 161bhp A200, which offers the best blend of performance and economy. Both the A180 and A200 use a turbocharged1.3-litre engine.  If you want the push the performance just that little bit further, then the A250 – which gets a 221bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine is great fun and capable of doing the 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds.

If you’re looking at low running costs though, the A250e is well worth considering. It uses the same 1.3-litre petrol engine from the A200 but works with an electric motor which means it offers a grand total of 215bhp. Because it’s a plug-in hybrid it will offer a claimed 40 miles of electric charge alone.  

Diesel-wise, there’s little reason to look beyond the 114bhp A180d as it offers a good power spread right through the rev range, which means it’s just as capable on a country lane as it is on a motorway. If you want more oomph, though, then the A200d and A250d are great options, and produce 148bhp and 187bhp respectively from their 2.0-litre engines.  

If you want some real thrills, then try A35 AMG hot hatch, which pumps out 302bhp and 400NM of torque – meaning a 0-60mph time of under five seconds is possible and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. Power is driven through all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. A flagship A45 hot hatch is also available with a monstrous 415bhp – making it the most powerful hot hatch on sale today.

Six-speed gearboxes are supplied on A180, A180d and A200 models, with the rest coming with a seven- or eight-speed automatic transmission.

Running costs

There’s no question the diesel versions offer the best economy, with the A180d averaging around 62.8mpg and emissions of 117g/km of CO2. But the more powerful A200d or A220d versions offer similar mpg – returning 58.9mpg and 57.7mpg respectively.

Both versions of the 1.3-litre petrol in the A180 and A200 offer good fuel economy figures and emissions, averaging close to 50mpg and emissions of close around 134g/km of CO2. There’s a huge appeal to the plug-in hybrid version which promises around 256mpg and emits just 25g/km of CO2. It’s good news for business car users who’ll see big savings on company car tax.

Things to look out for

All Mercedes-Benz A-Class models come with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty as standard, this should cover most of the costs should there be any issues over that time period.

While there are no major reliability concerns, servicing are repairs are likely to be more expensive than a mainstream manufacturer, which is something worth factoring into ownership.

Rivals 

The two big rivals for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class are the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. There are other competitors – such as the Volkswagen Golf and Alfa Romeo Giulietta – but if you’re looking for a family hatch with a prestige badge you won’t go too far wrong with the Mercedes.

You can go crazy on the Volkswagen Golf options list and get a better equipped package, which also rides slightly more comfortably. If you’re looking for a sportier family hatch, then the BMW 1 Series offers more thrills for similar bucks, too.

Depreciation

The A-Class may not be cheap to buy new or insure, but the positives are it holds its value well, retaining around 47% of its value over three years. The pick of the range though is the A250e model though with hangs onto just over half of its value over the same period – due to the desirability of plug-in hybrid models.

Which A Class to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

A180 SE 5dr

Most MPG

A180d SE 5dr Auto

Fastest Model (0-60)

A45 S 4Matic+ 5dr Auto Amg

Trims Explained

Including the range-topping A 45 AMG, the A-Class has eight trim levels, including:

‘SE’

The SE specification is the entry-level specification and designed for anyone looking for a practical family hatchback with a premium badge on the bonnet. It features 16-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, heated front seats, cruise control and keyless go. You also get LED running lights, a seven-inch digital instrument cluster, a seven-inch touchscreen and seven-inch digital dials, a reversing camera and a driver attention monitoring system.

Priced from £23,755

‘Sport’

Sport model adds larger 17-inch alloy-wheels and LED headlights, plus inside there’s a carbon fibre detailing and additional chrome styling.

Priced from £25,255

‘AMG Sport Executive’

In addition to Sport, this features self-parking functionality, a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen, wireless phone charging and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration.

Priced from £26,755

‘AMG Line’

Needless to say, any model with AMG on it will have sporty undertones. AMG line adds sporty AMG body kit, 18-inch alloys, part-leather seats and flat-bottomed steering wheel in addition to the Sport grade.

Priced from £26,755

‘AMG Line Executive’

Like Sport Executive, this grade adds self-parking functionality, smartphone mirroring and a larger 10.25-inch touchscreen.

Priced from £28,255

‘AMG Line Premium’

This high-spec grade comes with 64-colour ambient interior lighting, a larger 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and an upgraded sound system. You also get the augmented satellite navigation system, along with cool aluminium interior elements.

Priced from £29,755

‘AMG Line Premium Plus’

This range-topping model adds clever multibeam LED headlights, along with a panoramic glass sunroof.

Priced from £31,255

Summary

  1. Good levels of practicality
  2. Stylish looks
  3. Class-leading interior
  4. Augmented reality satellite navigation
  5. Intuitive infotainment system
  6. Low running costs
  7. Uninspired drive
  8. Firm ride
  9. Holds its value well
  10. Lots of standard equipment

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