Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review

Find out more about the Mercedes-Benz A Class in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

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  • Pros
  • Attractive looks
  • Range of efficient engines
  • Desirable badge
  • Cons
  • Firm ride and dull handling
  • Expensive when compared with rivals
  • Gruff diesel engines
  • MPG
    43 - 68
  • CO2
    108 - 148 g/km
History

Mercedes-Benz first released its popular A-Class hatchback back in 1997. Twenty years later, the C-segment car is now in its third generation.

The A-Class sits in the premium segment of the hatchback market, going up against rivals such as the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and the Volkswagen Golf.

As far as appearances go, the third-generation A-Class is a far cry from its predecessors. Where the earlier models were tall and rather boxy-looking things, the new model is far sleeker and much more attractive.

Mercedes offers the A-Class with a range of both petrol and diesel engines, although the diesel units are by far and away the most popular in the line-up thanks to their punchy performance and superior economy. Customers after a high-performance A-Class will find the 376bhp, four-wheel-drive Mercedes-AMG A 45 a particularly appealing option.

Latest model

The current generation A-Class was brought to market in 2012, although it was subject to a mid-life refresh in 2015. With the new model, Mercedes-Benz claimed the A-Class was now both sportier, and comfier than before.

The A-Class is available with a selection of diesel and petrol engines, and Mercedes’ 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system is also an option. Depending on the model, the A-Class is available with a six-speed manual, or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

As far as performance goes, the A-Class really does cover a wide range of numbers. The least powerful engine in the line-up is the 1.6-litre, 101bhp four-cylinder petrol found in the A 160, while the A 45 AMG features the flagship 2.0-litre, 376bhp four-cylinder petrol.

With such a wide range in performance, the A-Class’ fuel economy is also similarly spread. The most efficient model is the diesel-powered A 180d, which can manage a combined fuel consumption figure of 80.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 89g/km.

Obviously, the Mercedes-AMG A 45 sits at the other end of the scale, managing just 40.9mpg on the combined cycle, while CO2 emissions stand at 162g/km.

Unlike its rivals in this segment, Mercedes-Benz only offers the A-Class in five-door configuration. The BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, on the the other hand, can both be bought as three-doors.

Mercedes-Benz offers the A-Class in a number of different trim levels: SE, Sport, AMG Line, WhiteArt Edition, 250 AMG, 250 AMG WhiteArt Edition and AMG A 45.

Value for money

The pick of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class range would likely be the Sport-specification models, thanks to their combination of standard equipment and relatively affordable price tag. Sport models start at £21,665 for the A 160, and include equipment such as 17-inch alloys, climate control, an eight-inch media display screen and a reversing camera.

If you don’t mind giving up features such as 17-inch alloys or the larger eight-inch media display, the entry-level SE model might make more sense. Prices start at £20,670 and includes standard features as a reversing camera, seven-inch media display and 16-inch alloys.

AMG-Line models start at £22,960 and add aesthetic tweaks that make the A-Class appear sportier and more aggressive. These include 18-inch AMG alloys, AMG bodystyling and lowered comfort suspension. The cabin gains carbon-fibre-look trim, sports seats and AMG floor mats.

The top-flight Mercedes-AMG features a wealth of standard equipment, such as satellite navigation, DAB radio, an eight-inch media display and heated front seats – although it does cost from £41,830.

While Mercedes-Benz is fairly generous with the level of standard equipment, some features such as DAB radio are only available as an optional extra on all models other than the flagship A 45 AMG. This seems strange considering the A-Class’ rivals tend to feature this as standard.

Looks and image

Those in the market for a good-looking, premium hatchback will likely find the Mercedes-Benz A-Class an attractive proposition. Next to the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, the A-Class looks like a more premium product.

Styling-wise, the latest A-Class is a dramatic departure from its two predecessors. While the first- and second-generation models were rather tall, boxy, almost MPV-shaped cars, the current A-Class is a handsome and fairly sporty-looking thing.

This certainly rings true for the A 45 AMG. With flared wheel-arches, aggressive AMG body styling, lowered sports suspension and quad-tailpipes, this hyper hatchback will appeal to those who want to shout about the fact they are driving a serious piece of kit.

As with most Mercedes vehicles, the three-pointed star badge on the front grille carries a large amount of prestige, and will certainly look the part when parked up in those more fashionable parts of town.

For the most part, the A-Class’ interior does justice to the Mercedes-Benz badge on the front of the car. It’s a premium place to be, thanks to standard Artico leather seats, and smart-looking circular air vents.

A multitude of buttons that control the CD changer could make the centre of the dash look rather busy, but thanks to their logical and ordered layout this is minimised. The centre console houses the rotary control for the infotainment system.

The only niggles with the A-Class’ interior is the fact that build quality doesn’t quite feel as up to scratch as it does on rivals like the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf. While the iPad-style media screen might sound good in theory, to look at it gives the impression that it was fitted to the dash as an afterthought.

Space and practicality

The front of the A-Class is easily the most desirable part of the car to sit as a passenger. There is plenty of headroom, and the seats are comfortable, supportive and easily adjustable. The only mark against the A-Class with regards to room in the front is the fact that it is rather narrow, meaning you can feel hemmed in at times.

Unfortunately, the A-Class is let down by a lack of space in the back. While that sloping roof line might look the part, it does cut into rear headroom, meaning taller passengers will find the back of the car a rather uncomfortable place to sit on longer journeys.

The shape of the A-Class’ boot doesn’t do the car any favours in terms of practicality, either. At 341 litres, it isn’t exactly capacious, and because of a rather narrow opening, loading large bulky items into the back of the car can be a bit of a challenge. Folding the rear seats down will increase the A-Class’ storage capacity to 1,157 litres.

What’s under the bonnet?

Mercedes offers the A-Class with a range of petrol and diesel engines.

The petrol line-up consists of a 1.6-litre, four-cylinder unit as well as a 2.0-litre four-cylinder lump. The 1.6-litre engine is available with 101bhp, 120bhp, or 154bhp. The larger 2.0-litre petrol power plant comes with 215bhp in the A 250 AMG, and 376bhp in the flagship Mercedes-AMG A 45.

As far as diesel engines go, there is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder with 108bhp, and a 2.1-litre four-cylinder with either 134bhp or 175bhp.

Running costs

Owing to the rather extensive range of engines available with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, running costs are going to be fairly wide ranging.

Those wanting an A-Class that will perform well in terms of outright fuel economy will likely want to opt for the A 180d, as it features the most frugal 1.5-litre diesel engine. In entry-level SE trim, this car can achieve a combined fuel economy figure of 80.7mpg.

Customers who are after a performace-orientated A-Class should be prepared for higher running costs. The A 250 AMG – a tamer version of the full-fat A 45 AMG – with its 215bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine can manage a combined fuel consumption figure of 41.5mpg, or 42.2mpg with 4MATIC four-wheel drive.

The Mercedes-AMG A 45 uses the same 2.0-litre petrol engine as the A 250 AMG, although it has been tuned to produce 376bhp. Mercedes claims this car can manage a combined fuel consumption figure of 40.9mpg. Real-world driving will likely produce a figure a lot lower than this, however.

 

Things to look out for

All Mercedes-Benz A-Class models come with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty as standard. This will cover customers against any manufacturing or material defects for that time period.

It also pays to note that while the A-Class’ service intervals are staggered at one every 12 months or 15,000 miles depending on what occurs first, the A 45 AMG’s service intervals are more frequent.

Those in the market for a second-generation A-Class should be wary of the fact that they have a reputation for being incredibly unreliable. For this reason, any vehicle viewed should be subjected to a thorough check before it is purchased.

Rivals

 

The obvious rivals for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class are the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. That said, the hugely successful Volkswagen Golf, as well as the Alfa Romeo Giulietta could also be considered when searching for a car in this market segment.

As far as prices go, the A-Class compares well to its rivals, although can’t quite compare with the likes of the BMW or the Audi in terms of how well it drives.

The barnstorming Mercedes-AMG A 45 is rivalled by the likes of the Audi RS3 and Volkswagen Golf R. BMW does make a hot 1 Series – the M135i –  although it isn’t quite in the same league as the A 45.

As far as residual values go, the third-generation A-Class performs rather well. As an example, an A 200d model in Sport specification currently retails for £25,235 new, with prices on the used market sitting around the £17,000 mark for a low-mileage model.

Which A Class to Pick

Trims Explained

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

SE

SE specification represents the entry point to the A-Class range and will cater to buyers who want a stylish premium hatch without the crippling price tag.

Prices start from £20,670

Sport

Sport specification adds in a few extra standard features as well as a few styling tweaks such as 17-inch alloys and twin tailpipes to make the A-Class look sportier.

Prices start from £21,665

AMG Line

AMG Line models gain an even more powerful look that is intended to replicate the flagship A 45 AMG.

These include larger wheels, lowered suspension and AMG bodystyling.

WhiteArt Edition

WhiteArt Edition cars gain features such as striking bonnet and roof stripes, 18-inch AMG alloys and satellite navigation as standard.

£25,850

250 AMG

The 250 AMG features the same 2.0-litre engine as the A 45 AMG, although in this car it has been detuned to produce 215bhp.

Prices start from £30,180

Mercedes-AMG

The flagship Mercedes-AMG A 45 comes with all the bells and whistles as standard, aggressive styling and blistering performance.

Price start from £41,830

Summary

  1. The diesel engines are getting rather dated now
  2. Mercedes only offers the A-Class as a five-door
  3. Customers will be set back anywhere from £20,670 to upwards of £48,315
  4. Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system is available as an option
  5. Compares well with its rivals in terms of price
  6. A 45 AMG is one of the quickest hot-hatches currently on the market
  7. Second-generation A-Class was infamously unreliable
  8. A new A-Class comes with a three-year warranty as standard
  9. Handsome exterior
  10. Economical range of diesel engines