Mercedes A-Class Review
The Mercedes A-Class is one of the most upmarket, high-tech small cars on sale, but some more old-fashioned alternatives are more affordable and better to drive.
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If you’re wowed more by a car’s interior than its cornering ability, you’ll love the Mercedes A-Class. It has not only the most visually impressive cabins of any car of its type but gives plenty of bigger ones a run for their money too. It’s so impressive, in fact, that the new A-Class won the Game Changer Award at the 2018 carwow awards.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that this entry-level Mercedes is bargain basement to look at. Slim headlights and a whopping great grille with a huge Mercedes emblem mean this isn’t likely to be mistaken for a run-of-the-mill family hatchback at the local supermarket.
And it’s more Harrods than Homebase inside, too. The Mercedes A-Class’ cabin looks and feels plusher than anything you’ll find in an Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series, and completely out-classes the likes of the more affordable Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus.
The two free-standing digital displays merge almost seamlessly to create a vast widescreen which – along with some fabulous brushed metal turbine-like air vents and 64-colour mood lighting – makes sitting in the Mercedes A-Class feel a little like piloting a spaceship. The screens are easy to use and customisable, so you can prioritise exactly the information you want without any annoying distractions.
Mercedes had enough energy left after this high-tech workout to make sure the A-Class is still practical and easy to live with, too. Unlike the rather cramped old model, this new Mercedes A-Class has enough space in both the front and rear seats for tall adults to get comfortable. The larger side windows mean the back seats don’t feel anywhere near as claustrophobic, either.
The new Mercedes A-Class is packed with enough futuristic features to make it a technophobe’s worst nightmare, but an absolute dream for the rest of us.
That being said, a VW Golf is still slightly roomier and has a bigger boot that’s easier to load. The Mercedes A-Class’ boot opening isn’t particularly wide and a large boot lip makes lifting in heavy items a touch tricky.
Thankfully, there’s nothing tricky about driving the Mercedes A-Class. Its suspension does a good job ironing out bumps at slow speeds, and you’ll hear barely any wind or tyre noise on the motorway, making long-distances slogs more relaxing than in most small family cars.
The Mercedes A-Class’ range of economical engines make equally light work of inner-city traffic and long motorway jaunts, but whichever engine and gearbox you choose, you’ll find the A-Class simply isn’t as much fun to drive as a Ford Focus. It’s a small criticism, but on a twisting country road, the staid and sensible Mercedes never feels keen to slap a great big grin on your face like the much sportier Ford.
This certainly shouldn’t put you off shortlisting the new Mercedes A-Class, however – it’s still a very impressive family hatchback that, for the first time, feels like a genuine Mercedes thanks to some seriously upmarket in-car tech.
For more in-depth analysis of the Mercedes A-Class, read the interior, practicality, driving and specifications of our review over the following pages. You can also see how much you could save by checking out our Mercedes A-Class deals.
If you’ve not quite made up your mind yet, see how the Mercedes A-Class compares with its likely alternatives – the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and the VW Golf – in our video review.
Common Mercedes A-Class questions:
What is a Mercedes A-Class?
The Mercedes A-Class is an upmarket five-door family hatchback. It’s similar to cars like the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Volkswagen Golf.
Which is the best Mercedes A-Class?
The best A-Class depends on what you need it for. If you regularly cover long distances on the motorway then a diesel model will be the best bet – such as the A 180d or A 200d. If your trips are often short and in town, you’ll want a petrol like the A 180 or A 200. For those who want much more performance, there are the AMG models called the 35 and 45.
Is the Mercedes A-Class rear-wheel drive?
No, the Mercedes A-Class is front-wheel drive. However, you can also have all-wheel-drive with the A 220 petrol and AMG 35 and 45 models.
Do Mercedes A-Class wing mirrors fold?
Yes, you can manually fold them as standard. However, if you want electrically-folding mirrors, you’ll need to add Mercedes’ Executive Equipment Line to SE Sport and AMG Line models.
The Mercedes A-Class has enough room for four people and their luggage, but it’s still not as big or as practical as a Volkswagen Golf.
It’s great to see that Mercedes has listened to some of the criticism of the old A-Class and made this model much more spacious and practical
This version of the Mercedes A-Class is longer and wider than the old model, and the result is more room inside for passengers and their luggage.
True, even then, this isn’t the biggest car of its size, but it’s big enough. There’s plenty of room in the front and – unlike the old model – in the back, too. The only disappointment you might have is that the rear windows are quite small, which means that the cabin can be a little dark back there.
Even so, you’ll have no problem fitting in four adults, and there are even some handy places for the rear-seat passengers to rest their elbows – although a fold-down armrest is only available as part of the optional Premium equipment package, which can only be added to Sport and AMG Line models.
The doors don’t open that wide, so it’s not too easy to maneuver a child seat into place. But the Isofix points are easy to get to.
It’s not just passengers who are well catered for in the Mercedes A-Class, you also get plenty of places to stash your things. There’s an illuminated glovebox and decent door bins, for a start, as well as two cup holders in the centre console, ahead of the touchpad.
Underneath the central armrest in the front, there’s also lots of stowage, while there are luggage nets on the backs of both front seats.
You can also get cup holders for your rear-seat passengers, but to do that you need to buy the optional Premium package. This includes the rear armrest that houses the cup-holders, but you can’t get it on a car with the basic SE trim.
Just as Mercedes has created more room for passengers in this new A-Class, it has also created more luggage space. The boot is bigger than in the previous car (although it’s still a little smaller than the Volkswagen Golf’s) and very easy to load and unload.
On every model, the rear seats are split 60/40, and it’s easy to drop them down. Better still, when they’re folded down, they sit nice and flat to the floor, meaning it’s easy to slide in larger items
The Mercedes A-Class is perfectly decent to drive, but you don’t have to try too hard to find alternatives that are better
Yes, the Golf is a little better to drive, but to be second best to the VW is no bad thing. In fact, the A-Class is a very decent car to get around in
The Mercedes A-Class comes with a choice of one diesel and two petrol engines, all with seven-speed automatic transmissions. At the top of the range is the A 250 petrol, which is effectively a hot hatch, as it’s capable of hitting 62mph in just over six seconds. Trouble is, it doesn’t sound that great, although the claimed economy of 45.6mpg is pretty good, considering how fast it can go.
Of the other two options, the A200 petrol is still pretty quick, hitting 62mph in 8.0 seconds, and it’s more than nippy enough for getting around town. Even if you spend most of your time out of town, it’ll still do the job, while the claimed economy of more than 50mpg is quite an attraction.
The final option is the A 180d, the only diesel engine in the range and the only model to come with the most basic SE trim. That makes it the cheapest option to buy and run, and it’s well worth considering if your biggest concerns are financial.
You should be able to see fuel economy in the 50s in everyday use, if not as much as the near-70mpg that the official figures suggest. Only trouble is, there’s a price to pay: it’s not all that quick.
If you’re familiar with the old Mercedes A-Class, you’ll be delighted to know that not only is this model very quiet at motorway speeds, it’s also much more comfortable over the bumps. However, it’s not perfect, as some bigger bumps send a bit of a jolt through the cabin and you can hear some noise in the cabin when you drive over bigger potholes and drain covers.
If you find yourself on a twisty road, there’s no shortage of grip and the steering lets you position the car just where you want it. However, it’s not all good news. Drive a Volkswagen Golf, for instance, and you feel more involved, more in tune with what’s going on. Admittedly, the Mercedes isn’t bad, but compared to driving the Volkswagen, it feels like running in someone else’s shoes.
Overall, though, that’s nit-picking, and in every way the new Mercedes A-Class is more than adequate to drive. It’s also very safe, with a longer list of safety-assist systems than you’ll find on either the BMW 1 Series or Audi A3 Sportback.
The Mercedes A-Class is yet to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP, but we’d expect a very good score, as every car comes with Active Brake Assist (which will automatically apply the brakes in an emergency), seven airbags and the Attention Assist system.
The Mercedes A-Class interior is an amazing piece of design, but not only does it all work, it’s all very easy to use. It doesn’t come cheap, though