£19,990 - £35,425 Price range
41 - 80 MPG
While the old Mercedes A-Class had a clever design, with an engine under the floor to maximise passenger space, this new model has a conventional layout to match rival premium hatchbacks such as the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf.
Buy it via carwow and you can save an average of £3,400.
Just like its competitors, the A-Class looks and feels like a premium product. It’s stylish inside, too. Occupants will spot the large 5.8-inch infotainment display screen and the sporty circular air vents. Plastic quality, on the whole, is good, although there are more cheap-feeling pieces of trim than you’ll get in an Audi A3.
A sloping roof means headroom in the back is tighter for rear-seat adults than it would be in the A3 and the boot is also smaller.
The Mercedes handles corners with very little body lean, but it’s not as fun to drive as the BMW 1 Series. Buyers get a decent range of models from the extremely frugal A180 d diesel to the ferociously fast A45 AMG petrol, which comes with four-wheel drive for fantastic all-weather grip.
All A-Class models come fitted as standard with 16-inch alloy wheels, leather interior and air-conditioning.
A new model has been spotted testing, get full details with our Mercedes A-Class price, specs and release date article.
Cheapest to buy: A180 SE petrol
Cheapest to run: A180 CDI SE diesel
Fastest model: A45 AMG
Most popular: A180 SE petrol
The A-Class’s plush cabin is largely befitting for a modern-day Mercedes and although there are a few dodgy plastics used on lower-specification models the general material quality is good. Move up the range and it becomes classier if not necessarily as well put together or ergonomically designed as its Audi A3 rival. A 2015 facelift added to the infotainment system the ability to mirror your smartphone’s screen.
Mercedes A-Class passenger space
Tall passengers will find accessing the back seat trickier than in the Audi A3, which has wider-opening rear doors and the Mercedes’ small rear windows make it feel quite claustrophobic.
Mercedes A-Class boot space
The Mercedes A-Class 340 litre boot is quite small for the class – an Audi A3’s boot has a 365-litre capacity, while a Golf’s is 380 litres in size and the BMW 1 Series has 360-litres. A small opening and a high lip mean that loading heavy items into the A-Class is also quite tricky, although capacity jumps to a useful 1,157 litres with the rear seats folded down.
Work out if the A-Class will fit into your lifestyle with our guide to its internal and external dimensions.
Unless you choose a model with AMG suspension, the A-Class leans a little bit in corners and its steering doesn’t feel as direct as the BMW 1 Series’. Unlike the BMW, the Mercedes is front-wheel drive and as a result it loses grip quicker than the 1 Series does in corners.
While opting for the stiffer AMG suspension solves the problem of body lean in curves, it also amplifies bumps in the road, making the Mercedes less comfortable than its rivals. To address that after a 2015 facelift the A-Class can be specified with optional adaptive dampers. They can be set in two modes – Sport and Comfort, but their adaptive nature means they constantly adjust to the way the A-Class is driven. Testers highly recommend this optional extra because it makes the A-Class much more comfortable than before.
Around town the A-Class’ small rear window makes it tricky to reverse park, although you get a rear view camera as standard. Diesel models are also noisy at high revs, although the Mercedes is a quiet cruiser once you get up to speed on the motorway.
Mercedes offers the A-Class with a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, although there’s no hybrid option that you do get in the Audi A3. After a 2015 facelift the already very good seven-speed DSG gearbox has been revised for quicker gearshifts and is one of the best automatic gearboxes in its class.
Mercedes A-Class diesel engines
The pick of the diesel range is the 2.1-litre 134hp engine fitted to the A200 d. As with the best diesels it combines strong performance with excellent fuel economy. Fitted with the company’s seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox, it can hurtle from 0-62mph in just 8.9 seconds (quicker than its rivals from BMW and Audi), but still returns fuel economy of 70mpg.
The most powerful diesel in the form of the A220d is the same 2.1-litre engine, but with a bit more power. 178hp and a 0-62mph time of 7,5 seconds is impressive, but even more impressive will be the low running costs – £20 yearly road tax and claimed fuel economy of 67.3mpg.
The cheaper 1.6-litre A180 d will return more than 79mpg, but with that frugality comes a significant drop in performance. The upside is that has free road tax thanks to it’s sub 90g/km CO2 emissions.
Mercedes A-Class petrol engines
By far and away the quickest Mercedes A-Class on sale is the A45 AMG 4Matic. With 380hp and four-wheel drive, its 0-62mph time of 4.2 seconds means the Mercedes can embarrass a Porsche 911 sports car off the lights, but it’ll cost a lot to run.
Aside from the A45, testers seem to agree that the A-Class’ petrol engines fall short of the best in class – never feeling as quick as they are on paper. The basic A180 is the cheapest model in the A-Class range, though, and should be affordable to run thanks to fuel economy of 65.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 127g/km for road tax of £110 a year.
For those who want a bit more performance, but can’t afford the A45, there is the A250 AMG. It uses a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine and produces 218hp, which is enough for a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds. That is faster than most performance hatchbacks from Ford, Honda or Renault.
The duo of critics who have tested this engine agree that the 1.8 diesel is a smooth and refined engine that, despite the car’s swoopy and sporting bodywork, suits the car’s more relaxed traits really well. It’s also quite an efficient motor, with claimed figures of 65mpg and the 114g/km of CO2 output meaning this particular model only costs £30 a year to tax.
However, opinion over whether or not this is the engine to go for was mixed – one critic thought the wide power and torque bands made the car feel quicker than the 9.3 second sprint to 60mph suggested, whilst the other reckoned it was a bit sluggish for his tastes. There was also a bit of a debate as to whether the A180 is the one to go for, as it’s far cheaper to buy and run yet isn’t drastically slower than the A200.
Still, it’s still a good all-round engine that seems to combine the poke of the A220 with the efficiency of the A180. As a result, if you’re in the market for a premium hatchback and are won over by the Mercedes, it’s worth considering this A200 model.
With 208hp on tap, the most potent A-Class currently on sale certainly isn’t a slouch, with a claimed 0-60 time of 6.6 seconds and a top speed of 150mph. That said, even though there’s quite a lot of power going through the front wheels, it also steers very well, with the reviews stating the turn-in is sharp and precise. Fuel economy also isn’t bad for a car of this calibre, with claims of 46mpg being possible.
There were, though, reports of a few issues with the A250, with the main one being the 7-speed DCT gearbox – both critics state that, even in manual mode, the ‘box is slow to respond and sluggish to kick-down when it’s left to its own devices once you floor the throttle. The quality ride was also a recurrent complaint, though both testers agree that body control is very good, especially if you opt for the ‘Engineered by AMG’ pack, which brings with it uprated suspension components.
All in all, the A250 is a likeable performance hatchback that offers the pace of a VW Golf GTI whilst costing noticeably less to buy and run and flaunting a more desirable badge on the bonnet. However, there are other cars in this sector that are worthy of your attention and, if it’s real performance you’re after, you may want to bide your time and save up for the A45 AMG.
Mercedes makes the car even safer by also fitting attention assist as standard. It monitors the driver’s alertness and emits an audible warning if they are thought to be falling asleep at the wheel. Active cruise control (£880) and side airbags for rear-seat passengers (£390) are on the options list.
Basic SE models comes with class-average levels of equipment including alloy wheels, climate control and leather seats. DAB digital radio – offered as standard in the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 – is £400 extra, however.
Go for the Sport Edition model and you get levels of standard kit more befitting of the Mercedes badge, including sat-nav, cruise control, keyless go and a full-leather interior.
Those who think that the Sport edition needs a sporty AMG touch can spec up to the AMG Night Edition that adds 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, the striking diamond radiator grille, leather sport seats, carbon-look trim and reversing camera.
All Mercedes models come with a three-year/unlimited-mileage warranty that could well prove appealing to anyone covering a huge annual mileage. That matches the warranty offered with the BMW 1 Series and is better than the three-year/60,000-mile cover that comes as standard with the Audi A3.
If you are looking for the feel of a Mercedes in practical hatchback body shape then the A-Class delivers thanks to its smart looks and stylish interior. Its diesel engines are cheap to run and the car is easy to drive. Its also safe and offered with good levels of standard equipment.
However, it fails to make a convincing case for itself when compared with rivals: a BMW 1 Series is more fun to drive, while the Audi A3 feels better built inside, offers more rear legroom and a bigger boot.
We wouldn’t blame anyone for choosing the A-Class, but there are more accomplished cars available for the same money.