Mercedes A-Class review
If you want a high-tech, posh family hatchback then the Mercedes A-Class should be on your shortlist – just be prepared to pay for that extra luxury
What's not so good
Find out more about the Mercedes A-Class
If you’re after a small(ish) car that promises big-money levels of tech and luxury but don’t want to pay, well, big money to get it, then allow us to introduce you to the Mercedes A Class.
Put simply, it’s a posh family hatchback that goes up against the likes of the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, as well as cheaper alternatives such as the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
True, it’s the most affordable new Mercedes on the market, but that doesn’t mean it skimps on the toys or prestige appeal that you’ll find in the firm’s bigger cars.
For starters, it’s a rather handsome-looking thing. Its sharp, narrow headlights, large grille and sculpted bodywork combine to lend it an appearance that’s both subtly sporty and obviously upmarket. Compared with the previous A-Class, this is a far more convincing show of just how smart a small Mercedes can be – and it’s a similar story on the inside too.
Even next to the likes of the latest BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, the Mercedes A-Class’ cabin looks impressively classy. Its stepped dashtop is crowned by two high-resolution digital screens, which merge together to form an almost seamless widescreen display. These are easy to configure and swift to respond to your inputs, too.
Then there’s the eye-catching turbine-styled air vents, plenty of brushed metal surfacing and ambient mood lighting with up to 64 different colours to choose from. It really does look properly futuristic in here – even if some surfaces might not feel quite as sturdy as they appear.
I’d be inclined to go for one of the A 250 models. Not only do you get a punchier engine than cheaper ones, you get a more sophisticated suspension set-up too.
But it’s not all form over function. There’s good adjustability up front, so it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. The second row is usefully spacious too, so adult passengers won’t feel squashed in when sitting back there. That said, a Volkswagen Golf, BMW 1 Series and Audi A3 are all slightly roomier. Those cars all have slightly larger boots than the Mercedes too, and they’re easier to load as a result.
Still, there’s nothing difficult about driving the Mercedes A-Class. Its suspension is a bit softer than the Audi’s and the BMW’s, and it doesn’t make too much wind or tyre noise at speed – so it’s a surprisingly comfortable motorway cruiser for a smaller car. It smoothes over the majority of lumps and bumps around town too, but larger ones can send a bit of a jolt through the cabin.
A line-up of 1.3- and 2.0-litre petrol engines all offer reasonable performance and are decently economical, but they’re not quite as refined as what you’ll find in an Audi A3 or a Volkswagen Golf. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time on the motorway, one of the diesel engines would be a good shout. There’s also an economical plug-in hybrid version available.
Regardless of which A-Class you go for (barring the full-fat AMG models, of course), you won’t find it quite as entertaining on a twisty road as a BMW 1 Series or a Ford Focus – but it can certainly hold its own. Its steering is accurate, and even though it wallows in the corners a bit more than those cars there is a good amount of grip to keep things safe and steady.
Not that a comparative lack of fun factor should put you off shortlisting the Mercedes A-Class. Ultimately this is still an impressively plush, comfortable and tech-rich family hatch that really does justice to the Mercedes badge on its bootlid. There’s plenty of safety features as standard too, such as automatic emergency braking, active lane-keep assist and a driver attention monitoring system.
So if the Mercedes A-Class sounds like it’s the posh family hatch for you, head on over to our deals page to see how much money you can save through carwow. You can also watch our group test review by clicking the video below.
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 (a Volkswagen Golf or Audi A3 have more space), but the A-Class is 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 only the range-topping AMG Line Premium Edition and AMG Line Premium Plus Edition models get a fold-down armrest back here.
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 an armrest with built-in cup holders for your rear-seat passengers, but to do that you need to buy one of the two range-topping trim levels. This does not feature on lower-spec cars.
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.
Not counting the high-performance AMG versions, the Mercedes A-Class comes with a choice of two diesel and three petrol engines. There’s also the option of a fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid, which is capable of covering nearly 45 miles on electric power alone (or so Mercedes claims).
The lower-powered petrol models get a six-speed manual transmission as standard, but you have the option of upgrading to a seven-speed automatic if you don’t fancy giving your left leg too much of a work out. The A 250 gets the auto as standard.
Meanwhile, the entry-level diesel gets a six-speed manual gearbox, but there’s an eight-speed automatic available too, which is standard on the faster A 200d. The PHEV gets the same automatic transmission as standard.
If you want near hot-hatch levels of performance, the A 250 petrol is the car to go for. It’s capable of hitting 62mph in just over six seconds, and it’s decently economical too.. Trouble is, it doesn’t sound all that great when you really put your foot down. But there’s always the hot AMG-tuned A35 and hotter still A45 if you really want a sporting drive.
The A200 petrol is still pretty quick, hitting 62mph in 8.0 seconds, and it’s more than nippy enough for getting around town and getting up to speed on the motorway.
If motorway fuel economy is your primary concern, however, you’d be better off going for one of the two diesel engines. Both have claimed economy figures reaching well into the mid-50s, so we’d advise going for the A 200d as it’s got a bit more power than the A 180d model.
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 ruts and cracks in the road.
However, it’s not perfect, as some particularly big bumps and potholes can send a fairly loud jolt through the cabin. It’s also worth noting that all models barring the A 250 and A 250e plug-in hybrid get a less sophisticated rear suspension set-up, which will further compromise ride comfort – but not by much.
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 or a BMW 1 Series, 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 those cars, 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, and a long roster of advanced assistance systems has helped it score a full five-star Euro NCAP rating. These include Active Brake Assist (which will automatically apply the brakes in an emergency), seven airbags and an 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
Mercedes A-Class colours
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