Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review & Prices
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-Benz 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.
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 to form an almost seamless widescreen display. These are easy to configure and swift to respond to your inputs, too.
Then there are 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.
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 are plenty of safety features as standard too, such as active lane-keep assist and a driver attention monitoring system.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has a RRP range of £24,135 to £41,595. The price of a used Mercedes-Benz A-Class on Carwow starts at £12,395.
The Mercedes A-Class costs more than either the Audi A3 or the BMW 1 Series and while the basic Mercedes has more power than an entry-level Audi A3, the Audi has better standard infotainment. The BMW 1 Series, meanwhile, matches the Mercedes for power and betters it for standard infotainment
The Mercedes A-Class manages to be all things to all people and is the most rounded posh small car currently on sale, although others are more fun to drive
How comfortable the Mercedes A-Class is in town depends on which model you go for, with A200 models and above getting a cleverer suspension than the basic one in the lower models.
While the latter system is fine most of the time, the former is best for filtering out the pitter patter of smaller bumps in the road. This is especially true if you specify the optional variable dampers and put them in their softest setting, where it’s comfier than a BMW 1 Series.
Having said all that. The Mercedes can still be caught out by big bumps and speed humps that transmit an audible ‘thunk’ into the cabin.
Nevertheless, factor in its light controls and optional automatic gearbox and it’s fair to say the A-Class is one of the best small family cars to drive in town.
The spec sheet backs this up. Even a basic A-Class comes with front and rear parking sensors, as well as a reversing camera, so squeezing into tight spaces shouldn’t be a major hassle. Although auto-park, which is available in the Volkswagen Golf, isn’t even an option in the Mercedes.
On the motorway
Even in its basic form, the Mercedes A-Class is quiet and comfortable on the motorway but to get the best from it, it is worth considering the Driving Assistance package.
It adds a suite of autonomous driving aids that have filtered down from the flagship S-Class. With this kit fitted, your A-Class can warn you of cars in your blind spot and take avoiding action if needed, brake automatically for cars crossing your path and steer around collisions automatically if there’s not enough space to stop.
As well as all that, the A-Class can accelerate, brake and steer automatically as well as observe speed limits. It makes it an excellent small car for long drives.
But the Mercedes also shows its strength in terms of refinement and comfort on longer runs, with good supportive seats and impressive lack of road noise entering the cabin.
On a twisty road
The Mercedes A-Class bridges the gap between the Audi A3 and the BMW 1 Series – it’s slightly sportier to drive than the Audi but more comfortable than the BMW.
Steering is an area the A-Class shines even when compared to the sporty BMW. The Merc’s steering gives you the best feedback and the clearest idea of how much grip its front tyres have. The A-Class’ automatic gearbox is another strong point, offering quick and smooth shifts when you’re pressing on through bends.
Having said that, the Mercedes doesn’t feel quite as sharp in corners as the BMW, but its balance of comfort and sporty driving makes it the best all-rounder of the three.
The Mercedes A-Class makes great use of its space with a roomy back seat, although the boot is smaller on paper than other posh hatchbacks
You’ll find the Mercedes A-Class has plenty of room up front for tall adults, with seat rails that slide surprisingly far back on their runners for a car this size.
Small rather than tall? Then that’s no issue either. The Mercedes driver’s seat has lots of adjustment for height and the steering wheel also moves for height and reach. You can even adjust thigh support by 60mm, and all models come with heated seats.
Interior storage space is also impressive. The door bins are a decent size, you get two cup holders and a nicely damped glovebox. There’s more storage under the front centre armrest, while the rear armrest (on high-end models that have it) has built-in cup holders. There’s also netted storage on the backs of the two front seats.
Space in the back seats
People over six feet tall will be fine in the back of the Mercedes A-Class – there’s plenty of knee and headroom. It’s not so good with three adults in the back – the seat’s raised centre means your middle passenger will feel like they’re sitting lengthways on a log, and elbowroom for all three passengers will be tight.
It’s not too bad for fitting a child seat. Okay, so the small rear doors make it tricky to get it in, but there’s enough room for a bulky rear-facing seat, plus the Isofix points are easy to locate.
Overall, the Mercedes is better in the back than either the BMW 1 Series or the Audi A3.
The Mercedes A-Class hatchback’s boot capacity of 371 litres is smaller than all its main rivals including the BMW 1 Series (380 litres), Audi A3 (380 litres) and Volkswagen Golf (381 litres).
But the A-Class feels like it has the most usable space – you’ll fit six carry-on suitcases into its boot, one more than you’ll fit in the Volkswagen and Audi. You can get six cases in the BMW but only if you make use of the storage under its adjustable boot floor.
The Mercedes’ floor isn’t adjustable but there is some additional storage underneath and you get back seats that split 40:20:40 as standard (optional in the Audi), and they lie flat so bulky items can be easily pushed into place.
Big infotainment screens work well, but for a price, and some of the cabin quality doesn’t match the overall high-class impression
The Mercedes A-Class still has an interior every other small posh car loves to hate – it looks brilliant and has infotainment good enough for you to overlook some of the cabin’s cheaper feeling materials.
The Mercedes A-Class went on sale in 2018 – not that you’d know it from inside because the cabin’s cooler than you’ll find in any of its (newer) alternatives.
Wow factor comes in the form of a pair of huge infotainment screens that join together seamlessly to form one huge display that’s crystal clear and colourful. It’s then set into a backdrop of multi-coloured mood lighting and beautiful turbine-style air vents. It’s really not that far removed from the company’s flagship S-Class.
Nothing comes for free, though, and to get both the huge screens and the ambient lighting, you’ll need to upgrade from basic Sport Executive to top-spec AMG Line Premium.
Mind you, despite the hefty price it’s worth doing – the upgraded screens don’t just look brilliant, they work brilliantly, too. You can operate them directly via the centre screen, via the touch-sensitive pad between the front seats or using touch-sensitive buttons on the steering.
But it’s best to just sidestep all of them and use Mercedes’ voice activation. It bursts into life when you say ‘Hey Mercedes…’ followed by a command. It’s frighteningly accurate.
The excellent voice activation means there’s less reason to mirror your phone on the car’s infotainment screen, although you can still do that via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to use your phone’s apps (and voice activation system) on the Merc’s excellent infotainment. Even the standard stereo is pretty decent with a 100W output that’s reasonably punchy.
The interior’s only real fault is its inconsistent build quality. So, while you get soft-touch plastics around your eye line, materials lower in the cabin feel cheap, shiny plastic trims scratch easily and the row of buttons on the dashboard feel like they belong on a toy. Overall, a BMW 1 Series has a better feeling of solidity.
Ignoring the high-performance A35 and A45 that we have reviewed separately, the Mercedes A-Class is available with a choice of two petrol, two diesel and one plug-in petrol-electric hybrid. All models come as standard with a twin-clutch automatic with seven (petrol models) or eight (plug-in hybrid and diesels) speeds.
The entry-level A180 petrol is one of the best options. It produces 136hp, which is enough to get the Mercedes from 0-62mph in just 8.8 seconds, while it’ll return fuel economy of up to 45mpg and cost £230 to tax in year one. Better still, it feels punchier than the basic petrol engines fitted to the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
Mind you, the 163hp A200 is quicker still – getting from 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds – and has almost identical running costs.
Have an EV charger at home and do lots of short drives? Then the A250 plug-in hybrid could be perfect for your needs. It can travel up to about 40 miles on electricity alone, but you still get a petrol engine to fall back on for longer drives. The motor and engine combine to get the A250e from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds and road tax is free.
If you do lots of long drives, however, diesel is still king – both the 116hp A180d and 150hp A200d offer solid performance on the motorway, will return around 55mpg and cost £230 to tax.
The Mercedes A-Class was awarded five stars for safety when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP back in 2018 and it remains very safe today. Having said that, both the BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3 are also five-star cars.
Check out the A-Class’ spec sheet and you’ll see it has no shortage of safety features including a plethora of airbags, a bonnet that pops up to protect pedestrians from the car’s hard internals in an accident, active-lane assist and hill-hold brakes.
All models also come fitted with an alarm and interior sensor.
While Mercedes doesn’t always live up to its premium-car billing in satisfaction surveys, the A-Class tends to perform well. It comes with a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty that’s a match for BMW’s cover and better than the three-year/60,000-mile policy you get with a new Audi.