Mercedes A-Class vs rivals

24 Oct, 2012 10:15am

We pit the stylish new Mercedes A-Class against its premium hatch rivals from BMW and Audi

The Mercedes A-Class has always carved its own niche in the small car sector. The first two versions were more supermini-MPV than family hatch, but now the third generation has arrived, and Mercedes is aiming for the top of the premium small hatchback sector.

It gets a sporty new look, an upmarket interior packed full of hi-tech kit, a range of efficient engines and a comprehensive list of safety equipment. But does it have the right combination of talents to beat the best cars in the class? We’ve lined up the A250 AMG Sport against two hugely talented contenders to find out.

The BMW 1 Series is our current class favourite, and in 125i M Sport guise, it delivers great performance without sacrificing efficiency. Also facing the Mercedes is the all-new Audi A3. The diesel version came second to the 1 Series in its first test – so can the 1.8 TFSI do any better? And where exactly does the new A-Class fit into the mix?


By pushing the A-Class upmarket, Mercedes has set its newest addition on a risky collision course with some of the best models in the business. So has the gamble paid off?

Well, if you value style above everything else, the Mercedes scores a direct hit. And although some of the cabin quality is a little below par, the interior is eye-catching and packed with clever hi-tech equipment.

Yet there’s no escaping the fact the all-new A-Class isn’t quite as roomy as its rivals, and it doesn’t feel as composed on the road. It also costs more to fuel and service. As a result, it finishes a disappointing third in this test.

Separating the BMW and Audi is tougher. The A3 is beautifully built, handsome and features a keen engine, but ultimately it can’t quite match the brilliant 1 Series. Fast, fun, practical and cost effective to run, the BMW is still the champ.

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I read the full test in the mag, as I have been very keen on the A Class. Without wanting to overly criticise, what I took away from it was that, basically, I should buy a Golf. I wanted to construct a comment which didn't sound like a fanboy/troll but that review didn't really help me as a potential purchase. I don't want a Golf!

Real shame this 'style' decided by BMW. I don't catch as I think they are loosing lot of sales with a non-stylish car... though I guess they know their market much more than me ...

Have you considered the Volvo V40? Depends what you're looking for in a car but D2 is more economical than the bluemotion, emits less CO2 and has more interesting styling inside and out. Oh and the basic D2es model is also cheaper than the current bluemotion. V40 Ride and handling are very nice with torque vectoring and quality of the interior is easily as good as Audi or bmw. it's also the safest car on the road right now according to euro ncap.

Hi Banrey

Thanks for your comment. When we did the test, we evaluated the A-Class purely against the 1 Series and A3. The winning 1 Series had four stars because it's the fast petrol version, so it's not as efficient as other models in the range. We still think the 116d EfficientDynamics is a five-star car.

The overriding feeling we had after driving the A250 AMG Sport was that it's not the best representation of the range. If your heart is set on an A-Class, then take a look at an SE model instead, as it should be more comfortable and have better running costs thanks to the smaller engines on offer. If you still want the sporty looks of the AMG Sport, then the Sport could be a better option, as it comes with the standard suspension, so should be more comfortable. We'll be doing another test with the A-Class in Sport spec in the coming weeks to see if it's better.

spud_dog has made a good call with the V40, I'm running our long-term D2 SE Lux Nav, and it's proved very comfortable and economical so far. It's not the sportiest car to drive, and the boot is a bit small, but it looks great and stands out compared to some other small hatchbacks.

Thanks again

Dean Gibson
Deputy road test editor

Sadly , the One series only keeps getting uglier.

Wait a minute ..... why mention 'firm ride' in 'Against' when you say it is 'slightly more comfortable over bumps' than the BMW but don't mention the ride in the 'Against' window for the BMW?

Do I sniff a whiff of bias here?

It just goes to show how everybody's idea of a good looking car varies,
thankfully or we would be driving even more identical cards than we all do

I think this latest version of the A-Class is a very nice looking model which
looks far more pleasing to the eye and is a vast improvement over the frumpy MPV
styling of previous versions.

I would never have considered any of the previous A-Class models however this
new model is certainly to me and I am sure will have a much broader appeal in

Barney, I agree with spud dog, the V40 is a lovely car, and will be a lot rarer than any of these, and if you really want sporty look out for the forthcoming T5 R-Design, It will not be the best V40, but it will stand toe to toe with these looks and performance wise, and Volvo have very good dealers with reasonable service costs, and you will not be following the herd.

There is always bias with AE review. What ever AE or other reviews say the Merc will sell bucket loads.

Only boring people drive Volvo's

Auto Express BMW fanboys find for BMW yet again. What a surprise.

Reading this review in the actual magazine I had to laugh at the comment about the BMW's driving postion being spot on. Having sat in a 125i M Sport the other week all I can say is that the pedals are so far offset to the right that it is beyond a joke and certainly does not lend itself to a "spot on" driving position. Oh, and I have to agree with jeremy Clarkson about the seats which are stupidly firm and are not particularly comfortable.

The Merc is the best looker, the other two are so old fashioned and dull, if you are not a boy racer and image is not a factor but driving pleasure is, for a car that ticks most of the boxes consider the VW Pasat, or the sporty Skoda vRS Blackline.

Having just test driven the new A class I have to say I was very impressed. It handles well and goes well and the space isn't as bad as everyone seems to say it is. I've place my order to replace my BMW 120d MSport. The Merc dealers are far more friendly than the BMW dealer.

Not surprised, my local BMW dealer is awful. I've been driving BMWs for the last 6yrs and over that time I've never once been impressed by their service. like the time my 3 month old 5 series started to misfire. They wanted to keep my car overnight, but wouldn't give me a courtesy car, and refused even give me a lift home. what the... I emailed the MD of BMW Europe to complain, the next morning there was a 5 series M sport on the drive.

Can't wait for a test of the S3 vs A45 AMG vs M135i.

Merc & Audi are Vw Golf in drag & a stupid price tag to match £25.000 Plus Golfs in drag, I'd rather have a NEW Golf in a decent spec with a big discount & Not look like a g** Hairdresser. BM Ugly Harsh Ride.