Mercedes A-Class review
The Mercedes A-Class is a premium hatch that is full of quality, with great on-board technology and a range of frugal engines
The Mercedes A-Class has always been a compact hatch with one major selling point – that three-pointed star on the nose. But while its predecessors all lacked a little substance behind the badge, this latest generation is a genuine contender for class honours. Step inside and it blows its rivals away – the interior design and quality is wonderful, and the infotainment system is one of the best on the market at any price.
Some rivals are more fun to drive and several are more comfortable, but the A-Class leads the class both in terms of refinement and efficiency. Invest in one of the higher grade infotainment set-ups, and the A-Class is one of the most high-tech hatches money can buy.
About the Mercedes A-Class
The latest Mercedes A-Class is the fourth generation of Mercedes’ smallest car. While the first two examples took on a mini-MPV design direction (with clever, if not particularly desirable, results), the most recent pair have gone for a more conventional five-door hatchback shape in order to compete directly with the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
The A-Class is an important model for Mercedes: available as a five-door hatchback and four-door saloon in the UK, it’s the brand’s biggest-seller. As with the third-generation model, spin-offs from the same platform are available - including the four-door coupe CLA and GLA mini-SUV).
Car group tests
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Used car tests
Mercedes has pared back the available trim levels for the A-Class to now include Sport, Sport Executive, AMG Line Executive, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus. All models include cruise control, heated seats and dual-zone climate control, although the entry Sport version makes do with smaller 17-inch alloys, compared to the standard 18-inch wheels (of differing design) across the rest of the range.
Opting for the cheapest A-Class also means you'll have to forego the larger 10.25-inch media screen included with higher-grade trims, although the Sport's 7.0-inch touchscreen still runs the same MBUX multimedia system as other models.
Engine choices are made up of two diesels and four petrol units. The A180 d and A 200 d both use a 2.0-litre unit, developing 114bhp and 148bhp respectively. A 1.3-litre turbo is offered in two power outputs in the A 180 and A 200 (134bhp and 161bhp, respectively), while the A 250 uses a 221bhp 2.0-litre turbo unit.
Both the A 180 and A 200 are available with a choice of six-speed manual and seven speed twin-clutch automatic gearboxes, while the A 200 d and A 220 d get an eight-speed twin-clutch automatic.
There's also the A 250 e that gets the turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine, mated to a 15.6kWh battery and a 75kW electric motor. Total system output jumps from 158bhp to a more serious 215bhp.
A more spritely AMG A 35 is available in hatchback or saloon form and uses a new 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder, producing 302bhp and 400Nm of torque. Hot hatch fans will love the manic AMG A 45 S, featuring the world's most powerful four-cylinder engine - a bespoke turbocharged 2.0-litre unit with 415bhp.
Used and nearly new
This fourth generation Mercedes A-Class launched in 2018 so it’s now in plentiful supply on the used car market. The car has proven extremely popular with buyers with its combination of style, technology and a premium badge helping keep used values strong. The A-Class was the UK’s fifth best-selling car in 2020 so there’s no shortage of choice out there.
Mercedes A-Class history
Mercedes A-Class Mk3: 2013-2018
The third generation A-Class arrived in 2013 as a complete departure from the Mercedes compact car philosophy that had gone before. A traditional hatchback in shape, it offered sharp design inside and out but was criticised for a firm ride and a lack of practicality. Big sales numbers mean there are lots of used models to choose from. Read our full Mk3 Mercedes A-Class buyer’s guide here...
Mercedes A-Class Mk2: 2004-2012
Following the same MPV themes as the original Mercedes A-Class the Mk2 car was very much an update on that formula and remained at odds with what rival manufacturers were doing in the compact premium family car space at the time. Sturdy build quality, low running costs and cabin space were strengths but it was better around town than on the open road.
Mercedes A-Class Mk1: 1998-2004
The first Mercedes A-Class with a unique design with a tall shape and a small footprint maximising interior space and manoeuvrability. The design was groundbreaking, a new approach to premium compact cars and they still make good, cheap family runabouts today.
For an alternative review of the Mercedes A-Class, visit our sister site carbuyer.co.uk...
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Mercedes A-Class is a premium hatch that is full of quality, with great on-board technology and a range of frugal engines
- 2Engines, performance and driveA great cruiser with strong performance, but the A-Class has uninspiring handling and the small petrol lacks refinement
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsThe A-Class has excellent economy figures and solid residual values, but insurance costs are steep
- 4Interior, design and technologyGorgeous design and a smart, sophisticated interior make the A-Class an appealing choice
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBoot and cubby spaces are an improvement over the old car’s, but the A-Class is still not as roomy as an Audi A3
- 6Reliability and safetyThe A-Class gets top marks for safety, but servicing costs are more expensive compared to some rivals