Mercedes A-Class hatchback

£20,715 - £30,910

The Mercedes A-Class is the cheapest model in the Mercedes range and offers buyers an alternative to premium hatchbacks such as the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3, and BMW 1 Series. It has smart looks and a practical hatchback body.

The interior finish is excellent and, while it doesn’t match the quality of the Audi A3, it looks more stylish and has sporty touches such as a trio of circular air vents. It also borrows features from more expensive Mercedes models, such as the infotainment screen that sprouts from the dashboard.

While Mercedes is known for building luxury saloons, the A-Class’ hatchback body shape makes it very practical thanks to five doors and a boot that offers a taller load bay than a saloon can offer.

Though the Mercedes isn’t as fun to drive as a BMW 1 Series, it can still put a smile on your face thanks to its plentiful grip and suspension that reins in body lean in corners. AMG models have stiff suspension that can be uncomfortable on poor roads, but some drivers will prefer the sportier feel.

Counting in the A-Class’ favour is an excellent range of engines. The most economical diesel version can return more than 70mpg, while the A220 CDI offers a superb balance of economy and performance. The Mercedes A45 AMG offers more power than any of its competitors, and is fitted with four-wheel drive for excellent grip in all weather. The A180 CDI SE model offers the best fuel economy and is also very well equipped, so it's our pick of the range.

As hatchbacks go, the Mercedes A-Class isn’t cheap, but even the basic SE model comes equipped with a 5.8-inch colour display, 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear electric windows, a Bluetooth phone connection, air-conditioning and leather seats. Sport models add cruise control, automatic wipers, 17-inch alloy wheels and twin exhaust pipes. Both the top-of-the-range A45 AMG and the Engineered by AMG model offer sporty looks, but the latter has much lower running costs and more modest performance.