Mercedes A-Class

It's the smallest car to wear the Mercedes badge, and also the least expensive. It's not cheap by conventional measures, though, with its pricing putting it up against premium hatchback rivals such as the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. It does however exude clever thinking, as Mercedes has squeezed masses of room into its small and tall hatchback. Efficient engines should mean reasonable running costs, but the Mercedes A-Class prioritises practicalities over the fun its rivals offer.

Mercedes A-Class hatchback

£20,715 - £30,910
5 Doors
3.6 / 5
  • Stylish looks
  • Very hi-tech
  • Economical engines
  • Options are expensive
  • Smaller boot than rivals
  • Sport models are uncomfortable

The Mercedes A-Class is taking a much more traditional approach to rivaling the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. The old car's mini-MPV proportions have been replaced by a lower, wider more normal small hatchback style that looks great. Those looks are helping the A-Class to reinvent itself as a sportier model – as the Sport and AMG Sport specifications suggest. Like other Mercedes models, the A-Class is fun to drive, but not with the same sports car feel of a BMW 1 Series. That means the suspension is slightly more forgiving over bumps, while the steering also errs on the side of comfort – it feels pleasantly weighted, but the reaction of the car to steering inputs isn’t as sharp. And much as the interior is as good looking as the exterior, some of the quality of the plastics is disappointing for a Mercedes.

Mercedes A45 AMG hatchback

£22,535 - £38,195
5 Doors
3.7 / 5
  • Powerful petrol engine
  • Four-wheel-drive grip
  • Practical hatchback body
  • Steering lacks feel
  • Expensive to buy and pricey to run
  • Sloping roofline limits space in the back

The Mercedes A45 AMG packs a 355bhp engine and four-wheel drive in a practical hatchback body. And although it's based on the entry point to Mercedes' range, the A45 adds a sense of occasion with an aggressive bodykit. Interior space is comparable to the Volkswagen Golf, while fuel economy isn’t too bad relative to the power offered. What the A45 excels at is all-weather performance – few cars can match the speed of the Mercedes down a slippery road. This ability comes at a high price, however.