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 - £38,195
5 Doors
3.6 / 5
  • Stylish looks
  • Economical engines
  • Very hi-tech
  • Smaller boot than rivals
  • Options are expensive
  • 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 The old car's mini-MPV proportions have been replaced by a lower, wider more normal small hatchback style that looks great.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

5 Doors
3.7 / 5
  • Powerful petrol engine
  • Four-wheel drive grip
  • Practical hatchback body shape
  • Expensive to buy and pricy to run
  • Steering lacks feel
  • Sloping roofline limits space in the back

The Mercedes A45 AMG offers a 355bhp engine and four-wheel drive mated to a practical hatchback body shape. It might be based on the entry-point to the Mercedes range, but the A45 adds to the 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, though, is all-weather performance and few cars can match the speed of the Mercedes down a slippery road. That said, this is not a cheap car.