Mercedes A-Class hatchback

Price  £21,065 - £31,980

Mercedes A-Class hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

  • Stylish looks
  • Very hi-tech
  • Economical engines
  • Options are expensive
  • Smaller boot than rivals
  • Sport models are uncomfortable

At a glance

The greenest
A 180 CDI SE 5dr £22,140
The cheapest
A 180 SE 5dr £21,065
The fastest
A 250 AMG DCT 5dr £28,995
Top of the range
A 220 CDI Motorsport Ed Premium 4MATIC 5dr £35,030

"The Mercedes A-Class is one of the most stylish premium family hatchbacks on the market and is a real rival to the likes of the BMW 1 Series."

The Mercedes A-Class is a five-door family hatchback designed to take on upmarket rivals including the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf. In comparison with its predecessor, it's a conventional yet attractive-looking that's versatile, reasonably well equipped and solidly built.

We say solidly built, but the Audi A3 beats it – just – on that front. However, both inside and out, the A-Class certainly looks smarter and more desirable than the conservative Audi. For example, the interior shares many features (including three rotary air vents in the centre of the dashboard) with other, more expensive models in the Mercedes range.

Given Mercedes’ reputation for building luxury saloons and estates, the concept of a hatchback A-Class may be a little hard to grasp. However, it's certainly a practical car with a more accessible boot than any saloon.

It's not as entertaining to drive as a BMW 1 Series, but it's still involving enough, with bags of grip and body lean that's well contained in corners. The stiffer suspension of AMG versions makes the car uncomfortable on broken surfaces, but some drivers will like its sportier reactions.

The engine line-up is impressive and although it includes petrols, the diesels are most impressive – at least from a fuel economy point of view. The star among them is the A180 CDI ECO, which can return 78.5mpg, but even the standard A180 CDI does 70.6mpg. For this, and its generous equipment, the A180 CDI SE is our pick of the A-Class range.

Meanwhile, the A220 CDI blends excellent fuel economy with strong performance. Of the petrols, the A45 AMG is the most impressive performer. It's the most powerful car of its kind, and to help it get power to the road safely and securely, it has four-wheel drive. It's very expensive, though.

In fact, that's a charge you can level at all A-Class models. On the plus side, even the basic SE has an impressive amount of standard equipment, including front and rear electric windows, Bluetooth phone connectivity, a 5.8-inch colour display, air-conditioning and leather seats.

To this list, the Sport adds cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic wipers and twin exhaust pipes. The Engineered by AMG version looks almost as sporty as the full-blown, range-topping AMG, but it's cheaper to buy and run – although nothing like as quick.

MPG, running costs & CO2

4 / 5

The Mercedes A-Class diesel has the best fuel economy in its class

Engines, drive & performance

3.5 / 5

Good to drive, but the Mercedes A-Class doesn’t engage its driver like the BMW 1 Series

Interior & comfort

2.9 / 5

Mercedes A-Class has a stylish interior, but can’t match the Audi A3 for quality

Practicality & boot space

3 / 5

Sloping roofline makes Mercedes A-Class feel less spacious than it is

Reliability & safety

3.8 / 5

Mercedes A-Class offers five-star safety and decent build quality

What the others say

4.3 / 5
based on 3 reviews
4 / 5
"Great to look at, wide range of engines and lots of clever tech, but a narrow boot, firm ride on sport models, and expensive options."
5 / 5
"Although running costs are competitive, the A-Class isn't anywhere near as comfortable or refined as the Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series. Ultimately, it's a disappointment because of this."
8 / 10
"If you're looking for a snappy rival to the BMW 1-Series, look elsewhere; this is a superbly built, cosseting little hatch. Lovely."
What owners say 
4 /5 based on 119 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
13 Feb 2015
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