Mercedes A-Class hatchback

Price  £21,065 - £35,030

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 rival to the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf. However, shop around for the right finance deal and you may find it costs no more per month than a Ford Focus in a high specification.

Its predecessor was an unconventional car, but the latest A-Class is similar in layout and packaging to most other hatchbacks, with a couple of crucial differences: it wears that coveted Mercedes badge and feels as luxurious as it looks.

There's the usual mix of petrol and diesel engines, all of them economical, topped by an extreme performance version: the fast but expensive A45 AMG. The economy star among the diesels is the A180 CDI, which does 76.4mpg with a manual or automatic gearbox and (on 16-inch alloy wheels) costs nothing to tax.

The most economical petrol is the A180 automatic, which does 55.4mpg and (again on 16-inch alloy wheels) costs £30 a year to tax. But for economy and strong performance, the A220 CDI diesel is hard to beat. The automatic version manages 67.3mpg and costs £20 a year to tax, but sprints from 0-62mph in just 8.2 seconds.

The A-Class places comfort above sporty handling (a BMW 1 Series is more fun to drive) but still feels secure enough and doesn’t lean too much in corners. The lowered suspension on sporty versions is a little firm (and very firm on the AMG model) but both have sportier reactions, which some drivers may prefer.

The interior of the A-Class is luxurious and shares styling features with more expensive models in the Mercedes range. However, the quality isn’t quite as good as in an Audi A3. The downside of the car's low, sporty profile is a cramped cabin, especially in the rear. It's not very easy to get in and out of either, because the rear doors don’t open very wide.

Equipment is generous across the six core trim levels. These range from the basic SE to the high-performance AMG, with some ‘lukewarm’ sporty versions along the way. SE has most of the things people will expect in a Mercedes, including alloy wheels, air-conditioning, leather-effect and cloth seats, all-round electric windows, Bluetooth and an infotainment display.

Reliability ought to be good. Mercedes has a strong reputation in this area, although some of the A-Class’ interior plastics do let it down a bit. The car scored the full five stars in Euro NCAP's crash tests and comes with lots of safety equipment as standard. Highlights include a driver's knee airbag, fatigue monitoring, collision warning and electronic stability control.

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

3.1 / 5
based on 4 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."
2 / 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
"Mercedes says this new A-Class is vital to its future fortunes. Good job it's so impressive then."
5 / 10
"The Mercedes A-class is one of the most striking hatchbacks around, but rivals such as the Audi A3 and VW Golf are both cheaper to run and far more capable."
What owners say 
4 /5 based on 119 reviews
 of people would recommend this car to a friend
Last updated 
19 Aug 2015
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