Mercedes A-Class hatchback
Price £21,065 - £35,030
- Stylish looks
- Very hi-tech
- Economical engines
- Options are expensive
- Smaller boot than rivals
- Sport models are uncomfortable
At a glance
"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 the smallest car in the brand's range, and it competes with the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf and Volvo V40. If you shop around for finance, you could even find that it doesn’t cost more per month than a top-of-the-range Ford Focus, too. The latest A-Class is much more conventional in size and shape as its predecessor, which was quite a tall and boxy thing.
There's the usual mix of petrol and diesel engines you should come to expect in a hatchback's range, and the diesels especially are quite economical. The range is topped by the fast but expensive A 45 AMG, which we’ve reviewed separately. The economy star is the A 180 d, which is capable of returning up to 80.7mpg. It's tax-free too, but only if you choose the smallest wheel options.
The most economical petrol is the A180 automatic, which does 55.4mpg (again on 16-inch alloy wheels) and costs £30 a year to tax. But for economy and strong performance, the A 220 d 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 7.5 seconds thanks to its 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system.
The A-Class has sporty looks, but a BMW 1 Series is more fun to drive. However, the Mercedes still feels secure enough and doesn’t lean too much in corners. The lowered suspension on higher spec versions is quite firm (especially the AMG Line models) but this doesn't translate into sporty handling, as rival models such as the BMW 1 Series and VW Golf are more fun to drive.
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 sporty shape 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.
The Mercedes A-Class diesel range has impressive fuel economy
Good to drive, but the Mercedes A-Class doesn’t engage its driver like a BMW 1 Series
Mercedes A-Class has a stylish interior, but can’t match the Audi A3 for quality
Compact shape makes Mercedes A-Class less spacious than rivals
Mercedes A-Class offers five-star safety and decent build quality