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 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.
The Mercedes A-Class diesel has the best fuel economy in its class
Good to drive, but the Mercedes A-Class doesn’t engage its driver like the BMW 1 Series
Mercedes A-Class has a stylish interior, but can’t match the Audi A3 for quality
Sloping roofline makes Mercedes A-Class feel less spacious than it is
Mercedes A-Class offers five-star safety and decent build quality