Mercedes A-Class AMG Line review
The Mercedes A-Class AMG Line hatchback offers sporting looks, premium technology and a wide array of engine options
The Mercedes A-Class has created a family of upmarket small models. There’s the standard hatchback, which has a trio of German rivals with the Volkswagen Golf, Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. Then there’s the coupe-like Mercedes CLA with either saloon or ‘Shooting Brake’ estate bodies and, while it may have a different name, the Mercedes GLA SUV with its raised ride-height and rugged exterior styling is also based on the same mechanicals.
It's Mercedes’ way of stealing as many possible slices of the popular small, premium car market. Here, we’re going to concentrate on the Mercedes A-Class AMG Line hatchback, which is similar to the Audi A3 S line and BMW 1 Series M Sport trims, and proves very popular with UK buyers. You’ll have no doubt seen many A-Class models with sporty bodykits, as the smallest Mercedes was among the best-selling cars in the UK in 2021.
The A-Class AMG Line hatchback aims to add a little bit of the glamour from the Mercedes A-Class AMG performance models to a range with more sedate engines and lower running costs. An enthusiast isn’t going to mistake the humble A 180 for the high-performance AMG A 35 and AMG A 45, but there’s no doubt that the AMG Line body styling gives it a more distinctive and sporting look than SE and Sport versions.
The package includes bigger, deeper bumpers at the front and rear with chrome trims, AMG side sill panels and visible exhaust tailpipes. The diamond-pattern radiator grille has a single louvre to look sportier while 18-inch twin-spoke alloy wheels give a more premium look.
Inside, the AMG Line includes sportier seats trimmed in fabric and material which looks like leather but is actually Artico, an artificial alternative. It may not sound particularly luxurious but it actually feels better quality than many other carmakers’ real leather.
The three-spoke steering wheel is covered in real ‘Nappa’ leather, though, and has a flat-bottomed section, mimicking racing cars and making it a little easier to get in and out, especially if you have long legs.
That interior is one of the A-Class’s biggest selling points. It manages to make most rivals look out of date, but the latest Audi A3 has taken a leap in technology to bring the fight back to Mercedes. Mercedes’s latest MBUX infotainment system places two digital displays in a continuous sweep across the top of the dash. Other features, like the turbine-style air vents and climate toggle switches, look and feel great, too.
In the AMG Line, the MBUX system uses a 10.25-inch touchscreen beside digital dials shown on a seven-inch display. Connectivity is ticked off with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Upgrade to AMG Line Premium for around £1,500 and the driver’s info screen is upgraded to a 10.25-inch item. Upgrading again to AMG Line Premium Plus brings extra luxuries like a sunroof, but doesn’t look so good value as you’re required to spend another £1,500 or so.
As with any other A-Class model, it is reasonably spacious inside, especially in the front. The boot space and cubby storage is an improvement over the old A-Class, but it is still not as roomy as an Audi A3, especially in the rear which can be tight for taller passengers.
The cheapest way into an AMG Line A-Class is with the A180, which is powered by a 134bhp petrol engine. If you need a little more economy than the 47mpg offered by the cheapest petrol (and can cope with less power), there’s the 114bhp A 180 d. The claimed economy of 56.5mpg is impressive, but the lacklustre performance will always remind you that this is far from an AMG model, whatever the badge on the back says.
The 161bhp A 200 petrol and 148bhp A 200 d are much more interesting, and both have a 0-62mph time of around eight seconds. The latter is now the fastest diesel since the A 220 d is no longer available. Meanwhile, the A 250 petrol offers near hot-hatchback performance, with 221bhp, a 6.2-second 0-62mph time and a 155mph top speed.
AMG Line trims also unlock the availability of the A-Class’ plug-in hybrid engine. Called A 250 e, it pairs the 1.3-litre petrol engine from the A 200 with an electric motor and a 10.6kWh lithium-ion battery. It’s an interesting proposition for private and company-car drivers, with a 42-mile electric range allowing the average daily commute to be undertaken without using any fuel. Consequently, it offers the potential of far lower running costs, but is also nearly as quick as the A 250 petrol. Be aware that the boot is smaller in the A 250 e because the battery is mounted under the boot floor.
Out on the road, the A-Class turns into corners with more enthusiasm than an A3, and remains flatter, with less body roll, as the weight loads up. The new BMW 1 Series feels slightly better balanced, though, despite the switch to a new front-wheel-drive chassis.
The 1 Series is more comfortable when equipped with optional adaptive dampers, too, and can round off little bumps which the A-Class on its big AMG wheels jiggles over. However, at motorway speeds, the A-Class manages to settle, despite those low-profile tyres, and the slippery body shape generates barely a whisper of wind noise.
That’s not something that can be said of the A 250’s engine. Whether it’s the diesel-like clatter at idle or the harsh, thrashy sound it makes at higher revs, the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine seems rather out of place in a Mercedes. And while performance is strong, it’s hampered by a seven-speed gearbox which is slow to kick down and surges on upshifts. Most buyers should be well-served by the A 200 petrol.
What you get
Mercedes A-Class AMG Line Executive Edition
- 18-inch alloy wheels
- Reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- LED headlights
- Two-zone air conditioning
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Mercedes A-Class AMG Line Premium Edition
The above, plus:
- Keyless entry
- Large digital dials screen
- Ambient lighting
Mercedes A-Class AMG Line Premium Plus Edition
The above, plus:
- Adaptive headlights
- Panoramic sunroof
- Traffic sign assist
Whichever body style of the A-Class you choose, the AMG Line versions are certainly the most attractive looking, thanks to styling additions inside and out which take their inspiration from Mercedes’ most exotic models. The interior is class-leading and if you tick a few boxes in the option list, it has plenty of clever technology too.
It's worth noting that the low-profile tyres and big wheels, which are part of the AMG Line pack, do hurt the refinement slightly on broken road surfaces. We’d also steer clear of the entry-level engines, as they only get you the sporting looks without any of the performance.