Mercedes A-Class hatchback (2013-2018) - Engines, drive & performance

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

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

Drive the Mercedes A-Class in isolation and it comes across as a solid performer. It has plenty of merits, including direct steering and – when fitted with smaller alloy wheels – suspension that deals well with bumpy and broken UK roads. Unlike the BMW 1 Series, which is rear-wheel drive, most Mercedes A-Class models are front-wheel drive, which means they tend to feel less involving than the BMW.

Like all front-wheel-drive cars, the Mercedes can suffer from torque steer – a writhing sensation through the steering wheel under hard acceleration – although this is more pronounced in the A-Class than in rivals such as the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf. You can specify 4MATIC four-wheel drive on most models in the range and this makes the car feel planted, but not any more fun to drive.

Mercedes A-Class diesel engines

While the A180d diesel is undoubtedly easy on fuel, it’s not quick – the 0-62mph sprint takes a leisurely 11.3 seconds – a figure beaten by its direct rivals from BMW and Audi. We’d expect better performance from a car costing close to £22,000. Spend a bit more and things get significantly better: the 2.1-litre diesel A220d can dispatch with 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, which makes it well suited to making swift and safe A-road overtakes.

Petrol engines

On average, the petrol engines are much more sprightly from 0-62mph. The slowest petrol, the A160, does it in 10.6 seconds with a manual gearbox. Naturally, the more powerful petrols accelerate quicker, with the A250 hitting the magic number in 6.3 seconds, which is a similar time to the Volkswagen Golf GTI. The powerful A45 AMG has a 4.2-second launch time rivals that of a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S.

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