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Summary

The A-Class has undergone a transformation over the years – evolving from an unusual, small MPV into a stylish premium family hatchback that’s proved exceptionally popular. But does it warrant its success? Let’s take a look. 

Pros

  • Stunning interior

  • Loads of technology

  • Great styling 

Cons 

  • Top-spec versions are a bit expensive

  • Rivals have roomier rear seats

  • BMW 1 Series is better to drive

Introduction

Few cars have evolved quite so much over the years as the Mercedes A-Class. This car first debuted in 1997 as an MPV-cross family hatchback that aimed to bring the quality expected of a Mercedes into a compact package. It met with limited success, though, as was the same for the second-generation version. 

By the time the third A-Class arrived in 2013 it was a dramatically different car to its predecessors – a more stylish and much sleeker car, with a limited focus on practicality. Instead, it took the fight to the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, and continues to do so in this fiercely competitive trio. 

Latest model

If the third A-Class impressed, the current fourth-generation took things up a level when it debuted in 2018 – bringing technology from the brand’s more expensive models into a compact package.

Not least on the interior, which benefits from the ‘Mercedes-Benz User Experience’ (MBUX) infotainment system, which combines a digital dial screen and central infotainment display to create one panel. It also features the latest voice control system, operated using the words ‘Hey Mercedes’. 

It’s also available in saloon form for the first time in the UK, while the choice of models has never been broader – from efficient diesels to plug-in hybrids. 

Driving feel

While BMW might aim for its 1 Series to be sporty, Mercedes aims for comfort and refinement with its A-Class. It drives and behaves behind the wheel like a much larger car – no bad thing, but it’s not as enthusiastic or eager as rivals. 

However, it’s a refined, relaxed and comfortable choice that’s an ideal car for everyday use. 

Looks and image

When it comes to upmarket design, Mercedes has nailed the look of the A-Class. It brilliantly conveys the cues from much larger models – the headlights, fancy front grille and sleek design – and wraps it into a more compact package. 

If you value styling, the AMG Line models have an aggressive look. Some of the entry-level SE and Sport models can look a touch plain. If you prefer a saloon, Mercedes can also cater with its new four-door A-Class. 

Space

The A-Class doesn’t lead the way when it comes to spaciousness, but it’s still a roomy choice that could prove a good small family car. 

Its 370-litre boot is 29 litres larger than its predecessor, and is closely matched to the room on offer in the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. The seats also fold 40:20:40, and with the full rear bench folded the space on offer increases to a useful 1,210 litres. 

The rear space is also more generous than the previous A-Class, but it’s not especially roomy. Adults may struggle in the back seats.

Engines and running costs

Whether it’s efficient diesels, punchy petrol models or plug-in hybrids, the A-Class has something to suit most preferences. 

Though the full range of powertrains can be found below, our pick of the line-up would be the A 200, which uses a turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine that produces 161bhp and 250Nm of torque. You can choose it with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic transmission, too.

It delivers a great mix of performance and efficiency, with the A 200 being able to hit 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 140mph. As for fuel efficiency, Mercedes says it will return 47.9mpg, with CO2 emissions of 135g/km.

Powertrains

  • 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel (114bhp) - A 180d

  • 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel (148bhp) - A 200d 

  • 2.0-litre turbocharged diesel (187bhp) – A 220d

  • 1.3-turbocharged petrol (134bhp) - A 180

  • 1.3-turbocharged petrol (161bhp) - A 200

  • 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol (221bhp) - A 250

  • 1.3-litre plug-in hybrid mated to electric motor and 15.6kWh battery (215bhp)

Rivals

  • Mazda3

  • Ford Focus

  • Volkswagen Golf

  • Audi A3 Sportback

  • BMW 1 Series

Trims explained

A strong line-up of trim levels are available on the A-Class. Here are the highlights…

SE

  • Cruise control

  • 16-inch alloy wheels

  • LED daytime running lights

  • Reversing camera

  • Climatec control

  • Heated front seats

  • Keyless start

  • 7-inch digital instrument cluster

  • 7-inch touchscreen

  • Autonomous emergency braking

  • Lane keep assist

  • Driver attention monitor

Sport (in addition to SE)

  • 17-inch alloy wheels

  • LED headlights

  • Leather steering wheel

  • Dual-zone climate control

Sport Executive (in addition to Sport)

  • Front and rear parking sensors

  • Self-parking functionality

  • Electrically folding door mirrors

  • 10.25-inch touchscreen

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

  • Wireless phone charging

AMG Line (in addition to Sport)

  • 18-inch alloy wheels

  • AMG bodystyling

  • Sports seats

  • Leather and Alcantara seats

  • Privacy glass

AMG Line Executive (in addition to AMG Line)

  • Self-parking parking

  • Electrically folding mirrors

  • 10.25-inch touchscreen

  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto

  • Wireless smartphone charging

AMG Line Premium (in addition to AMG Line Executive)

  • Keyless entry

  • 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster

  • 64-colour ambient interior lighting

  • Upgraded sound system

  • Augmented reality satellite navigation system

AMG Line Premium Plus (in addition to AMG Line Premium)

  • Multibeam LED headlights

  • Panoramic glass sunroof

  • Electric front seats

  • Traffic sign recognition

AMG Line Exclusive (in addition AMG Line Premium Plus)

  • 19-inch AMG alloy wheels

  • Gloss back styling kit

AMG Line Exclusive Plus (in addition to AMG Line Executive) 

  • Black 19-inch alloy wheels

  • Matte grey paintwork

The Mercedes A-Class is now available in the Smart Lease range for a limited time. Find out more about leasing a Mercedes A-Class.

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