Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review (2013-2018)
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a compact hatchback that's cost-effective, available with some useful high-tech features, and offers a wide range of models to choose from.
Published: 16 november 2022
The A-Class is the most affordable way to drive a Mercedes-Benz. This small hatchback is stylish and available in a range that includes efficient diesels and even performance-focused hot hatchbacks. This version of the A-Class, sold new between 2013 and 2018, is less costly to buy than the latest model, and can give you a premium car experience without the premium price tag.
- Premium-brand appeal
- Lots of tech
- Wide range of models
- Some rivals are more practical
- Sporty versions have a firm ride
- Diesels can be a bit noisy
Dashboard & tech
Although the oldest A-Classes of this model are now the best part of a decade old, the interior technology was advanced for its time. Most features are shown on a central, tablet-like screen on top of the dashboard and are controlled by a dial between the front seats. There are lots of features that you’ll have to spend a bit of time exploring, but it’s an intuitive system to use.
Mercedes updated the A-Class in 2015, with slight tweaks to the exterior, a different design of sports seats, optional comfort seats with extra support, and an option for colour-changing ambient lighting. These later-model cars also came with Apple CarPlay and Android, so look out for these if you want to easily connect your smartphone and your car. Sport and AMG Line trims had a larger 8-inch screen compared to earlier cars.
When it comes to interior comfort, you’ll find yourself in a very classy environment. The seats are very comfortable and hold you in place nicely while cornering. This is particularly true in the sporty AMG model, which has seats with larger side supports. You sit low in the car, which adds to the sporty feel when driving. The small rear window can make it tricky to see out of the back, although most models have parking sensors fitted to help you to manoeuvre.
The interior design is as sharp as you’d hope from a Mercedes, although some of the materials used don’t feel quite as plush as they look. An Audi A3 feels a bit more premium, but the Mercedes still feels like a high-quality place in which to sit.
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Practicality & boot space
As the smallest Mercedes you can buy, the A-Class isn’t exactly roomy, but those sitting up front won’t lack space. Passengers in the back might not be quite as happy though, because it’s not as spacious as rivals like the Audi A3 or Volkswagen Golf. Children will be fine in the back, but adults might want more room. It’s best to think of this as a car for singles or couples, rather than families.
There are several places to store odds and ends, including two covered compartments at the base of the dash and a pair of cupholders. Because the gear selector on automatic versions is on a stalk mounted behind the steering wheel there’s extra room between the front seats compared to most rivals. There’s also a compartment under the central armrest, a reasonable-size glovebox and relatively generous door pockets.
Practicality isn’t the A-Class’s strongest attribute, and the boot is on the small side for this type of car. You’ll get 341 litres of space, which compares to 365 litres in the Audi A3. A Volkswagen Golf will give you 380 litres. Access to the boot is a bit tighter than in some rivals, with a smaller opening that means loading larger items in can be tricky.
If you do need to carry larger loads, the back seats can be lowered, increasing the boot capacity to 1,157 litres, although that’s still smaller than the space offered by rival cars. The back seats fold in two sections, in a 60/40 split, which means you can carry long loads and still fit a passenger in the back.
Most A-Classes strike a decent balance between comfort and sportiness, although they don’t excel at either. If you just want your little Mercedes to look good and get you from A to B, then you’re unlikely to be disappointed, but there are rivals that will feel more fun to drive, including the Ford Focus and BMW 1 Series. The high-performance A45 AMG model is the exception to this.
The A-Class range was updated in 2015 with new features and mechanical tweaks. The ride in pre-facelift A-Classes feels a bit firm, but later models are more comfortable. Some post-2015 A-Classes were available with optional adaptive suspension, which lets you alter the stiffness between Sport (firm) and Comfort (soft) at the touch of a button. It’s an optional extra worth looking out for.
The A45 AMG is built for speed and handling rather than comfort, and the suspension is stiff to keep the car level around the bends. The downside is that the ride can feel very hard indeed. It’s great fun, but your passengers might be less than impressed by the comfort (or lack thereof) on a bumpy road.
You’ve got a choice between petrol and diesel power, with both manual and automatic gearboxes available, and front-wheel or four-wheel drive. This means you can choose between low-emission engines to suit around-town errands and more-powerful choices that will easily deal with longer motorway journeys. There’s also an exciting hot-hatch model (the A45 AMG), and a ‘warm’ hatch (the A250).
Fuel economy & CO2 emissions
A selection of diesel engines is available in the A-Class, which – because of their superior fuel economy – could be a better option if you do a lot of longer journeys. The A180 CDI/d model promises up to 74mpg, according to official figures. That said, that figure is based on tests that have been replaced with a new procedure designed to be more accurate. The more powerful A180 CDI/d and A220 CDI/d models promise mpg in the mid-60s.
The most efficient petrol engine is the A160, which can give you up to 52mpg. The A180 and A200 engines are almost as efficient and have extra power. The A45 AMG model favours performance over efficiency and will burn through petrol fairly quickly. If you’re after fun, a top-spec ‘regular’ petrol engine – the A250 – could prove to be the more frugal-but-fun choice.
Some models are available with all-wheel drive, which Mercedes calls 4Matic. These offer extra grip in slippery conditions compared to front-wheel-drive models, but at the expense of fuel economy.
It’s worth noting that later A-Classes, first registered from April 2017, are subject to different Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) rules. Some pre-facelift A180 CDI diesels are actually exempt from VED, and others will cost just £20 or £30 a year. The AMG models will cost up to £210 a year, but all later A-Classes are subject to a flat rate of £155 a year.
Value for money
With a wide choice of engines and trim levels, the A-Class can give you a premium badge and a lot of equipment for your money. There are more affordable cars of this type and size although most lack the appeal of the Mercedes brand. We recommend that you also check out the Audi A3 and the BMW 1 Series, both of which have their own appeal.
Reliability & Warranty
Mercedes as a brand didn’t fare particularly well in the J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study, with a below-average score. Mind you, it still fared better than Audi and BMW.
The A-Class came with a standard three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty, which will have expired by now. However, some models may still be covered if the previous owner took out an optional extended warranty.
Mercedes has an excellent reputation for safety as a brand, and while the A-Class is no longer at the cutting edge, it holds up well today. Safety organisation Euro NCAP tested the A-Class in 2012 and gave it the maximum five stars, although standards have since moved on. Post-facelift models have extra safety systems, including what Mercedes calls Collision Prevention Assist, which was an early incarnation of what became automatic emergency braking. Depending on the options specified when the car was new, you may also find one with lane-keeping assistance.
Trims & Engines
The trim levels in the A-Class changed over the years. At its debut in 2013, it was available in standard, SE, Sport and AMG Sport models, with the range topping out at the Engineered by AMG model. Soon afterwards the AMG Sport was replaced by AMG Line, and the Engineered by AMG model morphed into the A250 AMG – the sportiest model short of the very fast A45 AMG.
Various special edition models were also released, including the F1-inspired, diesel-powered Motorsport Edition, and the black and yellow AMG Yellow Night Edition.
The standard A-Class was relatively sparse for a premium car, with fabric upholstery, a CD/radio sound system, USB port and Bluetooth. Most of the used examples you find will be at least SE level, which has 16-inch alloy wheels and more-supportive sport seats.
The Sport model added 17-inch wheels, snazzier upholstery and cruise control, while the AMG Sport and AMG Line models added firmer suspension, which improved the cornering capability at the expense of some ride comfort. They also have upgraded brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels and a sportier steering wheel design.
The Engineered by AMG model – and the A250 AMG – has a different grille, red brake calipers and brighter bi-xenon headlights. Night models added tinted rear windows, black alloys and other black exterior elements.
The top-spec A45 AMG has 18-inch wheels and an extensive range of upgrades that give it a suitably sporty look and feel.
The larger the number in the Mercedes range, the more power in the engine. The entry-level petrol model is the A180, which is powered by a 1.6-litre engine with 120bhp. This should be enough to get around town with the occasional motorway journey thrown in, but it’s quite sedate in its acceleration up to 70mph. For a bit more oomph, check out the 154bhp A200, which is a good all-rounder.
The A250 has a sporty 2.0-litre engine with 208bhp, or 215bhp post-facelift, which makes for great acceleration. But if you’re really after top performance, the A45 AMG is for you. Its 2.0-litre engine has 355bhp, or 376bhp post-facelift, and the acceleration will rival top sports cars.
More diesels than petrols were sold of this version of the A-Class, so you’re more likely to find diesels secondhand.
The A180 CDI/d has 109bhp, which might be a bit lacking for motorway driving. Early versions used a 1.5-litre engine while later models were 1.8s with the same power. (In 2015 Mercedes changed the way it named its engines – diesel models released after that have the suffix ‘d’, rather than ‘CDI’.)
The 2.1-litre diesel engine will give you decent fuel economy, but it feels less smooth and noisier than equivalent rivals, and certainly chugs more fuel than other Mercedes engines. Still, the performance is very good, especially in the more-powerful A220 CDI/d, which has 168bhp, or 175bhp post-facelift, to give you more than enough acceleration for around town or for motorway use. The less-powerful version of the 2.1 engine, called the A200CDI/d, has 134bhp, which should be enough for most people but lacks the extra punch.
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