Mercedes-Benz A-Class Review

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a premium small car with a luxurious interior and some very advanced tech.

Published: 16 November 2022

  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2018- review

Summary

If you want a small car with the prestige of a luxury model, then you’re unlikely to go wrong with the latest A-Class. The smallest Mercedes-Benz had a complete redesign in 2018, which included a high-tech interior that’s very similar to the one in the company’s top-of-the-range S-Class limousine. The A-Class is available as a five-door hatchback or as a saloon and there’s a range of petrol and diesel engines and hybrid power to choose from, as well as several trim levels.

Pros

  • Luxurious interior
  • Stunning infotainment system
  • Impressive safety features

Cons

  • Limited back-seat space
  • Some rivals have larger boots
  • Not particularly sporty to drive
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Interior

Dashboard & tech

The interior is where the A-Class really shines. There are two big screens on the dashboard. They look like one unit but are actually split into two displays – one for the driver and one touchscreen for the infotainment. On lower trims the screens are seven inches across; on the higher trims both are 10.25-inches. Through them you can access Bluetooth, DAB radio, live traffic info, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which are included as standard on all but the lowest Sport trim. 

Sensibly, Mercedes has paired the screens with driver controls on the steering wheel and a touchpad between the front seats, so you can use buttons to control the various systems if you prefer. This can often be easier, especially when on the move. In general the system – called MBUX – is very intuitive. You also get a voice control system, which is one of the best you’ll find: say ‘Hey Mercedes’ and you can ask for navigation, change the interior temperature or call a friend, among many other features. 

Also packaged as standard are USB-C ports for recharging devices, cruise control, electric windows and a rear parking camera.

Comfort

The A-Class has what Mercedes calls ‘comfort’ seats on lower trims that are well-cushioned and easy to adjust. The three AMG hatchback and saloon trims have upgraded ‘sports’ seats, which are a bit firmer and give you more support around corners. All trims get heated front seats as standard and the AMG trims have vegan leather options that feel super supple.

Quality

The design and quality of the A-Class are top-notch – you won’t find anything comparable in its direct rivals. Only the Audi A3 really gets close, but even then the sharp looks and tech of the Mercedes puts it ahead. Everything feels very solidly put together with high quality materials. Overall, it’s the best interior of any car of this type, even nicer than many larger, more expensive cars.

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Practicality & boot space

Interior space

There’s loads of legroom and headroom for driver and front-seat passenger and the back’s not bad either, with enough space for shorter adults and kids to feel comfortable. It’s easy to get in and out of, and the doors open wide so fitting a child-seat is a breeze. But it can feel a bit cramped in the back if you’re tall or when all three seats are in use.

All the doors have storage bins big enough for two 500ml bottles, as well as sundries like a sandwich, a bag of crisps and other small items. The cupholders are nice and deep and can fit a big takeaway coffee. The glovebox and storage under the centre armrest are a reasonable size but not especially large. There’s also a hidden compartment in the middle back seat, which folds down as an armrest if no one’s sitting there. The front seats have storage pockets for the back passengers to slot books, tablets or snacks into.

Boot space

The petrol version of the A-Class has a pretty standard-sized boot for a larger hatchback. You get 355 litres of space with the seats up, which is a little smaller than the Audi A3 but 10 litres bigger than the latest BMW 1 Series. It’s wide enough for two large suitcases side by side and two duffle bags on top, which should be plenty for a decently long holiday. The big opening makes it easier to load and unload stuff than in the A3 boot.

The A250e plug-in hybrid hatchback has a slightly smaller 310-litre boot, but it gives you  1,125 litres of space when you fold down the back seats. The diesel model’s boot is also smaller than the petrol version, but only by 10 litres.

If you often go away with friends, then you might want the 420-litre boot in the A-Class Saloon. The extra 65 litres gives you room for an extra suitcase, although the actual boot opening is smaller than in the hatchback.

Versatility

The back seats in the hatchback and saloon A-Class fold down almost totally flat, in a 40/20/40 split. Just release them with the lever on top of each seat. This makes them very practical for different combinations of luggage and passengers. With everything folded down, you get almost 1,200 litres of space – enough room for a flat-pack furniture shop, or a trip to the dump.

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Driving

Driving experience

The A-Class prioritises relaxation over sportiness in terms of how it feels to drive. It’s a very good choice if you want to have a smooth, refined ride and aren’t particularly fussed about how agile or responsive it is. That said, it drives well, feeling composed and solid – it’s essentially a small version of Mercedes’ larger, more executive cars. It’s very quiet, especially at higher speeds, so it’s great on the motorway. 

The high-performance Mercedes-AMG models are a different story, feeling much sharper and nimble through the corners, although you sacrifice a level of comfort to achieve that agility. Some rival hot hatches offer a bit more outright fun while driving, but there’s no doubting the competence of the A-Class.

Performance

You can choose from among petrol and diesel engines and a plug-in hybrid option. Most give you good acceleration for overtaking and getting up to motorway speed, although the A180 petrol option lacks oomph at higher speeds, and is better suited to urban driving.

The plug-in hybrid A250e model has zippy acceleration but again is ideal for urban customers, thanks to its ability to run on zero-emissions electric power.

The Mercedes-AMG models are very fast indeed, designed for enthusiasts who want a thrilling, sporty drive. Both AMG models – the A35 and the A45S – have four-wheel drive, while most other models are front-wheel drive.

The majority of A-Class models have smooth-shifting automatic gearboxes, but the A180 petrol model is available with a six-speed manual gearbox.

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Running costs

Fuel economy & CO2 emissions

This A-Class holds up against rivals like the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series when it comes to fuel economy. The petrol models give you an average economy of 31mpg to 47.9mpg, according to official figures. The Mercedes-AMG models are the least efficient, as they prioritise performance over fuel savings.

If you really want to eke out the most from a tank of fuel, go for the plug-in hybrid A250e. Officially, it promises up to 282.5mpg, although real-world economy will depend on how you drive the car and whether you keep the battery charged to maximise your electric-only driving time.

Those doing regular long journeys might want to consider the diesel engines, which promise between 55.4mpg to 58.9mpg. There’s hardly any difference between the hatchback and saloon models in terms of efficiency.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions range from 135g/km to 156g/km for petrol models and up to 193g/km for the AMG models. Diesel models emit 117g/km to 135g/km and the plug-in hybrid version emits just 24g/km of CO2, which is great for anyone looking for a company car because it sits in a low Benefit-in-Kind tax bracket.

Value for money

The A-Class can be more expensive than some other cars of this size, but it’s impressive value for money considering the quality and prestige you get. It’s the most affordable path to Mercedes ownership and running costs are very reasonable.

Reliability & Warranty

Mercedes-Benz as a brand doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability: it finished with a below-average score in the J.D. Power 2019 UK Vehicle Dependability Study. That said, its close rivals Audi and BMW fared even worse.

The A-Class comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty from new, which is better than some premium rivals that put a limit on how far you can drive before the cover ends.

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Safety

Safety features

The A-Class scored a full five-star rating after tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP. 

Loads of safety features are included as standard, including lane-keep assist to stop you straying into another lane, a speed limit warning system and automatic emergency braking. AMG models come with a Driver Assist Package that includes blind-spot assistance and distance assist, which maintains the correct distance from the vehicle in front. All models have Isofix child-seat mounts in the outer rear seats.

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Trims & Engines

Trim levels

There are six trim levels available on the A-Class, The two more affordable models are the Sport and the Sport Executive Edition, while there are also several versions of the sportier AMG Line model. These are AMG Line Executive Edition, AMG Line Premium Edition, AMG Line Premium Plus Edition and AMG Line Premium Plus Night Edition. The Sport and Sport Executive Edition are the most affordable trims while the AMG Line cars are more luxurious and a bit more expensive. They have extra features that mark them out, such as more flamboyant bodystyling, bigger touchscreens and heated seats.

The A-Class is a premium small car so you get a lot of features as standard for the price you pay. All models have a large touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as ambient lighting. Top-of-the-range models have a sunroof and privacy glass as well as plush, leather-covered and electrically adjustable seats.

Engines

There are petrol and diesel engines available in the A-Class, as well as a plug-in hybrid option. Petrol versions include a 1.3-litre engine called the A180 and another with slightly more power, called the A200. You can also get 2.0-litre petrol models called the A220 and the A250. The power of the petrol models ranges between 134bhp and 221bhp.

Both the AMG models are petrol powered and use a 2.0-litre engine. The A35 has 302bhp, while the A45 S has a very substantial 416bhp, which makes it one of the most powerful hot hatches you can buy.

The diesel A-Classes use 2.0-litre engines. The entry-level is the A180d and it’ll be fine for a lot of customers, with enough power (148bhp) for just about any occasion. If you want a bit more zip, there’s also a more powerful 188bhp A200d.

The plug-in hybrid A250e combines a 1.3-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and battery. Keep the battery topped up whenever you can and it has the potential to give you brilliant fuel economy. It can do up to 44 miles on electric power alone, so if most of your journeys are shorter than that, a tank of fuel could last months.

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