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Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5
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Premium image but rivals’ hatchbacks are better

PROS

  • Rakish, sporty styling
  • Low-emission diesel option
  • High brand values
  • Stunning A 45 performance

CONS

  • Expensive to buy
  • Not that exciting to drive
  • Ride comfort compromised
  • Servicing expensive

Verdict

Shunning the previous two generations’ MPV-like, high-roofed looks, the third iteration of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is sleeker and longer, with styling that could turn the heads of traditional Volkswagen Golf buyers.

Rivalling the likes of the Audi A3 Sportback, BMW 1 Series and Volvo V40 in the upper echelons of the mid-sized family hatch market, the A-Class itself is also the basis for several other cars.

Within the company’s own stable there are the coupe-esque Mercedes-Benz CLA and CLA Shooting Brake, while the firm’s also jumped on the smaller crossover bandwagon with the GLA. Fans of more functional family transport can ponder the Mercedes-Benz B-Class while the A-Class’s underpinnings and mechanicals are also shared with the British-built Infiniti Q30 and QX30 crossover.

Sportier styling, less space inside

Thanks to its low-to-the-ground shape, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class benefits from a low drag coefficient that has helped cut CO2 emissions to as low as 89g/km on the most fuel-efficient model.

The obvious downside to the A-Class’s slinkier lines is that not only is there less space for people and their luggage compared with the two previous generations, many of the Mercedes’ rivals are more capacious, too.

Not only might passengers struggle for space, especially in the back, but ride comfort is not an A-Class strong point either, especially on earlier models. Mercedes sought to rectify this as part of the 2015 facelift but the suppleness still lags behind its key competitors.

Safety innovations include fatigue detection, a self-parking function, voice-activated controls and blindspot monitors. Buyers will even get a standard-fit collision prevention assistance system that warns the driver if it thinks an accident is imminent and then preps the brakes for an emergency stop.

Facelifted A-Class range from 2015

A mild makeover was introduced in 2015 with the previously optional diamond-pattern grille becoming standard, along with new lights and bumpers front and rear. Buyers could choose between nine new alloy wheel designs and a refreshed palette of colours.

Inside new features were added including chrome touches on higher trims, sports seats with either green or red stripes and optional ambient lighting. Apple CarPlay and MirrorLink were also introduced for greater smartphone connectivity.

The AMG model also had some attention with the addition of a new Dynamic Plus package including a mechanical front axle locking differential, the AMG Ride Control sport suspension with adaptive damping and a fifth driving mode called Race.

Efficient range of A-Class engines

Mercedes expanded the A-Class’s petrol-fuelled line-up in 2016 with an A 160 derivative sitting at the range’s entry-point – it’s also the only model where the numerical aspect of the name accurately reflects its engine size, this being a turbocharged 1.6-litre.

The same basic unit also powers the A 180 and A 200, while a 2.0-litre turbo, producing 218hp, is fitted to the A 250. This latter model can also be specified with 4Matic four-wheel drive.

Diesels tend to be more popular with British A-Class buyers, with three motors to choose from: the A 180 d has a 1.5-litre Renault-sourced unit, while both the A 200 d and A 220 d feature Mercedes’ venerable 2.1-litre engine. Again, 4Matic is available on the most powerful version. All of the front-wheel drive diesel A-Classes have claimed fuel efficiency in excess of 65mpg.

High-performance Mercedes-AMG A 45

Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing an astonishing 381hp and crowning the A-Class line-up is the Mercedes-AMG A 45 (confusingly known as the Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG until 2015), complete with 4Matic to transmit that power to the ground.

Top speed is electronically limited to 155mph, while it scorches from 0-62mph in just 4.2 seconds.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback model history

  • June 2012 – Third-generation A-Class available to order with deliveries in December. More conventional five-door hatchback this time around, available in A 180, A 200 and A 250 petrol forms, and A 180 CDI and A 200 CDI diesels. Trim levels are standard, SE, Sport, AMG Sport and Engineered by AMG.
  • August 2013 – A 45 AMG available to order, complete with 4Matic four-wheel drive and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. With 360hp on tap it’s the most powerful 2.0-litre engine available.
  • November 2013 – Line-up expanded with the low-emission A 180 CDI ECO SE producing just 92g/km of CO2 courtesy of its lower suspension and aerodynamic underbody. Four-wheel drive A 250 4Matic models flesh out the opposite end of the range in AMG Sport and Engineered by AMG trims.
  • July 2015 – Facelifted and mechanically enhanced range available to order with deliveries from September. New lights and revised bumpers subtly mark the changes, with suspension modifications to improve the ride quality. Naming conventions altered, with previous CDI diesels simply having a ‘d’ suffix; previous A 45 AMG renamed Mercedes-AMG A 45, with power increased to 381hp. Emissions for the A 180 d dip to 89g/km, while the A 220 d is available with 4Matic four-wheel drive. Revised trim structure includes the A 250 d Motorsport Edition with a colour scheme aping Mercedes-AMG’s F1 team.
  • June 2016 – Petrol-engined A 160 with 102hp introduced in SE, Sport and AMG Line trims.
  • March 2017 – Tweaked trim levels with the White Art Edition replacing the previous Motorsport Edition, but available with all engines permutations except for the AMG A 45. The performance flagship AMG A 45 also became available in Yellow Night Edition form.

Is the sleeker third-generation model the premium family hatchback to be seen in? Read the full Mercedes-Benz A-Class review to find out.

What owners say about this car

The car looks nice and with the power on offer it goes well too. The interior looks impressive to start... Read owner review

Bought the car new dealer sales person was great, then thats it worst dealer experience ever car broke down after... Read owner review

I do not do I high mileage, or many long journeys , so overall the car is a great blend... Read owner review

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