Which Mercedes-Benz A-Class should you buy?

  • Mercedes-Benz's stylish hatchback examined 
  • Lots of engine and trim level choices, plus hot AMG version
  • Which combination is right for you?

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class used to be a high-roofed quasi people-carrier, but nowadays it’s a hatchback with plenty of built-in practicality and slinkier looks than before.

There are three diesels, four petrols, five trim levels and a hot AMG version too, so it can be a little hard to pick the right combination for you. That’s why we’ve put the range under our microscope to find out which versions make the most sense.

To find an A-Class in your area visit our Cars for Sale page, and make sure you get a valuation on your current car as well. For more information about funding your next car head over to the Finance Section.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class specification

The main model line-up revolves around three key trims: SE, Sport and AMG Line.

There are a couple of more restrictive versions too like the Motorsport Edition, 250 AMG and the Mercedes-AMG A 45, which we’ll also run through.

Standard line-up

Kicking things off is SE trim, which is only available with the bottom two petrol and diesel engines. It includes:

  • 16-inch alloy wheels
  • Man-made "leather" seats
  • Reversing camera
  • Seven-inch display screen
  • Halogen headlamps
  • Cruise control with limiter
  • Air-con

Next up is Sport, which gives the A-Class more of a performance look. You can have this with the bottom two diesel engines and all of the petrols except the largest A 250 and A 45. Here you get:

  • 17-inch alloy wheels
  • Dynamic Select (Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual driving modes)
  • Illuminated door sills
  • Rain-sensing windscreen wipers
  • Stainless steel twin-tailpipes
  • Eight-inch display screen
  • Automatic climate control

The last of the core trims is AMG Line, which is available for all the diesels and the three main petrols - excluding A 250 and A 45 as with Sport trim. This includes:

  • 18-inch AMG alloy wheels
  • AMG bodykit
  • Front brake calipers with Mercedes-Benz motif
  • Lowered comfort suspension
  • Sports steering
  • AMG floor mats
  • Brushed stainless steel sports pedals
  • Carbonfibre-look trim
  • Sports seats
  • Flat-bottomed steering wheel

Special editions

We’ve separated these three trims out because they come with either very few engine choices or just the one option.

First up is the Motorsport Edition (pictured above), which can only be selected with the top diesel engine, and slightly confusingly was inspired by the not-diesel Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 championship-winning car. Anyway, this adds:

  • 18-inch AMG alloy wheels
  • Gloss black exterior detailing
  • Electrically folding door mirrors
  • LED headlamps with Adaptive Highbeam Assist
  • Automatic parking
  • Petrol green interior finishes
  • Ambient lighting with 12 colours
  • AMG floor mats
  • Automatically dimming rear-view mirror
  • Dashboard in man-made "leather"
  • Four-way lumbar support, heated front sports seats
  • Garmin sat-nav system

Next is the top-tier standard petrol, the A 250, which comes with one engine its own trim level called 250 AMG, as shown below:

It’s a warm performance hatch that sits below the fully fledged A 45 AMG. This gets you:

  • 18-inch AMG alloy wheels
  • AMG speed-sensitive power steering
  • Red brake calipers
  • Electrically folding exterior mirrors
  • LED headlamps with Adaptive Highbeam Assist
  • Lowered sports suspension
  • Engineered by AMG electronic stability programme
  • Automatic parking
  • Red interior and exterior trim
  • Ambient lighting with 12 colours
  • Automatically dimming rear-view mirror
  • Red Designo seatbelts
  • Floor mats with red stitching
  • Heated front seats
  • Garmin sat-nav

Finally there’s the Mercedes-AMG A 45, a stand-alone hot hatchback offering huge amounts of speed and a long list of kit with AMG written on it.

This includes:

  • 18-inch AMG alloy wheels
  • AMG body kit with front and rear bumpers, side skirts, grille, spoiler and twin tailpipes
  • AMG interior styling including floor mats, instrument cluster, sports seats and steering wheel
  • AMG braking system with red calipers, plus speed-sensitive steering
  • AMG Speedshift automatic sports transmission
  • AMG-tuned electronic stability programme and sports suspension
  • AMG Dynamic Select (Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual driving modes)

In addition there are Executive, Premium and Premium Plus equipment lines, adding everything from sat-nav to a panoramic glass sunroof to your A-Class.

Standard engines

There’s a full run-down of technical data in our Facts and Figures section, but here’s an overview of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class engine line-up.

The three diesels on offer are called A 180d, A 200d and A 220d. The first is a 1.5-litre unit and the second two both displace 2.1-litres. Power ranges from 108bhp for the entry engine and then 134bhp and 175bhp for the larger engines.

You get a standard six-speed manual on the first two, with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic option. The latter is standard on the A 220d, which is also four-wheel drive only. Pace ranges from 11.3 seconds to 7.5 seconds (0-62mph) depending on engine and gearbox configuration.

The A 180d offers the lowest emissions and best fuel economy but in fact all diesel engines produce less than 107g/km, even with big wheels and four-wheel drive. Manual cars tend to use more fuel too, with the A 200d’s 65mpg representing the lowest in the diesel range.

Petrol engines are called A 160, A 180 and A 200, and are all 1.6-litres in size – but you get a choice of 100bhp, 120bhp and 154bhp respectively.

Pace from 0-62mph is broadly similar to the diesel range, ranging from 10.6 seconds to 7.8 seconds.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard and a seven-speed dual-clutch auto is an option.

CO2 emissions are higher than the diesels across the board, from 119g/km in the A 160 to 132g/km in the A 200. All variants fall between 50-55mpg but the auto ‘boxes do better.

The automatic versions are also much nicer to drive, although the gearshift stalk located behind the steering wheel takes a bit of getting used to, and the six-speed manual used after the 2015 facelift is much better than before. Refinement is high across most of the range, with the ageing and clattery 2.1-litre diesel representing a slight low point.

The fast A-Classes

The choice here is whether to pick the warmed-up A 250 or the fully-hot A 45 AMG. Both use a 2-litre unit, but while the first comes in two- or four-wheel drive, the latter is four-wheel drive only.

Pick the front-drive A 250 and you’ll get a six-speed manual box with the seven-speed dual-clutch auto used elsewhere in the range as an option. However, both the four-wheel drive A 250 and A 45 use an AMG Speedshift sports transmission exclusively.

Power-wise there’s 215bhp in the A 250 and 376bhp in the A 45, with a similar gulf in 0-62mph times. The first car cracks the benchmark sprint in 6.3 seconds regardless of variant, while the AMG version races off in just 4.2 seconds.

Fuel economy takes a bit of a plunge in these cars with the A 250 versions claiming between 40-45mpg and the A 45 offering as low as 38.7mpg if you go for the 19-inch wheels. Again, the automatic A 250 has the lowest CO2 emissions (145g/km) and the A45 is the highest with 171g/km with the big wheel upgrade.

Verdict

As you can see, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class trim levels of SE, Sport and AMG Line mostly affect the look of the car, so in order to get good value for money and a long list of kit, we’d recommend sticking with Sport and buying one of the equipment packs.

Engine-wise the diesel line-up, particularly the 2.1-litre A 200d and A 220d, offer much in terms of performance and economy, but are not the most refined units. For this you’ll want a petrol, and we think the A200 is a great all-rounder.

If high performance is on your radar there’s a lot to like about the fully fledged Mercedes-AMG A 45, but it’s not an easy car to live with day-to-day thanks to hard suspension and high running costs.

We think the A 250 offers plenty of pace with lower bills and a more affable ride too.

 

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