- Mercedes’s A-Class hatchback range makes perfect company car choice
- We drill down between engines and trims to find ideal model for you
- Efficient and economical diesel engines shine, though manual gearbox best avoided
When Mercedes launched the first A-Class back in 1997 it literally shook the establishment, and not just because it rolled over at the first sign of an elk. The firm’s first exploration of a small car delivered a practical and innovative family-orientated model that has since spearheaded a raft of competitors from Mercedes’ premium rivals.
But despite the original car’s worthiness, it took until the third generation – arriving in 2013 – for the model to capture the hearts and heads of buyers. Moving away from the quasi-MPV styling and packaging, this latest model may be far more conventional hatchback but it’s also far more desirable.
The range is huge as well, with models stretching from the eco-friendly 78.5mpg A180 CDI ECO to the fire-breathing A45 AMG with over 350bhp. Add to that a range of model trims, and a huge array of optional extras, and choosing the perfect A-Class can look a little tricky. We’ve broken the range down to ensure you don’t make the wrong decision.
There are six engines to choose from; three petrol and three diesel. Don’t be fooled by the badges though, the A180 petrol is actually a 1.6-litre unit, while the A250 is actually a 2.0-litre unit. Same goes for the diesel, since all three (A180, A200 and A220 CDI) use the same 2.1-litre four-cylinder engine but in different states of tune.
While the performance of the petrol models - and the A250 in particular - may appeal, for those keen to keep their BIK rates low it’s the diesel-engined cars that make the most sense. The 2.1-litre engine isn’t the most refined in the world, and you’ll notice some serious clatter at start-up, but at least the most powerful A220 CDI takes some of the edge off that. Driven with a heavy right foot it’ll complete the 0-62mph sprint in just 7.9 seconds.
With the automatic gearbox, which is the only option on this engine – good news because the manual is awful – it emits only 109g/km of CO2. Drive it gently and there’s a chance you’ll get close to the official 67mpg quoted by the manufacturer as well. The 33bhp less powerful A200 CDI only manages 106g/km and 68mpg, so the drop in performance isn’t worth the increase in efficiency.
If you really must chase the ultimate in CO2 emissions then the A180 SE ECO is the one to choose; this most-efficient A-Class pumps out only 92g/km – as long as you can put up with the manual gearbox. Considering this car costs £69 per month (on the 20 percent pay-scale) we’d pay the extra £11 each month for the A220 CDI.
There are five trim levels available on the Mercedes A-Class, starting with the standard specification, SE, Sport, AMG Sport and Engineered by AMG – the latter is only available with the turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol, so is easy to discount here. Regardless of which model chosen all A-Class’ come with alloy wheels, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity as well as air-conditioning.
The only issue is this larger more powerful engine only comes in AMG Sport trim. That’s no bad thing, as these models come with 17-inch alloy wheels, Sports bodystyling, sports seats in Artico leather, cruise control and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
There’s no sat-nav included as standard, but it does come with the pre-wiring for the Becker Map Pilot which is a £495 option and will add sat-nav to the tablet-like display on top of the dashboard. That will add only around £1.50 per month onto your BIK bills.
Sports suspension is actually a no-cost option but we’d urge anyone considering this to try and drive one with this setup first as it’s incredibly firm riding – even the Lowered Comfort suspension setup can be a little crashy.
And while the Harmon Kardon upgraded audio system sounds nice, its £680 price means you’ll really have to be a proper audiophile to feel the aural benefit financially. The same goes for the £530 climate control; stick with the standard air-conditioning and save your money.
So the total P11D of a Mercedes A220CDI AMG Sport, with the Becker Map Pilot installed? A not inconsiderable £28,200, which means you’ll pay £79.91 as a 20-percent tax payer. For that you’ll get one of the sharpest-looking hatchbacks on the market that is also economical, efficient, well-equipped and comfortable. And it wears that famous three-pointed star on its nose too.
You can read the full Parkers Mercedes A-Class review here.