Premium image but rivals’ hatchbacks are better
- Rakish, sporty styling
- Low-emission diesel option
- High brand values
- Stunning A 45 performance
- Expensive to buy
- Not that exciting to drive
- Ride comfort compromised
- Servicing expensive
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.
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.
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.
The Parkers Verdict
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is proof positive that a car's success isn't directly related to how good it is. It's not that the A-Class is a bad car – it's just that for your money, there are many more capable cars out there.
But despite it not being a class-leading product, there is a lot to like about the A-Class. It looks good, oozes image, and is available with some very good finance deals. There are some very low-emission engine options available, too, so if you're looking to keep down your tax (and fuel bills), here's a very safe choice.
The AMG A 45 is far from a dull option, though. It's savagely fast, and great to drive. But you're paying handsomely for the the excitement – especially when you start looking at the Ford Focus RS Mountune.
Is the sleeker third-generation model the premium family hatchback to be seen in? Read on for 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