A worthy baby Benz
- Stunning interior
- Packed with (genuinely useful) tech
- Comfortable cruiser
- Good automatic gearbox
- Could be more fun to drive
- Lack of engine choices from launch
- Climate control not standard
- No manual option from launch
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the smallest and cheapest model in the manufacturer’s range and comes exclusively in five-door hatchback form. Rivals in the premium hatchback market are few and far between, however the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series both provide stiff competition, as does – to a lesser extent – the Lexus CT, Infiniti Q30 and Volkswagen Golf.
Now in its fourth generation, the A-Class is playing the baby Benz card more than ever, with a raft of high-tech equipment, an impressively premium cabin and a more eye-catching design. Is it enough to put the A-Class at the top of the premium hatchback pile? Read on to find out.
Stunning cabin and impressive onboard tech
Mercedes has raised the bar with the A-Class’s cabin, delivering an impressive blend of design and technology in its entry-level model. The interior itself is dominated by the dual screen setup (available in 7.0- and 10.25-inch guises) that controls and displays almost all of the car's auxiliary functions.
It’s similar to the set-up you’d find in a more expensive E-Class or S-Class, and gives the cabin a premium feel that none of its rivals can match. Our only criticism is that the touchpad controller isn’t as easy to use as the rotary dial found in the A-Class’s main rivals.
Improved cabin and bootspace
A slightly cramped cabin was a common complaint levelled at the previous generation A-Class, with Mercedes working hard to change the perception for the new model. As a result, there’s noticeably more room in the front and back, meaning you can seat four adults plus a child in comfort.
The bootspace has also been stretched and the loading aperture widened, making it easier to load awkward, heavy items.
Three engines on offer
More petrol and diesel engines (and a hybrid) are on the way, but until then the engine line-up is very straightforward. It consists of two petrols (the A 200 and A 250) and one diesel (A 180 d). The biggest seller is likely to be the 116hp 1.5-litre turbodiesel, although the 163hp 1.3-litre A 200 petrol is also set to prove popular.
All engines come as standard with a seven-speed DCT automatic transmission as standard. It’s a good gearbox and, once you’ve got used to the steering column-mounted selector, is a doddle to operate.
Out on the road, the A-Class is focused more towards comfort than handling, resulting in a predictable, stable drive. It’s not the last word in fun, but does provide plenty of cornering grip; there’s decent promise on display for the AMG model.
The ride comfort is well judged, however it’s worth pointing out that we’ve yet to drive a car on the most common suspension and wheel size configuration found in the UK.
Three trim levels, all are well-equipped
No matter which of the triumvirate of trims you opt for, you’ll get a generous selection of standard equipment to enjoy. For example, all cars come with sat-nav, cruise control, two 7.0-inch displays, a DAB radio and a suite of advanced safety systems included in the price. The only odd omission is dual-zone climate control only featuring as standard on Sport and AMG Line cars.
However, to get the best out of the A-Class, it’s worth diving into the options list for a couple of select additions. The Premium equipment line increases the size of the dual displays to 10 inches, while the Smartphone Connect package enables Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity.
The Parkers Verdict
Mercedes has done what it needed to do with the A-Class. The interior is a step up from anything we’ve seen in this category, while the on-board tech and driver assistance systems are exceptional.
It’s not just the complicated bits Mercedes has got right either. The A-Class is more refined and better to drive than the previous model and can now compete with rivals such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
However, with the launch of their replacements just around the corner, it remains to be seen just how competitive the A-Class will be in the long run. For now, however, it’s a mightily attractive proposition.
Read on for the full Parkers Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback review