• The latest Mercedes A Class apes the successful formula of the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series
  • The A-class eschews the tall, boxy profile of old
  • Contour lines give a dynamic profile
  • Headlight design eats into boot opening
  • Roof spoiler helps reduce the car's drag coefficient
  • Interior is well constructed, with a premium ambience
  • Standalone screen displays navigation and communicaton information
  • Dials are similar to those found in the Mercedes SLS supercar
  • Entry is tricky, but there's plenty of room up front
  • Rear head and leg-room is average for the class
  • Boot space is competetive but narrow opening makes loading bulky items a struggle
  • A200 CDI suffers from a slight torque defecit compared to rivals
  • 1.8-litre diesel provides strong, but not class leading performance
  • The A-class is grippy and capable, but lacks the adjustable balance of a true hot hatch
  • Taught body control inspires confidence in the bends
  • An overtly sporty nature and a lack of ride comfort mean the A-class will divide opinion

As a brand statement, this A-class was intended to herald a new dynamism for Mercedes-Benz.

In several significant ways, it does. Visually, it is a sharpened arrowhead of a car; inside, it speaks to the quality and class of the badge.

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The A-class is a divisive car. It appeals with its new looks and sporty demeanor, but its hard ride may limit its chances of success in the UK.

These attention-getting elements are intertwined with clever, cleaner engines, great proportions and dialled-in handling to jump-start the kind of enviable allure that has been absent from small Mercedes in the past. Yet while its imaginative predecessor ran contrary to the path plotted by cars such as the Audi A3, the latest A-class flatters its rival by reproducing not only its strengths, but also its perceived weaknesses.

In attempting to harness the high-end athleticism that Ingolstadt has made its own, Mercedes has produced a model shorn of the fundamental comfort so essential to success in the UK.

Because of this, and despite invoking enough raw desirability to snare its audience, the A-class can’t qualify for the class-leading status its makers would have been aiming for.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    22 December 2014
    Entry-level diesel MPV shares its three-cylinder engine with Mini but, due to long gearing, lacks the authoritative punch of a convincing premium product
  • Car review
    17 December 2014
    The replacement for the CL grand tourer has some big boots to fill
  • Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 AMG Line Shooting Brake review
    First Drive
    16 December 2014
    Elegant, alluring and with some welcome improvements, but not good enough to lead the class
  • First Drive
    15 December 2014
    Hushed, flexible and remarkable value for money. Arguably more fit-for-purpose than any other ‘S’.
  • 2015 Mazda CX-3 review
    First Drive
    12 December 2014
    The Mazda CX-3 has style and substance, and deserves consideration for anyone wanting a compact urban SUV. Here’s hoping Mazda gets the price and equipment right