From £25,800
The wide array of specced options to try made the latest-generation A-Class a long-term story with room to develop

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2018 road test review hero front

This new version is the most luxurious A-Class yet, but has Mercedes made it a class leader?

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2019 long-term

Why we ran it: To see if this VW Golf rival has come of age, and to pick the ‘perfect’ version

Month 8Month 7 - Month 6Month 5Month 4Month 3Month 2Month 1 - Specs

Life with a Mercedes A-Class: Month 8

We’ve spent nine months nailing down the ideal A-Class. What’s the verdict? - 26th June 2019

To date, the fourth-generation A-Class is Britain’s fifth best-selling car of the year, behind the likes of Ford’s Fiesta and Focus, the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Golf – cars which would likely fill those top four slots even if hell did in fact freeze over. Fifth, then, is the real quiz making the A-Class Britain’s best-selling premium car.

It illustrates just how far the entry-level Mercedes has come, from awkward mini-MPV to toppling nearly every other car on the road in sales terms and becoming part of our motoring furniture in the process.

With so many being bought, it’s a given that lots of different versions are offered: not only the usual engines, transmissions, and trims but also different suspension hardware, the number of driven wheels and the levels of input from AMG, and that’s before the inevitable arrival of any electrified versions – and all to appeal to as many different buyers as possible.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Which is why we ran three distinct flavours of A-Class and briefly sampled a couple more to find out exactly where the sweet spot of the range is. A range which, remember, on initial acquaintance revealed an occasional Jekyll and Hyde character in certain areas, such as ride and transmission, depending on which version you went for.

Before we get into the nuances of each version, one thing that each A-Class had in common was a really classy feel. Some cars just feel ‘right’ and are able to seamlessly fit in with your life. The A-Class is a right-sized car, big enough to feel substantial and comfortable on a long run, yet small and nimble enough to nip around town. The driving position, the pedal positioning and weighting, the visibility and the adjustability of the steering wheel and seat were all spot on. That practically everything you interact with was of a high perceived and actual quality, and that inside and out it looked great, all just made you feel good and added up to a compelling ownership proposition.

It’s all very, well, Golf-like – which is just the kind of praise Mercedes would be looking for with the A-Class. It has the kind of classy, quality ubiquity that’s ideal for introducing your brand to buyers.

We started our test with an A180d, then the sole diesel option as a 1.5-litre with 114bhp (but since joined by a 2.0-litre with 148bhp in the A200d and 187bhp in the A220d). Our A180d had a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox and the entry-level torsion beam rear suspension that models lower down the A-Class ladder use instead of the multi-link rear end that more potent models benefit from.

What really shone through with the car was how relevant diesel remains as an option for people who travel big miles. It’s a point we made when we returned the A180d to Mercedes but it’s one worth repeating now. At times the A180d averaged more than 60mpg, meaning infrequent fill-ups that are welcome when you’re travelling some 2000 miles a month, as we were. That economy didn’t come at the expense of performance, either, with the A180d being particularly punchy at low revs and not wanting for performance even at a 70mph motorway cruise.

Yet the car had a major flaw. Its seven-speed DCT was far too slowwitted off the line, meaning the halfsecond gaps in traffic you’d normally go for had to be passed over in favour of two-second gaps in order to give the car the thinking time it needed when you pressed your right foot.

While improved, the same transmission still wasn’t perfect in the subsequent A200 and A250 petrol versions we ran, both of which came in AMG Line spec. In short, it’s a transmission we’d steer you clear of in pursuit of the perfect A-Class. And just for confirmation, when we tried a sweet-shifting manual gearbox in an A180 petrol version, all of those problems went away…

The ride on the A180d’s less sophisticated rear suspension was not as supple as the multi-link set-up of the A200 and A250, but neither was it deal-breakingly so. If you did short drives swapping between the two, and you didn’t know which one you were in, you might not be able to instantly tell which set-up you were on, but the torsion beam did give the car a slightly crashier ride over more abrasive surfaces, and you’d feel a touch more tired over a longer journey for being in the car. But small margins, for sure.

As 2018 became 2019, the A180d was replaced by the A200 AMG Line, with 161bhp 1.3-litre petrol turbo power. Such downsized petrol engines typically lack any real top-end performance and fare even worse in terms of real-world economy, but not so here. Remarkably, we’d see 50mpg on longer drives, and the performance was more akin to that of a cooking hatch than a lower-midrange option. This was a real sweet spot of the range, and my pick of the engines we tested.

That’s not to diminish the A250, however. The range topper until the recent arrival of the A35 AMG (itself soon to be superseded by the 415bhp A45 AMG), the 221bhp A250 had a real muscularity to its power delivery and felt not dissimilar to a Golf GTI. And yet – surprise, surprise – it still managed nearly 40mpg itself.

For me, you got as much fun in the real world in the A200, which felt usefully more nimble in its handling. On that point, the A-Class is very much Golf-like in its dynamic performance, too, with just the right blend of comfort and fun, rather than being at the sharpest end of the hatchback class with the Ford Focus.

The trio also allowed us to explore different specs and options. We started with a mid-range Sport (wanting for little), before two AMG Line models (better looking, greater dynamism) to represent the most popular A-Class trim. While there are, of course, spec differences between trims, even the most basic SE doesn’t feel cheap or poorly equipped. You can change just as much by selecting various equipment packages, such as the £1395 Executive Package that upgrades the central screen to a larger display as its main party piece. It’s an option we’d push you towards.

So just what is the ‘perfect’ A-Class? Well, it could well be one I have yet to try but which, given what our experience has taught us, I’m pretty darn sure would tick every box: an A200 with a manual gearbox and in the AMG Line trim that brings with it the multi-link rear-end, and the aforementioned Executive Package. That’ll do nicely.

Second Opinion

As the one-time owner of an original ‘short’ A-Class, I’m delighted to see Merc’s small car do well. Buyers of affordable cars deserve the best efforts of the greatest car makers too. I liked all of these, but my favourite — easily — was the A180d, for its affordability (MBUK makes cars very easy to buy), its class, its gearbox and its fantastic economy. How can anyone object to a modern diesel like this? Beats me.

Steve Cropley

Back to the top

Love it:

Interior quality Nothing in the class gets close for blending visual flair with usability – and with a quality feel.

Real-world economy Petrol or diesel, powerful or not, visits to the pumps were infrequent no matter what A-Class we were in.

ride/handling blend Tricky to nail in this class, but the A can be enjoyed by keen drivers and those who care little for dynamics.

Loathe it:

Automatic gearbox Just too slow to react off the line. All three we tried suffered to varying degrees.

Assistance systems The likes of Active Lane Keeping Assist are supposedly a help; sharp tugs at the wheel are anything but.

Final mileage: 7190

Back to the top

Economy trumps the colour of your petrol pump - 5th June 2019

I think the A-Class’s hatchback class marks the threshold for where petrol is viable for everyday running costs and performance, as the near-50mpg on a motorway run of the potent A250 illustrates. It shows how valid all power sources – petrol, diesel, hybrid, electric – are, depending on a car’s size and weight. Ignore the noise and choose wisely.


Mileage: 5111

Back to the top

Life with a Mercedes A-Class: Month 7

Are you sitting comfortably? - 15th May 2019

Comfort has been a popular topic in Autocar of late and the cabin of the A250 AMG Line highlights how car makers can get it right. Little things can make a difference, such as these electronic seat adjusters. Mounted high on the doors, they allow you to make small changes in your eyeline without fumbling for a lever at the bottom of the seat.

Damien Smith

Mileage: 4967

Back to the top

Unfamiliar A-roads in an unfamiliar A-Class held no terrors for its latest custodian - 1st May 2019

Perfect timing. A stretch that included a decent cross-country drive and a long, sun-drenched Easter weekend coincided with a welcome stint in the editor’s Mercedes A250 AMG Line, and a golden chance to sample a hatch of suitably warm character.

Last time I admitted to some negligence in the cleanliness of my previous Audi A6 Avant, but it turns out I’m not the only one. Still, a couple of hours cleaning off Mr Tisshaw’s grime [road testing assessment by-product, actually… – ed] was well spent, especially with a couple of juniors on hand to ‘help’. Washing a car is always a great way to get to know it, and a couple of thoughts struck as I worked up a frothy lather.

If there’s a better set of twin five-spoke wheels out there, I haven’t seen them. Finished in AMG titanium grey, they offer a smart visual cue to the potency of the 2.0-litre turbo petrol that lies beneath a car of subtle contours (and they’re easy to clean, too). There’s nothing brash or vulgar about this high-spec hatch and, while you couldn’t really describe it as a head-turner, the lack of extravagance only makes it more appealing – much like its rival Volkswagen Golf GTI, in fact. These cars prove you don’t always have to shout to be heard.

A-Class class continues inside, with the dark interior finished in Artico man-made leather and Dynamic microfibre upholstery. The sporty seats are firm but posture-positive over distance. The controls, via impressive twin-10.25in wide-vision screens, are clear and natural to use – although a good 10 minutes were required for familiarity on my first acquaintance.

The cross-country trip was a well-trodden mid-week excursion to the Williams Formula 1 team for a forthcoming story. But rather than setting off on my usual motorway autopilot, I used this excursion to test the sat-nav via an alternative route on (to me) unfamiliar A-roads.

Good decision. In light mid-morning traffic, the A250 proved an engaging companion, picking up pertly from junctions and roundabouts and cruising with ease along the straight bits. There’s nothing better than getting out on the road when you’re usually sat behind a desk.

In the odd queue at traffic lights, I quickly learned the advantage of the gear selector on the right of the steering column. Pressing in for Park when stationary saved both idling emissions and the effort of placing my right foot on the brake, then flicking down for Drive immediately roused the stop-start function into a smooth and easy motion. Great ergonomics, exactly as you’d expect.

At Newbury, the nav pointed the Merc’s elegant nose towards Wantage via the B4494. Again, good decision. What a great road this is, and a brilliant no-contest alternative to the grim, truck-infested A34. On my return to the office, I raved to colleagues about my ‘discovery’ – only to be told it’s a regular and much-loved Autocar road tester haunt… My hopes of a scoop were scuppered. Ah well.

The undulating, well-sighted and remarkably quiet stretch offered a perfect moment to switch from Eco and Comfort mode to Sport, and as you’d hope from such a car, the difference was palpable. The rising revs offered a pleasing soundtrack to the taut handling and quick steering, and a grin had spread by the time Wantage was all too soon upon us. Proof once again that on the right road in the right car, you don’t have to break the speed limit to enjoy driving – and it tasted like more.

That feeling was shared by the family over Easter, with reports from the rear of ample leg room and a comfortable ride as we used the A-Class for a few short trips. By the end of the long weekend, it was clear no one wanted me to give this car back – and I haven’t as yet. So in your own time, Mr Editor. Happy to babysit for as long as you need.

Damien Smith

Love it:

Looking good Handsome from every angle, but that ‘diamond’ radiator with chrome pins is what really elevates Mercedes beyond its rivals.

Loathe it:

Speed limit assist Flashing speed limit signs on the dash do remind you to curb your enthusiasm, but mostly they are distracting.


Mileage: 4650

Back to the top

 

Life with a Mercedes A-Class: Month 6

Desperate cross-channel booze run reveals hidden talents - 24th April 2019

While it may look suspiciously like I booked a French and Belgian road trip in the originally scheduled week of Brexit to take advantage of Calais’ reasonably priced liquid refreshment establishments just in case such an opportunity should not be a thing in the future, believe me when I say it was a coincidence. Well, not entirely coincidental, but when in Rome and all that…

Maybe Theresa May should visit Calais to get what everyone must agree is a good deal on at least something – and I can recommend to her the surprisingly Tardis-like Mercedes A-Class to transport the liquid spoils back to Blighty.

The trip properly tested the load-carrying ability of the A-Class for the first time. The parcel shelf is a doddle to remove and slide in behind the front seats, and the rear bench splits 60/40 with a single button-push to release both sides. It folds pretty flat, too – flat enough to create a large usable space – and the seatbacks are grippy enough to stop your cargo sliding around. With the seats up, the boot is 370 litres, and with it down, it’s 1210 litres, which is among the best on offer in the class.

There’s a lip to navigate, but otherwise there’s plenty of room back there – enough for the 10 boxes of wine I bought for a friend’s wedding this summer, about the same again for friends and family (okay, and our household…), plus our luggage for a two-night stay and some shopping from a nearby supermarket, and it all fitted in just a single layer across the whole floor with no impact at all on rear visibility. The wine alone filled two and a half shopping trolleys, but there would have been room in the Merc for the same again.

That extra weight did have some impact on the A-Class’s dynamics, as you’d expect. Curiously, it cured in part some of the low-speed jitters we’ve experience on all three variants sampled across this long-term test. The car felt more stable at motorway speeds, although some agility was sacrificed. Yet it remained the sort of car you could enjoy driving, and cumbersome it was not.

While initial step-off was blunted a touch, economy was hardly damaged, the final 150 miles of the trip barely less economical than the 350 miles before it. We averaged 41.4mpg over the weekend – an impressive result given the increased motorway speeds in France and Belgium over those in the UK, and that extra weight for a hefty chunk of it.

The trip threw up some other new discoveries about the A-Class. First, it’s really not a fan of crosswinds. The wind was howling across the wide open motorways of northern Belgium, and continual adjustments to the wheel were necessary to keep the car in a straight line. Perhaps I should have added some extra weight on the way out.

Second, in heavy stop-start traffic with the radio off, the engine makes quite a din at idle. That was discovered after turning the rather abrupt stop-start system off, so there’s some coarseness whether you want to keep the system active or not.

Third, and making any other gripe pale in comparison, was just how darn relaxing it was to cover such large distances at such speeds. The A-Class does its best impression of its bigger Mercedes brothers, not only with the execution of its cabin but also with its high-speed, long-distance comfort and refinement.

The hallmark of quality in a car on such journeys is whether you could simply turn around and do it all again at the end of it. This A-Class is one such car.

Love it:

Interior lighting Normally, coloured mood lighting feels a bit gimmicky; in the A-Class, it creates a cool ambience at night.

Loathe it:

Keyless go Car failed to recognise the key after a fuel stop. Took five minutes of getting in and out to sort it.


Mileage: 3652

Back to the top

A clever use of technology - 10th April 2019

As you approach a junction, a roundabout or a turn-off, the A250’s augmented-reality sat-nav screen switches to a live video display of the road ahead. Over the top of that are big arrows pointing where you need to go. Particularly handy if you’re driving somewhere unfamiliar. The £495 Augmented Navigation Package also recognises traffic lights and displays them on the screen.

Mileage: 3002

Back to the top

Life with a Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Month 5

Time for another swap: in comes a petrol A250 AMG Line with some choice options - 27th March 2019

Name a really epic third part of a trilogy, one that’s the defining part of its trio of movies. It’s harder than you think. Apparently Lord of the Rings is as good as it gets for a part three, but I’ll have to take the internet’s word for that and present Back to the Future III for the prosecution’s case.

So let’s consider this, the climax of our own three-part series on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, before AMG gets involved and takes over with the excellent A35. To recap, we started life with the entry-level A180d diesel model in mid-range Sport trim before switching to the A200 petrol model in the plusher AMG Line specification. And now we’re in the A250, again in AMG Line but with three key differences we’ll examine.

First, the A250’s turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine, which, in this state of tune, produces 221bhp and 258lb ft. The A200 has a 1.3-litre with 161bhp and 184lb ft, so that’s quite a jump in capacity. There’s also an A220 that splits this pair, which gets a 187bhp version of the 2.0-litre, for the sake of completion.

Second, we welcome the interior’s show-stopper for the first time: the twin 10.25in screens for the MBUX infotainment system. This dominates your eyeline in the cabin with its rich graphics, mixing infotainment in the centre of the dashboard with driving information on the right screen, which replaces an instrument binnacle.

We’ve gone from two smaller screens in the A180d, to one large and one small in the A200, but now we have the full ‘do you want to go large?’ option. Lovely it is, too, both visually and in its functionality. But worth the extra £2000-plus cost over the lesser systems? Let’s see.

Third, that £2000-plus cost (£2200 to be precise) isn’t just for the larger instrument screen but is the price of the Premium Plus package (£3595) over the Executive package (£1395). So you get plenty of bells to go with its whistle, including some fancy ambient interior lighting, a better sound system, adaptive LED headlights, memory heated seats and a panoramic sunroof, which arrives just in time for the spring. That’s some 15% of the car’s list price on one option alone, so assessing its value will be intriguing.

Saying hello to the A250 meant waving goodbye to the A200, which will probably be glad to see the back of me after I soured our last few days together. (I’ll just say the word ‘ford’ and leave it at that, and I don’t mean the one with a blue oval. Luckily there was no damage, other than to my pride.)

I was amazed at the A200’s easy-going economy, with 50mpg frequently popping up on the trip odometer on my 30-mile-each-way mixed-road commute, I enjoyed the extra agility and fleet of foot the lighter engine brought to the handling over the A180d and was pleased to report the body control improved somewhat with the adoption of a multi-link rear axle, even if the low-speed ride issues weren’t completely solved.

I will miss it, although there’s now a sense of excitement to try the kind of car you don’t see enough of these days: the cooking petrol. Most buyers switched to higher-powered diesels instead of the likes of the A250 in the past decade to get a good slug of the performance mixed with more favourable economy and taxation, but given diesels are apparently all evil these days (don’t get me started…), petrol power is making a comeback.

It’s early days, but I’m enjoying the greater muscularity of the 2.0-litre engine in the mid-high rev range, as well as a useful improvement in the-gap-in-the- traffic-exploiting 0-30mph performance that’s so useful in the real world. And none of this is at the expense of economy too much, with the car returning 40-42mpg on my commute.

The seven-speed automatic gearbox’s application in the A250 has been the most impressive yet. You’ll remember it has been one of the few black marks against the A-Class elsewhere. While still not completely cured of that low-speed hesitancy, you can trust the ’box to listen to your right foot in a more acceptable timeframe. Bodes well for helping see the car at its very best in its remaining time here.

Love it:

AMG-like looks This has plenty in common with the A35 AMG at first glance, which is a good thing for kudos.

Loathe it:

Active lane keeping assist Still grates. Now gets confused by old painted-over lines from roadworks and tugs the wheel.

Mileage: 1802

Back to the top

Stowage and storage thanks to sensible design - 13th March 2019

The quality and design of this A-Class is class leading and it hasn’t been done at the cost of usability. Front door bins are deep and cavernous. No handbrake or gearlever means the centre tunnel is also handed over for more storage. The glovebox is a decent size. Rear passengers get nets on the front seat backs and door bins of their own. Impressive.

Mileage: 3078

Back to the top

Life with a Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Month 4

Getting selective with the options list - 20th February 2019

Some option packs are better value than others. The A-Class’s £1395 Executive Package certainly works. It includes heated seats (essential in winter), the excellent 10.25in larger central infotainment screen, front and rear parking sensors, electrically folding mirrors (those last two are vital in our HQ’s tight multi-storey), and the ability to park itself, which I’ve yet to try.

Mileage: 2409

Back to the top

Finally settled on buying an A-Class? The tricky bit’s deciding which one - 13th February 2019

Now we’re onto our second Mercedes-Benz A-Class – this A200 AMG Line following the original A180d Sport – the different ways in which an A-Class can be specced to create cars with such different characters are really starting to manifest themselves. Each difference between the two A-Classes is big enough on its own, but combined they create a car that feels like something new again.

The most obvious distinction between this A200 and its A180d predecessor is, of course, the engine – and the fuel station pump at which you fill it. The A200 uses a turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol unit to the A180d’s 1.5-litre diesel. The 161bhp/184lb ft engine, co-developed with Renault-Nissan, feels of far greater displacement than its official 1332cc figure suggests, offering plenty of torque at low revs and surprising muscularity at higher revs. You can’t say that about too many downsized turbo petrol units, although it does share its zingy soundtrack when under loads with its small-engined cousins.

Impressive everyday economy was a strong suit of the A180d and surprisingly – given that downsized turbo petrols are typically among the worst performers in the real world – you can easily get upwards of 40mpg in the A200, and even push 50mpg if you drive parsimoniously. That’s within spitting distance of the official claimed figure of 53.3mpg. Bravo, Mercedes.

One piece of the driveline the two cars do share is their seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Its performance at step-off and low revs was the worst part of the A180d. The transmission is better in the A200, but not perfect. More work is needed to better integrate it with the engine, and ensure faster and more responsive getaways to get you through gaps in the traffic and roundabouts.

The chassis is the other big mechanical change. As discussed previously, the A180d uses a torsion beam set-up for the rear suspension, while the A200 AMG Line gains a multi-link rear axle (non-AMG Line A200s get the torsion beam). Jumping into the A200 for the first time, it felt much more alive in the way it went down the road and engaged the driver. I was surprised at just how much more agile it felt, but put this down to the lighter petrol engine over the front axle helping the handling feel more nimble more than the rear suspension offering greater body control.

Comparing the ride between the two cars is a more subjective thing, as it’s not as simple as torsion beam versus multi-link. The A200 comes with the larger 18in AMG alloy wheels, as opposed to the 17in rims of the A180d, and associated lower-profile tyres (225/45 in the A200 plays 205/55 in the A180d). The A200 does feel a touch firmer than the A180d, but the ride is more sophisticated, less ploddy and with better body control. We’re going to keep experimenting with different wheel and suspension set-ups to see if a sweet spot can be found, but it’s advantage A200 AMG Line in the chassis stakes so far.

The interior is also a step up in class and sophistication from the already impressive A180d Sport. You’d expect that in a pricier, range-topping trim, but the AMG Line does deliver. The sports seats grip you well and are pleasing to the look and touch, while the optional £1395 Executive Package provides a further boost in perceived quality. Among its additions is a larger 10.25in screen for the central display, the highlight of which is the crispness and clarity of the graphics. A map has never looked so good.

I’d grown rather fond of the A180d. As an entry-level ‘real-world’ model (ie the best value you can get for both spec and running costs), it felt like the kind of car to do 20,000 fuss-free motorway miles in each year. The A200 shows just how differently the A-Class can be flavoured, with no less pleasing results.

Love it:

Sleek styling This A-Class isn’t pretty from every angle, but it’s never looked better than in black with AMG Line trim.

Loathe it:

Transmission response Step-off is better in the A200 than the A180d, but still not as smooth as it should be.

Mileage: 1844

Back to the top

Time for a change - 30th January 2019

The A180d we started this test with has been replaced by the A200 you see here. The A200’s 161bhp 1.3-litre turbo petrol, on first impressions, revs nicely and helps improve the overall drivability compared with the A180d’s 1.5-litre diesel. AMG Line brings a leap in toys and perceived quality over the A180d’s Sport and the more sophisticated suspension subtly improves agility.

Mileage: 1455

Back to the top

Life with a Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Month 3

Pass me another A-Class, we’re done with this one - 9th January 2019

By the time you read this, A-Class number one of three in this series of back-to-back tests will have returned to its maker. This A180d is to be replaced by a petrol-powered A200, meaning the diesel leg of this trilogy is over and the first set of conclusions can be drawn.

What’s worth noting straight from the off is just how relevant a diesel engine of any type remains if you do big miles. When you’re doing just shy of 2000 miles a month, as we were averaging in our short stint in the car, diesel makes the best sense of all.

Our average economy figure has slipped from the 60mpg around which it had hovered in the early days. The weather has cooled and the number of shorter journeys has increased, but we’re still mightily impressed by a 55mpg average. That will make for interesting comparison number one as we switch from our 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel to a downsized 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol in the A200.

Just what will our wallets make of the switch? From previous experience, downsized petrols are some of the least impressive for real-world economy. We’ll have the calculator out over the next couple of months and let you know.

One thing I won’t miss about this A-Class is the transmission. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox’s step-off is the single worst thing about the car. There is simply no go when you ask for it with your right foot, no matter how gentle or hard you are on the pedal. It takes a good second for drive to appear, which is as unimpressive as it is baffling: just how did Mercedes sign off the car like this?

It’s a shame, because for the most part the transmission makes for an easy-going counterpart to the A180d once you’re on the move. It kicks down with minimal fuss when required and offers impressive drivability in the 30-50mph acceleration bursts that are a part of everyday driving.

The seven-speed dual clutch auto also appears in the A200, so it will be intriguing to see whether the issue is one related to the transmission itself or one caused by its integration with the diesel engine.

The next big difference between this A180d and the incoming A200 is the rear suspension. Both the A180d and A200 use the torsion beam rear suspension option – unless you spec your A200 in AMG Line trim, which our car will include to add an extra element to this story.

On the standard suspension set-up and with 17in alloys in this mid-range Sport trim, the A180d rides well but not with class-leading status. There is greater sophistication in the way a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus rides. The A180d’s body control comes unstuck over higher frequency surfaces and can set the cabin shaking. Intriguingly, there were a couple of big dissenters among the Autocar staff on the way the A180d rides on this standard set-up.

The final big change we’ll be noticing is with the MBUX infotainment system. Our A180d has the dual 7in screens, one centrally for the infotainment and another for the driver’s instruments.

Others who have experienced the larger 10.25in options in other A-Classes have smirked at how small it is, yet I’ve never had an issue with the graphics, legibility, size or functionality. I’m looking forward to seeing if bigger does mean better when we upgrade one of the two screens on the A200.

Love it:

SEAT COMFORT Not one fidget, tweak of the back or numbing of a bum cheek on even a 400-mile journey.

Loathe it:

ACTIVE LANE KEEP ASSIST If you don’t want it on, you have to turn it off every single time you restart the ignition.

Mileage: 4875

Back to the top

Mercedes feels ahead in tech terms - 27th December 2018

Having spent much of the past year in a Golf, I thought it’d take more than a month or two to familiarise myself with the A-Class. Wrong. Last week I jumped back into a Golf and was surprised by how dated the VW felt. The A-Class has greater material richness and its technology and slickness surpass the VW’s – a car that’s likely on the podium for its class alongside the Audi A3.

Mileage: 4222

Back to the top

Life with a Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Month 2

One of these cars was the third bestseller in October, the other fifth. Which is which? - 28 November 2018

When did mainstream cars become so expensive? Was it about the same time that the premium players came down to more mainstream segments such as the family hatchback class to try and steal the established players’ lunch?

After a month or so quickly piling on the miles in our recently acquired Mercedes-Benz A-Class and getting to know it rather well for the months of this test that lie ahead, I thought it best not to let the chance slip by and do similar with the Ford Focus.

After all, it’s the likes of Focus buyers who have fallen under the spell of that Mercedes badge and saved a few extra pennies.

The Focus and our A-Class share very similar mechanical specifications. Both use small-capacity four-cylinder diesel engines (1.5 for the Focus, 1.3 for the A-Class) closely matched on power, torque and 0-62mph time (118bhp, 192lb ft and 10.2sec in the Ford plays 114bhp, 221lb ft and 10.5sec in the Merc).

Both use automatic gearboxes (an eight-speed torque convertor for the Ford, seven-speed dual-clutch auto for the Merc). They also both have MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension.

And the cost? There’s less than £1000 in it, in the sporty ST-Line X trim in the Focus, and the sporty, erm, Sport trim of the A-Class. By the time you fiddle with the various standard kits and options, you end up with quite literally just a few extra pennies for the Mercedes. Translate that to a PCP deal and a monthly payment, and diddly-squat becomes the numerical value.

The point? For however brilliant the Focus is to drive, and it is that, the quality of Mercedes and its overall package are of huge appeal, and the best example of how the premium players are squeezing the middle-market mainstream brands with cars such as the A-Class. Ask the average car buyer whether they’d have a Ford or a Mercedes for the same money, and we can all guess the answer.

It’s working for Mercedes, too. The A-Class is perhaps the most commonly spotted new car I’ve seen on the roads this autumn, after the ubiquitous Ford Fiesta. Hardly surprising, when it was the third bestselling new car in the UK in September. Third bestselling? Crikey.

Like me, all those owners will be discovering more about what an interesting car it is to live with. The Mercedes’ interior and technology are in a different league from anything else the segment has seen.

The MBUX infotainment system may be ‘only’ the entry-level one with the two 7.0in screens rather than the full S-Class-style widescreen treatment across the whole dashboard, but it’s wanting for nothing in functionality.

I’m experimenting more with the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice activation system, which is definitely one of the better ones I’ve encountered. The trick is to speak to it normally, and not like a robot. ‘Hey Mercedes, can you call Andrew Frankel, please?’ will have you on the phone to the road test guru faster than ‘Hey Mercedes. Call. ANDREW FRANKEL’. ‘I’m sorry, could you repeat that?’

I’m continuing to be bowled over by the effortless efficiency of the A180d. The economy has settled around 60mpg now the weather has got colder, a quite extraordinary figure and in another league again to the 45mpg or so average I got from a similar drivetrain in the Focus. That’s another part of the financial argument in the Merc’s favour.

Yet there’s a negative point on the transmission, specifically at step-off. It’s just so darn slow to react. Take this example. There’s a T-junction on my commute on the edge of town. You have to pull across the traffic to join a lane that has just come around a blind corner. Gaps in the traffic can be only a second or two, so once you add in your reaction time and the time for the transmission to engage and then to pull away, the gap could well have gone.

Manual gearboxes are coming soon to the A-Class and I suspect its overall quality will only increase more when that day comes.

Love it:

Quality feel Classiness and quality run through the A-Class. Solid door thuds are as pleasing as the crispness of the interior screen graphics.

Loathe it:

Ride quality ‘Loathe’ is strong, but the ride is proving divisive. It’s too firm for some, lacking sophistication for others. I’d call it okay.

Mileage: 3462

Back to the top

Life with a Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Month 1

Odometer makes for positive reading - 14th November 2018

In less than a month since it joined us, the A-Class has racked up a vast number of miles – a sign of how well it fits into daily life. Yet much debate has started in the office among those who’ve driven it: ride quality (mixed), fuel economy (highly regarded), suitability of the transmission (not popular), interior quality (a high point), and size (Golf-like ‘just right’). Much to explore further…

Mileage: 3222

Back to the top

Welcoming the A-Class to the fleet - 31st October 2018

It’s testament to the impact Mercedes-Benz has made with the A-Class in the UK that the arrival of this all-new fourth-generation model has been considered one of the most keenly anticipated launches of the year.

We say fourth generation, but you could argue it’s only really the second given the A-Class’s radical transformation in its previous generation from futuristic, spacious, ahead-of-its-time MPV-supermini mash-up to, dimensions-wise, a meat and two veg family hatchback pitched right at the heart of the European family hatchback market.

The last A-Class was a staple of the UK’s top 10 bestselling cars list each month, buyers attracted to it in their droves by the attractive £199 per month PCP deals that were regularly being advertised as the most affordable way into Mercedes ownership. It worked: the A-Class was a key reason behind Mercedes’ march to the top of the premium brand sales charts in the UK and the fourth-top-selling brand overall.

While we’re here, that’s quite a remarkable statistic. Mercedes sold more cars in the UK last year than Renault, Peugeot and Toyota to name just three, and the A-Class is one of the biggest players in the family segment in the way the Mégane, 308 and Corolla were a decade or two ago. Premium really is the new mainstream.

There are three different engines initially available from dealers who are tasked with continuing that success. Yet there are so many subplots within the range that this will be a long-term test with a twist.

For starters, KT18 RZA you see here is a car we’ll be saying goodbye to much earlier than we normally would, for by the time the year is out another shiny new A will be along replace it.

Why so? To try to get as broad an experience as possible in the new A-Class. Early drives have suggested it is a car that can be specced in different ways to alter its character so dramatically; we really need to try more than one car in one solitary spec to make our recommendations.

Up first, then, is an A180d Sport. This car’s 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit with 114bhp and 192lb ft is the only diesel option until the more potent 2.0-litre A200d and A220d arrive very soon. Drive is sent to the front wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the only transmission available. Don’t worry: manuals are available in some petrol variants.

The petrols for now are a 161bhp 1.3-litre turbo in the A200 and a 221bhp 2.0-litre turbo in the A250, while a 187bhp 2.0-litre in the A220 with optional four-wheel drive is due to split them. There’s also a 134bhp 1.3-litre in the entry-level A180. A headline-grabbing, Volkswagen Golf R-rivalling A35 AMG has also recently been announced, ahead of a launch next year – our current plan being to crown this test with a longer stint in that car with what might be the A-Class’s greatest hits album.

But there’s much to discover before we draw any conclusions like that. Such as finding out more about one of the key stories in this A-Class: the suspension of its rear wheels. The A250 is the only A-Class available now with the multi-link rear suspension, the A180d and A200 getting an eyebrow-raising torsion beam. Unless you spec your A200 with the 18in alloys in AMG Line trim, which is due to follow our initial torsion-beam-equipped A180d to get that comparison.

Trim wise, our car is a Sport, which sits in the middle of the A-Class range. For the £27,340 asked by Mercedes, you get a level of kit that hasn’t left us wanting for much in these early days. The wheels are the standard Sport 17in rims, and the only option is metallic paint. That leaves the standard kit list to include dual-zone air-con, some excellent LED headlights and the new MBUX infotainment system controlled through either the standard 7.0in touchscreen, the trackpad on the centre tunnel or the steering wheel controls.

All those controls seemed a bit bewildering when I first sat in the car, perhaps due to such recent personal familiarity with BMW/Mini and Volkswagen Group systems, yet already I’m finding it intuitive to use.

The vibrancy of the graphics is a highlight, as is my experience of the Hey Mercedes voice control. Utter those two words and you get Siri-style search function of the car’s controls, as well as some online search too. I’ve heard from colleagues that the system was quite buggy on its initial international press launch, yet it got up the number of a taxi firm in Norwich I needed (is that you, Mr Partridge?) the first time I used it.

One other first impression: the A180d has an engine of effortless efficiency. Economy is closer to 70mpg than 60mpg (claimed: 68.9mpg). That’s quite remarkable with only 1000 or so miles on the odometer. The car covered another 1000 miles or so in its first couple of weeks with us, and that kind of economy over those kinds of motorway distances is the latest case for the defence of diesel. In cars like this used in this manner, the black pump makes absolute sense.

And did I mention that interior? Well, it’s not just lovely to look at, it’s also lovely to sit in and navigate your way around its controls. That’s just the entry-level system: we’ll be testing the optional 10.25in screens for the full widescreen cinema experience over the course of these updates for another element to this developing story.

Are you sitting comfortably? We have a busy and exciting few months ahead getting to know this most important of new cars, and so we’d better begin.

Second Opinion

Two things stand out. First, its all-round excellence: the steering and low-speed ride make rivals seem coarse, and promise a fantastic next-gen Golf if VW is to keep up. Second, how much more conventional it is from the first, nutty, shorter-than-Fiesta edition. Seems VW was right all along.

Steve Cropley

Back to the top

Mercedes-Benz A250 AMG specification

Prices: List price new £30,465 List price now £31,360 Price as tested £35,170 Dealer value now £30,470 Private value now £24,246 Trade value now £27,277 (part exchange)

Options:Premium Plus package £3595, Augmented Navigation package £495, Advanced Connectivity package £495, Light longitudinal-grain aluminium trim £120

Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 37.7-41.1mpg Fuel tank 43 litres Test average 40.2mpg Test best 42.2mpg Test worst 34.1mpg Real-world range 383 miles

Tech highlights: 0-62mph 6.2sec Top speed 155mph Engine 4 cels in-line, 1991cc, turbocharged petrol Max power 221bhp at 5500rpm Max torque 258lb ft at 1800rpm Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch automatic Boot capacity 370 litres Wheels 7.5Jx18in, alloy Tyres 225/45 R18 Kerb weight 1455kg

Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £268 CO2 No WLTP data Service costs none Other costs none Fuel costs £693.90 Running costs inc fuel £693.90 Cost per mile 13 pence Depreciation £3188 Cost per mile inc dep’n 75 pence Faults none

Join the debate

Comments
19

25 November 2018

So the cheaper torsion beam suspension will be a bigger issue for rear seat comfort. I hope you test the car with passengers aboard to test this fully.

25 November 2018

Mercedes are currently advertising these as available from £269 per month with a £4700 or so deposit, plus you will not own the car at the end of the term. What a collossal waste of money.

25 November 2018

I'll sort you one for £250PM 47M + 1x£1500, inc VAT, 10k per year, plus my fee of £240. How's that sound?  Or perhaps the Merc isn't for you.

26 November 2018

Interesting to see it without the massive screens. Is it just me, or is there no rev counter?

19 December 2018
Obviously know as much about your A class as the average driver of an A class does. It’s not a 1.3 diesel it’s a 1.5

19 December 2018

More of a reflection on how expensive the Focus is

19 December 2018

Autocar, what's with all the SPAM in the comments section? 

In the interests of your readers, please ban these accounts. 

19 December 2018
Happy to see this comparison. Last update on the A class, I was shocked when I saw 27.5k for a 1.5 diesel. Thats bordering on disgraceful! The Focus comparison is the one I'd liked and wondered what 27.5k got you, I thought a larger engine atleast for the Focus! Taking brand/badge value out, be interesting to hear about driving enjoyment, where the Focus usually earns comment?

19 December 2018
A lot of money for a little car that is under powered it can't the skin off the skin of a rice pudding.

19 December 2018

Is there nothing at all in the gaps between those two little screens? If so, it looks rubbish. It used to be the odd blanked off switch that kept reminding you that you'd bought one of the cheaper models, this is really in your face.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week