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Mercedes A-class: Test Drive Review

Date: 11 December 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £21,520
Key rival: Audi A3

Mercedes has made no secret about its big aspirations for the A-class in the fleet sector, and the German firm has moved the game along in a big way with the new model.

The petrol A180 Blue Efficiency model tested here adds another dimension to the A180, A200 and A220 CDI diesel variants, which will be the default choice for most business users - and there's a good reason for that. Beyond the obvious mpg benefits, the Merc's 1.6-litre petrol engine and seven-speed auto gearbox don't sit well together. It's actually quite a peppy unit with 122hp, but it's constrained by the transmission, which insists on keeping engine speeds low for economy purposes. It is possible to override this by selecting Sport mode on the console-mounted button, but the changes are still fussy and cement the idea that automatics rarely suit small cars and small engines.

It impresses in other respects, though. Apart from its fetching exterior, the Merc's highlight is its cabin, which is sturdy and easy on the eye. The downsides are the tablet-style colour display, which appears a little out of place, and slightly cramped rear space.

As with two other premium lower medium contenders, the A-class is a way off BMW's 1-series when it comes to handling, but it's close to Audi's A3 and on a par with Volvo's V40. The ride could be more comfortable, but body control is good and it remains flat and planted through bends.

This version will more than likely fall off the radar for fleet users, as a petrol auto isn't likely to figure highly on choice lists or in drivers' minds. The

A-class shouldn't be ruled out, though. It's the most visually striking premium lower medium model of the current crop and has a great cabin, strong RVs and plenty of badge appeal. Space in the rear and the boot - or rather a lack of it - count against it, but it's up there with the best of its immediate rivals.

Mercedes A180 Blue Efficiency SE auto
P11D price£21,520
Model price range£18,945-£28,775 (RRP)
CO2 (tax) 127g/km (16%)
Residual value39.6%
National Insurance1515
Cost per mile49.6p
Fuel consumption52.3mpg
BIK 20/40% per month£57/£115
Service interval15,000 miles
Warranty3yrs unlimited mls
Boot space341/1157 litres
Engine size/power1595cc 122hp
Top speed/0-62mph126mph/9.1secs
On sale November 2012
VerdictStrong in many areas
but the petrol auto is
unlikely to appeal to fleets


Strong in many areas but the petrol auto is unlikely to appeal to fleets