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Mercedes-Benz A-class: Test Drive Review

Date: 13 July 2012   |   Author:

Category: Lower medium
P11D price: £23,215
Key rival: BMW 1-series

Mercedes is taking its A-class into more mainstream territory with the new model, which is designed to meet the BMW 1-series and Audi A3 Sportback head-on.

It's a sleeker, younger design than the more upright predecessor, which attracted an older buyer profile and failed to match the sales success of its German premium brand rivals.

While the front-end styling is still very clearly a Mercedes, the rear is strikingly evolved and significantly more sporty, although if it was debadged it could possibly be mistaken for a Citroen DS model. It also shares some visual features with the 1-series it's now competing so closely with.

There will be three diesel engines once the 170hp A220 CDI, which already meets Euro6 emissions standards, joins the range a couple of months behind the 109hp A180 and 136hp A200 diesels. At 99g/km the A180 is Mercedes' first sub-100g/km car, but wasn't available on the launch event so we tried the A200, which emits 118g/km of CO2 in manual form, or for an extra £1450 across the range, you can have a slightly more efficient and smooth-changing seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The A-class is certainly a more entertaining drive than its frankly dull predecessor, with enjoyable steering and an impressive chassis, and in manual form the 136hp engine feels significantly more potent and refined, although not particularly rapid, than its auto equivalent.

As with the likes of the 1-series the ride quality is hard, with every bump noticeable in the cabin, while packaging, also like the BMW, is compromised. Rear passenger entry involves a more pronounced duck under that more swooping roof and window line than might be expected, and the same feature also reduces the size of the rear window so taller passengers will be staring at roof lining as much as scenery. Rear legroom isn't a problem, although the boot is also significantly smaller than the Audi or BMW at 341 litres. An A3 Sportback is 370 litres and the 1-series boasts 360 litres. In the A-class's favour is the fact that people looking for more space and comfort are likely to choose its recently launched B-class sibling instead.

But the cabin is nicely designed and put together, probably more appealing than the BMW but not quite at the level of the new A3, and there are plenty of stowage areas for dropping in phones, drinks or other bits and bobs.

The pricing is interesting, with this version of the A-class coming with an identical P11D price to the BMW 118d Sport, although the A3 Sportback, which admittedly will be replaced early next year, is over £1800 cheaper.

The residual value isn't quite as good as the model's three rivals but, in terms of costs, a spread of just 1.3p per mile covers the Audi, BMW and Volvo's new V40.

The new A-class suffers from some packaging issues, although not significantly more than its BMW rival, but it impresses in many other ways thanks to it being a visually attractive, well-built, nice to drive, efficient, direct rival for the A3, 1-series and V40.

Mercedes-Benz A200 CDI Sport
P11D price£23,270
Model price range£18,945-£29,775
CO2 (tax) 118g/km (13%)
Service intervalvariable miles
Warranty3yrs/unlimited mls
Boot space min/max341/1157 litres
Engine size/power1796cc/136hp
Top speed/0-62mph130mph/9.3secs
On sale November 2012
VerdictMuch more appealing and competitive but slight packaging issues


Much more appealing and competitive but slight packaging issues