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Mercedes A-class facelift Test Drive Review

Date: 17 September 2015   |   Author: John Mahoney

Category: Small hatch
P11D price: £25,450
Key rival: BMW 1-series
On sale: September 2015
Equipment: 7 airbags, sports steering wheel, attention assist, reversing camera, 8in infotainment system, autonomous braking, 18in alloys, bodykit, uprated front brakes, adaptive, lowered sports suspension
Petrol: 122hp, 156hp 1.6; 218hp, 381hp 2.0
Diesel: 109hp 1.5; 136hp, 170hp 2.1
Trims: SE, Sport, AMG Line, AMG
Transmissions: 6-spd manual, 7-spd automatic

If you can cast aside images of tumbling Merc-badged hatches swerving to avoid an imaginary elk, the original A-class was an engineering masterpiece.

It managed the impossible, offering the interior space and crash protection of a big car all wrapped up in something barely bigger than a supermini.

Shame then, most ignored it and bought an Audi A3 or BMW 1-series instead, but that changed in 2012 when Mercedes ditched the MPV looks and made the third-gen A-class. Sure, it might have lacked all the first two generations' innovative features, but, sporting a sharp-suited look, sales doubled overnight, and three years on Mercedes is on track to sell half a million.

Interestingly, it's not just fickle style-conscious consumers who have embraced it - fleets did too, with half going to business.  

Now middle-aged, Mercedes has been very careful not to ruin the winning A-class formula. That explains the blink-and-you'll-miss-it facelift - look closely and there's actually a new front and rear bumpers plus fancy new rear tail lamps.

But the most beneficial additions are autonomous braking and a drowsiness detection system - both valuable if you drive long distances.

Best for business is the A180d that averages 80.7mpg while emitting just 89g/km of CO2 (an improvement of 4.3mpg and 9g/km). Most fleets, though, will opt for the 136hp 2.1-litre diesel A200d (Merc's dropped the 'CDI') that, with the efficient seven-speed dual-clutch auto, still averages 70.6mpg and emits just 99g/km of CO2.

The car we drove had the seven-speeder but also, unfortunately, Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive system that nudges emissions up to 127g/km of CO2.

The old A-class might have been agile in the bends but it always suffered from an unforgiving ride. Engineers have tried to address this by offering adaptive dampers under a new Dynamic Select pack (standard on Sport and AMG Line models).

This allows for a 'comfort' setting that does settle the ride a little, but the roads we drove were too smooth for us to tell definitively. Dynamic Select also introduces an 'Eco' setting that allows the auto A-class to 'coast', cutting fuel use.

Cost-wise, the hybrid Lexus wins (see 'Rivals'), but would struggle in the real world to come anywhere near its claimed fuel figure if it lived on the motorway, which means the Mercedes hatch makes more sense for most businesses. It might not match the space or cleverness of the original, but when it continues to look this good, who cares?

Mercedes-Benz A200dAMG Line

Model price range                                £21,065-£39,995
Residual value                                                     41.6%
Depreciation                                                      £14,875
Fuel                                                                       £4794
Service, maintenance and repair                          £2879
Vehicle Excise Duty                                                   £60
National Insurance                                                 £2213
Cost per mile                                                           52.7p
Fuel consumption                                               62.8mpg
CO2 (BIK band)                                          116/km (21%)
BIK 20/40% per month                                         £89/178
Warranty                                             3yrs/unlimited miles
Boot space                                                  341/1157 litres
Engine size/power                                        2143cc/136hp


Remains one of the most desirable premium hatches, and now with better costs
  • Still stylish
  • Feels well-made
  • Great cabin
  • Decent to drive
  • Ride
  • Rear passenger room as tight as ever
  • Noisy diesel