Mercedes-Benz A-class review – high-tech hatch takes aim at 1-series and A3

Antony Ingram
11 Jun 2018

Now in its fourth generation, the Mercedes A-class is unrecognisable from the car that kicked things off two decades ago.

Evo Rating: 
Class-leading tech. Luxurious interior
It’s no hot hatch. Rivals are more fun to drive

Performance and 0-60 time

With only three power units and one gearbox to choose from it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce the A-class performance hierarchy. At the top is the 2-litre A250 petrol, capable of sprinting to 62mph in a brisk 6.2 seconds and reaching an electronically-limited 155mph. Next up comes the A200 petrol, whose 1.3-litre engine still provides enough poke to hit 62mph in eight seconds flat and runs on to 139mph, while the A180d lags at 10.5sec to 62mph and 125mph.

Initial impressions are good, with all units feeling quiet and vibration-free at idle. All three engines also feel quite responsive to initial throttle inputs even in Comfort mode, but only the A250 continues to leap forward as you sink the pedal further. The A180d and A200 petrol provide extra noise but limited thrust. The diesel may actually be the preferable of the pair, as while it’s slower than the petrol, its low-down torque characteristics mean you don’t need to work it as hard in typical driving. Given the A200’s harshness and the A180d’s relative smoothness, we’d say the diesel is the pick of the smaller units.

The A250 is better than both, but still not exactly bustling with character. It’s smoother than its smaller petrol sibling and doesn’t need stoking as much to get you down the road, but it’s still a relatively joyless thing to rev and the DCT ‘box makes a meal of quick getaways, without the reward of a truly snappy change when you’re selecting manually with the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

You probably won’t feel compelled to switch to Sport mode very often either, which drops a couple of ratios and makes the initial throttle response overly sensitive - Comfort mode is best, using the paddles to change gear manually when required. Ultimately though the new A-class isn’t yet a car that goads you into a more lively driving style - it’s at its best simply cruising along quietly with everything set to auto.

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