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

Antony Ingram
11 Jun 2018
Verdict:

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

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

The old A-class always rode poorly, so it’s disappointing to find the latest model is little better. The multi-link cars are more adept at dealing with broken and rough road surfaces than the torsion beam models lower down the range which clonk and shudder more readily, but on the AMG Line’s 18-inch wheels and 40-profile tyres, both setups feel unsettled on all but the smoothest surfaces, rumbling noisily over patchy tarmac and thudding over harsher bumps.

This firmness does translate to good body control and roll is kept to a minimum, backed up by strong levels of lateral grip. The steering is reasonable too, with a responsive and well-weighted feel once past a slightly dead zone around the straight-ahead, and once you’re up to a decent speed and sending greater loads through the front axle. There’s a typical Mercedes slickness to the steering too, even if the suspension’s struggle to contain bumps sometimes sends vibrations through the rim.

With little feedback though the A-class lacks involvement, so there’s not much fun to be had slotting the A-class down a twisting section of road, even though it’s capable of doing so with speed and composure.

We’d be eager to try an A-class on slightly smaller wheels to see whether that evens out the ride and handling balance and the eventual AMG model should be sharper, but until then the new baby Merc doesn’t quite impress on the road as much as it does in the showroom. We’d certainly welcome an option for adaptive dampers.

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