Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The majority of A-Class buyers won’t be paying cash; they’ll be signing up to a PCP finance deal. If you’re planning to do that, an A-Class will generally cost you more per month than its premium-badged rivals, including the BMW 1 Series, but prices do vary from month to month depending on manufacturer or dealer incentives. The A-Class has strong resale values relative to its non-premium rivals, but they’re not predicted to be as robust as the A3's and 1 Series' after three years.
If you’re a company car driver, you'd do well to look at the A250e; its low CO2 emissions, impressive all-electric range and plug-in hybrid tax breaks result in very reasonable benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax compared with regular petrol or diesel engines. It sits in the same company car tax bracket as the A3 TFSIe, Skoda Octavia iV and Volkswagen Golf GTE, but the Skoda’s cheaper purchase price means even lower monthly payments. Its battery can be charged from 0-100% in around two hours using a 7kW wall charger which is good, but not so good is the engine’s thirst when it’s out of battery. High 30s mpg is the best we saw during our testing.
If that's not for you and you're sticking with diesel power for better long-distance fuel economy, the A-Class diesels are RDE2 emissions compliant, which means there's no extra 4% diesel surcharge on your BIK payments. Anyone who pays for their own fuel will appreciate that both the A180d and A200d proved usefully economical in our tests (the A200d managed an average of 52.3mpg, compared with 49.2mpg for the BMW 118d). The A200 petrol isn't a gas-guzzler, either, with its test average of 40.9mpg – several MPG up on the 118i.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level SE trim gets you the basics, including (relatively small) 16in alloy wheels, single-zone air conditioning, heated front seats, cruise control and keyless go. Range-topping AMG Line is tempting, but pushes the price into the territory of larger cars, such as the BMW 3 Series. You’ll need to opt for that to get one of the A250 engines, though.
So we’d recommend the happy medium of mid-rung Sport trim. This gets you 17in wheels, dual-zone climate control, various styling enhancements (including carbonfibre-effect interior trim) and the more powerful LED headlights we mentioned earlier in our review.
On top of that, add the Executive Pack. This upgrades you with power-folding door mirrors and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, plus it gains you the bigger infotainment screen, wireless phone charging and smartphone mirroring that we detailed in the infotainment section.
In the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey, the A-Class didn’t score at all well, finishing well down the pecking order in the family car class.
As a brand, Mercedes also came a disappointing 26th out of 31 manufacturers. Audi finished only slightly higher, but BMW was much farther up the table.
Safety and security
Euro NCAP gave non-PHEV versions of the A-Class a five-star (out of five) safety rating, with higher scores in the areas of adult occupancy and pedestrian protection than the BMW 1 Series managed. Indeed, it's one of the safest family cars you can buy. Even the most basic versions come with a host of safety features, such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, seven airbags and a driver alertness monitoring system, as well as a pop-up bonnet to help cushion a pedestrian in the event of an impact.
Meanwhile, rear cross-traffic alert (this stops you if you're about to reverse out of your drive into the path of another car) and blindspot monitoring are all part of the optional Driver Assistance Pack.
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