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 less per month than its premium-badged rivals, including the BMW 1 Series, although prices might vary from month to month depending on manufacturer or dealer incentives available. One thing that's certainly on the A Class's side are its strong resale values, which are helpful in keeping PCP and leasing rates competitive.
If you’re a company car driver, you’re right to be tempted by the hybrid A250e; its low CO2 emissions of 34g/km result in cheaper benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax than regular petrol or diesel engines. And as far as the latter is concerned, 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 a test MPG of 52.3, compared with 49.2mpg for a BMW 118d), but the petrols are much juicier.
Equipment, options and extras
Entry-level SE trim gets you the basics, including (relatively small) 16in alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control and keyless go.
But since budget motoring isn’t really what the A Class is about, we’d recommend stumping up a bit extra for mid-rung Sport trim. This gets you more attractive 17in wheels, dual-zone climate control, various styling enhancements and the more powerful LED headlights we mentioned earlier.
Range-topping AMG Line is also tempting, but pushes the price into the territory of larger cars, such as the BMW 3 Series. For that reason, we’d stick with Sport trim and add the Executive package, which gets you an enlarged infotainment screen, power-folding door mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, as well as heated front seats. If you’re feeling flush, the pricier Premium package adds all of that and more, including the larger digital instrument display that we've already mentioned, keyless entry, an upgraded stereo and cool-looking ambient lighting.
In the 2019 What Car? Reliability Survey, the A Class didn’t score at all well, finishing in 26th place out of 31 cars in the family car class. For comparison, petrol-powered versions of the Audi A3 placed ninth, with diesel-fuelled versions coming 10th.
As a brand Mercedes came a disappointing 24th out of 31 manufacturers. BMW and Audi only finished slightly higher, though, in 21st and 20th place respectively.
Safety and security
Euro NCAP gave the A Class a five-star (out of five) safety rating, with higher scores across the board than the A3 and 1 Series managed. That’s because it's really good at protecting you in the event of an accident, while even the most basic versions come with a host of safety features, such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, 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, traffic sign recognition (a system that uses a camera to recognises speed limit signs and display them on the dashboard) and blindspot monitoring are on the options list.
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