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 less 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 1 Series' or A3's after three years.
If you’re a company car driver, you'd do well to look at the A250e; its low CO2 emissions and plug-in hybrid tax breaks result in very reasonable benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax compared with regular petrol or diesel engines. Its battery can be charged from 10% to 100% in an hour and a quarter using a 7kW wall charger.
If that's not for you and you're sticking with diesel power for good 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 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, 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.
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 carbon-fibre 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 to power-folding door mirrors, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, but, most usefully, gains you the bigger infotainment screen, wireless phone charging and smartphone mirroring that's been detailed in the infotainment section.
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 (the previous generation) 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, while Volkswagen came in at 16th.
Safety and security
Euro NCAP gave 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. 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, 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 blind spot monitoring are all part of the optional Driver Assistance pack.
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