What's the used Mercedes A Class hatchback like?
To give a car like the Mercedes A-Class all the qualities of the three-pointed star and wrap that up in a smaller and more affordable package sounds like a recipe for success, but the first and second-generation A-Class' never seemed to capture the public’s imagination, and the third wasn't a critical success. This fourth-generation car is by some margin the best yet, and used examples with a few years of depreciation are the greatest value of them all.
There’s a good choice of engines, particularly for petrol fans since there's three to choose from: the 134bhp 1.3-litre A180, the punchier 161bhp A200, and a 221bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine in the A250. On top of that, there are also two Tarmac-ripping hot hatches in the form of the 302bhp A35 AMG and 421bhp A45 AMG. Meanwhile, diesel lovers can choose the extremely economical 114bhp A180d, torquey 148bhp A200d or potent 187bhp A220d.
Trim-wise, entry-level SE gets you most of the basics, including (relatively small) 16in alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control and keyless start. The next-level Sport gets you more attractive 17in wheels, more powerful LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and various styling enhancements. Range-topping AMG Line adds sportier touches and the availability of the more powerful engines., The Executive package can be found on Sport and AMG Line cars which gets you the larger 10.3in infotainment screen, front and rear parking sensors and heated front seats.
If you’re feeling flush, look out for the AMG Line Premium that adds all of that and more, including a 10.3in instrument cluster, keyless entry, an upgraded stereo and cool-looking ambient lighting, while the Premium Plus pack has matrix LED headlights, a panoramic glass roof and electrically adjustable front seats with lumbar support.
On the road, there’s just a hint, with the lower-powered petrol and diesel units under the bonnet, of gruffness. Certainly, the entry-level A180, but all the rest offer decent performance. What's more of a disappointment is that there is more road and wind noise than you’d want for a posh hatch. Both the seven and eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox can be slightly hesitant when pulling away from a standstill, and it can occasionally change down rather abruptly at higher speeds, too. For most of the time, it changes gear smoothly and quietly, but the equivalent DSG-equipped Audi A3 has a better automatic 'box.
The steering is quick and responsive, too, and well-weighted, and the car handles corners with aplomb, with good body control and reasonable levels of grip. It might not be outright fun, but it is stable and secure.
There’s plenty of space up front, too, although lanky passengers might find it a bit tighter in the rear, especially if sat behind a taller driver. The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split, and the boot is big enough for a large weekly shop or a holiday away for two. Fold the rear seats and the floor is nice and flat, although there is quite a high lip at the entrance to the boot that you’ll have to haul things over. Be warned though: The additional batteries in the A250e encroach into the cargo area and reduce it in capacity to that of a small car from the class below.
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