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New Ford Focus vs used Mercedes A-Class: driving

No family car is nicer to drive than the latest Ford Focus, but is a used Mercedes-Benz A-Class for the same money a better all-round buy?...

2020 Ford Focus front action

New Ford Focus vs used Mercedes A-Class – driving

Performance, ride, handling, refinement

In A200 form, the A-Class can sprint from 0-60mph in 7.5sec – almost 2.5sec faster than the 1.0 125 mHEV Focus. And it has an even bigger advantage from 30-70mph, so makes joining motorways and getting past slow-moving traffic on A-roads less stressful.

That said, the Focus isn't a chore to make progress in most of the time, because it has a sweet-shifting six-speed manual gearbox and a willingness to rev. It even sounds suitably fruity when stretched, whereas the A-Class gets a bit rough beyond 5000rpm. Fortunately, you'll rarely need to push it that hard, thanks to its greater mid-range punch.

Mercedes A-Class front corner

Scour the classifieds, and you'll quickly realise that the vast majority of A-Class buyers go for the optional seven-speed automatic gearbox fitted to our test car. It isn't as smooth as the ones found in the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series, but does a better job than the jerky eight-speed auto that can be ordered in the Focus.

The A-Class also has much softer suspension than the Focus, plucking the barbs out of anything from minor ripples to major ruts. Just don't expect the A-Class to feel sporty, because there's a fair amount of body lean in bends and less of a sense of connection to the front wheels than there is in the Focus.

If that sounds damning, it really isn’t meant to. The A-Class is a perfectly easygoing car to drive quickly and can carry good speed through corners. It’s just not a riveting steer.

2020 Ford Focus rear action

The Focus, on the other hand, is a real entertainer, especially in ST-Line trim, which brings firmer suspension. Body movements are tightly controlled, and it feels eager to change direction, yet the ride is still perfectly comfortable. You do have to put up with more road noise than you do in the A-Class, but wind noise is well suppressed in both cars.

New Ford Focus vs used Mercedes A-Class – costs

Fuel economy, car tax, reliability

Our free New Car Buying service can reduce the purchase price of the Focus from £24,665 to £23,445. Plus, you shouldn't have to wait long for a factory-fresh example because the Focus isn't one of the manufacturer's models affected by the global computer chip shortage.

However, the A-Class is even more affordable, with our Valuation Tool putting a 2020 example with low mileage at £23,198. And if you keep both cars for three years, the four-year-old A-Class will be worth nearly £2000 more than the year younger Focus.

Mercedes A-Class rear

On the other hand, the A-Class will cost you more to service and it isn't as economical, with official average economy of 46.4mpg, compared with 55.4mpg for the Focus. Because both cost less than £40,000 when new, yearly VED tax will be the flat-rate fee of £155.

Ford offers a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty with the Focus, but you'll need to buy a year's worth of extended warranty with the A-Class to cover the same period of time. That might come in handy because the latest A-Class came quite a few places below the Focus in the 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey.

Find the best deal on a new Ford Focus >>