Review: Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018)

Rating:

Completely re-worked A-Class with new petrol engines. Excellent infotainment and tech. Luxurious interior. Improved ride quality.

The looks aren't proving universally popular...

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Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018): At A Glance

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has always lagged behind rivals such as the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3. But this model, launched in 2018, combines an upmarket interior with sophisticated semi-autonomous technology and a drive that's potentially the best in class.

The cabin quality is enhanced with more soft touch materials while the design echoes the latest E-Class. The dashboard is dominated by twin HD displays that - depending on spec - will measure between seven and 10.25 inches apiece.

Like Audi’s virtual cockpit system, the driver gets a digital instrument binnacle that can be customised to show navigation directions, traffic reports and in-car settings.

The A-Class is more practical, too, with 370 litres of bootspace - more than both the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series when the rear seats are in place.

Ride quality and comfort is better than before, even on 19-inch wheels, thanks to the 30mm longer wheelbase and reworked multi-link rear suspension. Mercedes-Benz promises affordable fuel costs too, with the A180d 116PS diesel returning an official 68.8mpg and 108g/km of CO2.

Given the backlash against diesels, petrol power is far more prominent in the A-Class than before, despite most sales of the previous model going to the A180d. A new 1.3-litre engine features cylinder deactivation tech that saves fuel by switching from four to two-cylinders under light loads.

The entry-level 1.3-litre unit is the only engine to get a manual gearbox and produces 163PS with an advertised 55mpg. The 2.0-litre 224PS petrol - linked to a more substantial seven-speed dual clutch auto, can return 40mpg.

As well as all-new mechanical underpinnings, the A-Class boasts an array of semi-autonomous tech that allows it to effectively drive itself under human supervision. Operated by a system of radar and cameras, the A-Class is able to control its speed, change lanes and read traffic signs. It also performs a full automatic emergency stop if required and applies the brakes if it detects a rear-end impact.

Although the new A-Class might not look much different to its predecessor, it's a huge improvement in terms of the interior and how well it drives. Most buyers will go for the A180d and that's a fine choice, although the petrol engines are equally good. What's ultra-impressive is the technology on offer - although in true premium German car style, you'll have to be prepared to spend money on extras.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2018 Range Road Test 

What does a Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018) cost?

List Price from £23,710
Buy new from £18,791
Contract hire from £210.38 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4419–4436 mm
Width 1992 mm
Height 1405–1445 mm
Wheelbase 2729 mm

Full specifications

The interior is where this A-Class instantly impresses. Not only does it feel very solid and premium like the Audi A3's, it's also cool and contemporary. Everything you touch feels of high quality, while Mercedes-Benz hasn't shied away from being a bit different with the A-Class.

While it does feel simply like a baby Benz in some ways (in a good way), it also has its own clear, unique style.

It's the first Mercedes-Benz to get the clever MBUX multimedia system (S-Class buyers don't want it but A-Class buyers are 'digital natives' who do, one of its developers told us). Central to this is a touchscreen display in the centre of the dash, which morphs into a digital instrument cluster. Both of these are available as seven or 10.25-inch displays, depending on trim levels and how much you're willing to spend.

These provide easy access to a wide range of functions without complicated sub menus, and customisation is also as easy as tweaking a menu on your mobile phone. Want to create a shortcut or reorder menus? Simply press and drag.

Users can also create their own profiles, just like you might on a computer or games console. It learns what your favourite radio station is, what colour you'd like the ambient lighting (there are 64 different hues to choose from) and what position you'd like your seat (as long as electric seats are specced).

Over time it gets cleverer - prefer to listen to a different radio station on Fridays? It'll pick that up. Always call your mum on Wednesday afternoons? It'll flag up her phone number as a reminder.

There's a voice control system similar to Siri or Alexa - just say "hey Mercedes" followed by a request and it will follow your instructions. This works very well... even vague commands like "I'm cold" will turn the heating up.

One of our favourite features of the navigation system is the augmented reality display. It uses the car's front camera to display the road ahead, overlaying it with graphics to aid navigation. For example, on a roundabout, it shows arrows towards the correct exit.

Technology aside, there's also more space than before, with shoulder, elbow and headroom all increased over its predecessor. It's easy for adults to get comfortable in the front and rear, with the height of the front seats and angle/depth of the front seat cushions easily adjusted.

Specification (from June 2018):

SE features twin seven-inch displays including a central touchscreen with MBUX multimedia system with ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice activation; comfort suspension; 16-inch alloy wheels; DAB radio; Artico leather and Bertrix fabric upholstery; Active Lane Keeping Assist; Speed Limit Assist; Keyless-Go starting function; and air conditioning.

Sport trim adds LED high performance headlights; 17-inch alloy wheels; Artico and Fléron fabric upholstery; and automatic climate control.

AMG Line customers benefit from 18-inch AMG alloy wheels; AMG bodystyling; Artico and Dinamica microfibre upholstery; and three-spoke sports steering wheel.

Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018) like to drive?

At launch, buyers get a choice of one diesel and two petrol engines. The single diesel option is the A180d - a development of the old Renault-sourced engine, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel producing 116PS and 260Nm of torque.

The A200 is a new 1.3-litre petrol producing 163PS and 250Nm of torque, while the A250 is a 224PS 2.0-litre petrol with 350Nm of torque.

Along with the entry-level A180 (from autumn 2018) the A200 will cater for most petrol buyers. Don't dismiss it because of its small capacity - like many downsized, turbocharged engines, it's much quicker than you'd expect from a 1.3-litre. Around town and on rural roads it's a fun engine that makes all the right noises, only running out of grunt at higher speeds.

Higher-spec models (the A250 and A200 AMG Line) come with multi-link rear suspension, while other derivatives feature a torsion beam setup. Although the multi-link suspension is less troubled by extremely bumpy roads, both setups provide an excellent ride - even when paired with larger alloys.

The A-Class is easy to drive, thanks in part to its excellent visibility, along with the light and predictable steering. We'd like a bit more weight in the steering at higher speeds but Mercedes seems to have electronic power steering sussed more than most manufacturers.

Many A-Class buyers will spend a lot of time on the motorway and the A-Class is very happy sitting at 70mph plus. Wind and road noise is well contained, while there's very little vibration through the pedals or steering. It's all very pleasant and has the feel of a much bigger car.

Of course, if you want your car to stand out in a premium sector today, it needs lots of driver assistance tech. Don't forget that the A-Class is sold by the same brand that makes the S-Class, so there's no shortage of whizzardry that's dripped down from the flagship model.

Blind Spot Assist - which displays a light on the door mirror when there's a vehicle in your blind spot - is nothing new, but it now functions at a standstill when you're thinking about getting out of the vehicle. If it detects an approaching vehicle, the light will show, while a sound will play if you use the door handle at this time.

It's also got a host of semi-autonomous tech, suggesting only legislation prevents the A-Class being truely driverless in certain situations.

Spec the Driving Assistance package and it will automatically maintain the correct distance from a vehicle ahead and provide steering assistance, even through bends. It uses data from the GPS and traffic sign recognition to adjust its speed while, in traffic, it automatically moves off and follows traffic ahead, only requiring input from the driver if stopped for more than 30 seconds.

When driving on motorways and dual carriageways, should the driver wish to change lanes while using the driver assist tech, you simply need to indicate in the desired direction and the A-Class will check its surroundings and, if clear, move over.

Should the system detects the driver is no longer actively controlling the vehicle, it will give a visual and audible prompt to return his or her hands to the steering wheel. If the driver still fails to respond, the A-class will slow down until it reaches a standstill, applying the hazard lights to notify other vehicles. Once at a standstill, the parking brake is engaged automatically while the emergency services are alerted.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
A 180 50–51 mpg 9.2 s 127–129 g/km
A 180 Automatic 53–54 mpg 8.8 s 119–122 g/km
A 180 d - - 106–110 g/km
A 180 d Automatic 67–74 mpg 10.5 s 108–150 g/km
A 200 47 mpg 8.2 s 136 g/km
A 200 Automatic 53 mpg 8.0 s 123 g/km
A 200 d Automatic - - 110 g/km
A 220 Automatic 46 mpg 6.9 s 141 g/km
A 220 Automatic 4Matic 44 mpg 6.9 s 148 g/km
A 220 d Automatic - - 114 g/km
A 250 Automatic 46 mpg 6.2 s 141 g/km
A 250 Automatic 4Matic 44 mpg 6.2 s 148 g/km
A 35 AMG 4Matic 39 mpg 4.7 s 167 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

83%

Real MPG

27–68 mpg

MPGs submitted

65

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Will the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class automatic have the same problems as Volkswagen DSGs?

Does the automatic transmission on the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class have the same problems that you have frequently highlighted with DSG automatics?
There are two different ones. A lightweight dry clutch Renault DCT with the 1332cc engine. And a massive, heavyweight wet clutch version with the bigger engines. Very little trouble reported with the Renault DCT, but I'd be more inclined to trust the Mercedes-Benz wet clutch DCT.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What Cars Are Similar To The Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2018)?

Key attributes of the this model are: Petrol engine, High quality interior and Small family.

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What do owners think?

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