Mercedes-Benz A-Class (2012 - 2018)

reviewed by Carl Kelly on 9 February 2021
reviewed by David Prytherch on 6 April 2020
reviewed by Anonymous on 8 October 2017
reviewed by Alison Wade on 23 May 2017
reviewed by Dawesreview on 1 March 2016

A180 cdi auto amg sport

reviewed by biggearrob on 17 February 2015
Overall rating
How it drives
Fuel economy
Tax/Insurance/Warranty costs
Cost of maintenance and repairs
Experience at the dealership
How practical it is
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Initially Terrible, thought it the worst car I have ever had. Got better, then bad again. NOT RECOMMENDED

I had to take a quick decision on this as a company car after Hyundai cancelled my order for an automatic Veloster , deciding not to make any more automatics for the UK. Not the dealers fault (All Electric Garages of Birmingham), I have had many cars from them in the past of all brands, both new and second hand, and their service has always been brilliant. I highly recommend them to anyone.

Initially, purely for taxation reasons, I previously had a Toyota Prius T Spirit company car for 3 years of blissfully smooth, quiet and economical (60 mpg summer and 50 mpg winter) motoring.

I decided on the A class purely on looks and paper spec, without a test drive - what a mistake that was - if you are thinking of having one of these, please drive it first, it will probably put you off and then you can buy something else that you will be happy with.

Firstly, comfort. Seats look great, but you will forever be messing about with the position to try to get them comfortable - the alcantara material grips your clothes and you will never sit in exactly the same position twice.

Secondly, suspension. Gosh it is hard, even with the standard comfort fitment (god forbid what the uprated one is like).

Thirdly, engine. Quiet at speed, really noisy around town, and the stop start comes in with a thud and a rattle.

Fourthly, gearbox. Just never seems to be in the right gear, always bogging down unless you kick down to get it to shift. Also can catch you out if you start to go and then have to hesitate for any reason - the car can try to push forward for several feet, requiring a good shove on the brake to stop you hitting the car in front.

Fifthly, consumption. Nowhere near what they advertise, expect 50 (maybe 52) on a long run if you take it really gently. Around town reality is mid to high 30's unless you creep around, then you will get low 40's. (when I mean creep around, I mean slower than a Prius !)

Sixthly (if there is such a word), it is frustratingly slow off the mark unless you totally boot it. Perhaps the Prius spoilt me in this regard. Around town they are fab, the electrics give you instant torque and nipping out into gaps on islands is a breeze - the Mercedes is just so frustrating, in that by the time the car has sorted itself out, the gap has gone and you find yourself hitting the brakes again to avoid hitting the next car coming round the island.

Seventhly, Becker Nav. This is controlled by the stupid dial in the centre console, rather than the touch screen on the Prius (off the lexus). Total frustration and the TMC never works, even when sitting in a queue for half an hour on the M6.

Eight(thly). Dirt. What I hear you say ??. Well, have a look around and see if you ever see a clean one of these cars. You wont. There is something about the shape that attracts dirt like you would not believe, especially around the back end and the rear screen.

To sum it all up, would I have another one of these - never. Would I give it back given half the chance ? - yes you bet I would. I would even have my old Prius back for another couple of years than keep this, but as it is a company car on lease, sadly I can't. I could cry. Its a real shame I could not have the automatic Veloster that I wanted, as I have not heard a single negative report about them from anyone.

Anyway, finally, is there anything I like about the A Class, well yes there is:-
a) the heated seats are great.
b) the illuminated door kick plates look great.
c) the finance from Merc was so good that I had it on a two year lease, not the normal three, so I will have it a whole year less than ought to have been the case. (thank goodness)
d) the dealer was great ( Mercedes Walsall ) and the hand over from the sales exec was second to none.

By the way, I am not retired, with a flat cap, nor a tree hugger, but late 40's, young family, bit of a petrol head, and ride motorbikes. If this car should have kept anyone happy, it should have been me - apparently most are brought by men, aged 49. IF you see one smiling, look again, it is really a grimace !!

UPDATE - now had the car for 4 awful months.

Have had a small personal triumph in that I have managed to get the TMC function on the sat nav to work, although it took 2 hours in front of a pc with the unit from the car connected on a USB lead.

This is despite a technician at Mercedes Walsall (Gary) telling me that the TMC does not really work in the UK (it does), that the sales executive should have told me it would not work, and that I should have spent £2,000 on the COMMAND option. He also informed me that the £350 Becker Pilot system is not actually any better than a £100 Tom Tom - his words, not mine. He also told me that he had received numerous complaints from other customers about the TMC not working.

These people are supposed to know about these cars and Mercedes should make sure that their sat nav systems come installed with the correct software when you collect the car as new. It should not be up to the customer to do it !!

MPG's are still terrible by the way - did 36 mpg on work commute today, Wolverhampton to West Bromwich (20 miles round trip). I also have had the engine management light come on this week, and then go out again after two restarts and a pull over at the side of the road (going in to the dealers tomorrow for investigation).

By the way, the service lady (Michelle) told me that I should not rely on the THREE mpg readouts that Mercedes have chosen to fit to the car, but that I should run the car until dry, then put a gallon of diesel in, then run it dry again to actually see what mpg the car is doing - but there again, she tells me she drives a FIESTA !! What she was really saying of course is that the dash read out on a £28K Mercedes is inaccurate. I wonder if Mercedes in Germany are aware of this fact ?!?!

Also, I sent 2 emails to the dealers to ask them to ring me to discuss the NAV, but I had to ring them in the end as the service guy ignored them.

My opinion of the dealer is fast diminishing - the sales exec, Jacque was very good and I hold her in high regard and she knew her stuff, however, the fact that the technicians failed to make sure the TMC worked properly, or even knew that it would work, and the nonsense about the mpg readouts, means that I am diminishing my rating of the dealer now to poor.

By the way, just to really ram home to any prospective purchaser of one of these cars, how bad they are, let me tell you about a little trick I read about and tried today. The car is so sluggish and unresponsive to driver inputs that you can drive along at 30 mph and if you tap the accelerator up and down quickly - all the way to the bottom of the travel and back, just like a tap dancer - the car will not do anything - not even a flick of the rev counter, or any attempt to pick up speed. I have never experienced anything like it before and probably explains why you sometimes have to wait a second or so for the car to pull away, after pressing the accelerator.

Oh - one last thing about pulling away. I slowed down the other day in traffic to a virtual stop, and then went to pull away - nothing. Why? - well I think the fact that the gearbox was still in THIRD did not help . This was at less than 5 mph !!

Finally, believe it or not, I really want to like this car, but in truth I cannot even begin to tell you how bad it is. Let me tell you this - a basic spec 1.2 TSi Octavia that I hired in Cyrpus last year was a) more refined, b) more flexible and c) more fun to drive. And not by a little, but a lot !

Prospective purchasers, you have been warned !!!

2nd Update:
After spending many hours on A class forums, I saw several owners reporting that they had identified that Mercedes had software updates for engine and gearbox and after asking their dealers to install these, their cars had improved.

Well, guess what, I asked Mercedes Walsall if they knew about this, and they didn't. In any event I booked the car in for them to plug it in and check if I had the latest software installed.
The car was picked up first thing and when I told the Mercedes delivery driver that I was really unhappy with the car, he said to me that he personally thought the new A Class was an awful car, the suspension was far too hard, the gearbox awful and they drove dreadfully. Nice to know that Mercedes employees don't think much of them either !!

Anyway, they installed updates for both the engine and the gearbox and the car has come back a revelation. It drives 100% better, the gearbox now finds the right gear nearly all of the time, the engine is smoother and the car seems to roll better, and everything flows. And guess what - my mpg's have gone up between FIVE and EIGHT miles per gallon.

What can I say - it is now a pleasure to drive, even the suspension doesn't seem so hard (not sure if the dampers are computer controlled ??) What a shame it was not like this from the very start !.

Whilst it now seems to drive as it should, Mercedes have not changed any literature for the car reflecting any improvements, and therefore I have to draw the conclusion that there are flaws in these cars that Mercedes knew about (hence the updates), but they were still happy to sell them (or lease in my case).

To my mind, this really is NOT ON Mercedes and why oh why did you not drop me a line to ask me to have the updates done, when you knew I was so unhappy with the car (and my thoughts are justified by the very fact that it now drives so completely differently).

I have asked Mercedes if they will have it back, but whether they will remains to be seen. Having to put up with the cars issues for so many months and then having it sorted, purely through my own dogged research, has tarnished the car for me like you would not believe.

If you are thinking of having one of these, I hope you have found my experience of both the car, and Mercedes so far, to be useful. I will keep updating the review as time goes by.

Here is copy correspondence between me and Mercedes for you to make your own judgement on the brand and the dealers. Strangely, part the way through this correspondence, I began to realise that now the car is performing correctly and putting my past experiences aside, I was actually starting to really like my A Class and have started to become quite attached to it . The mpg's are now really good and the car runs lovely. What a shame the first 4 months was so dreadful. My recommendation now would be, yes, give one a try, but if you do then a) make sure the engine and gearbox updates have been done, and b) get Mercedes to update the nav so that it works properly (will save you 2 hours in front of the PC).

Here we go, I have deleted mention of my company and the name of the senior person at Drayton Mercedes to be fair to all concerned. You decide for yourself whether I am being unreasonable in my expectations, or whether they have acted correctly:

Sent: 19 March 2014 15:16
To: ''
Subject: xx63xxx

Further to my telephone conversation with Sarah, please find attached a copy of my e-mail to Mercedes Walsall.
I subsequently spoke to their Sales Manager, Greg, who directed me to Mercedes customer services as my request for the car return could not be dealt with by the dealership.
MB customer services then directed me to MB Finance.
MB Finance then directed me to MB CAC department. (yourselves)
You (Sarah), then directed me back to the dealership !!

I will say no more about this seeming never ending circle !!

Anyway, you have now agreed to direct this to both the dealership and an appropriate department at MB for the issue to be attended to.

In a nutshell, I would reiterate, that the vehicle was supplied in a defective condition and I was allowed to continue for 4 months with it in this state. Purely from my own efforts have I now got the defects resolved by virtue of the software updates to both engine and gearbox, and the car now drives as it ought to. The sat nav now also works as it should and this is purely through MY efforts, it was not something that the dealer could, or would, do.

The vehicle did not perform as advertised.

Mercedes service were appalling and did not resolve the issues, in fact their attitude possibly made the experience worse.

The whole story is chronicled on the motoring website detailed below and is available for general public view. PLEASE READ IT !

As the vehicle is on lease, I am minded to think that MB are in breach of contract in failing to supply (and perhaps quickly correct) a vehicle that worked as it should.

I am looking for proposals for the vehicle to be returned, the agreement cancelled and with no financial penalty to my company. I hate the experience I have had, and therefore the car itself, with a vengeance. At one point I even considered buying a second hand car to run, and leave the Mercedes in the road to “rot” until the end of the lease agreement, so unhappy was / am I with it.

I am massively disappointed in Mercedes as a brand, it advertises itself as being able to supply a prestige product, with prestige aftercare service. My experience has been anything but, with several Mercedes employees themselves also criticising the car !!

I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

I have copied in the sales exec, at Mercedes Walsall, so she can pass it on to the sales manager – I don’t have his direct e-mail sadly.

Thank you in anticipation of your assistance and hopefully your desire “to do the right thing”.


Firstly I would apologise for the length of time taken in my pursuit of answers.

Whilst recognising that this will potentially not be what you were hoping for, I am sure that after my conversation with you on Thursday, you may have expected what I am about to say.

I have discussed your case with Mercedes-Benz and copied them in on your correspondence to include your blog. Mercedes-Benz will not support your claim to return the vehicle without financial penalty and are satisfied that the car is performing correctly, they are sympathetic to the fact that the car has needed a software update so early but given that the update has improved the vehicle will not enter in to any discussion in regard to compensation or return.

For our part we are of course very sorry that you are so unhappy and that we have not met your expectations in terms of our service level, to this end I would re-emphasise the offer of a full tank of fuel as a gesture of goodwill as made to you verbally last week by xxxxxx, Sales Manager at Walsall.

We have clearly got some work to do in rebuilding your faith and hope that you give us the opportunity to do so as and when your vehicle is ready.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and please feel free to contact me directly should the need arise.


Thank you for your reply.

I am very disappointed in both Draytons and Mercedes joint stance and it is not what I would have expected from companies that prides themselves in their products and customer service. I would comment as follows:

A) the car does seem to be performing correctly now, but it failed to do so for over 4 months. What have Drayton or Mercedes to say about this ?

B) the sat nav issue has been remedied purely through my efforts. Mercedes supplied the vehicle without a correctly performing sat nav and if left to Mercedes this would have continued not to function correctly for the balance of the lease. Again, what have Drayton or Mercedes to say on this element ?
(as i said to technician Gary when he told me the tmc would not work, had i
known the tmc would not work that alone would have stopped me having the car)

C) the engine and gearbox software updates were instigated from my research alone. Again, Mercedes did nothing pro-active in this regard. Were you both happy the car was functioning as intended ?

D) a manufacturer such as Mercedes will be fully aware that vehicles should not "need" software updates, whether early or late in the vehicles life. Software does not wear out, nor is it a consumable. The software updates have been released by Mercedes to "fix" errors in the original programming. What is Draytons and Mercedes comment on this aspect ?

E) the original software to both the engine and gearbox was obviously defective and Mercedes I assume, can only have been happy to release defective vehicles whilst working on a "fix", and must have "hoped to get away with it".

None of the above is indicative of a company that has any integrity, nor thought for its customers satisfaction, nor its own good name.

I have not asked at any point for compensation xxxx, nor do I want any, nor a free tank of fuel to make amends for the awful fuel consumption that I have had to endure through no fault of my own. I simply look to Mercedes to act in a morally acceptable way and accept that the vehicle was not in a fit state to be supplied back in November 2013, and to put the matter right by taking their car back.

As they / you are not prepared to do this, my faith in both companies brands is in complete tatters.

I look forward to yours and Mercedes comments to the above.

I thank you once again for your reply, disappointing though it was.



May I begin by saying that I do understand your frustrations and also accept that we could have acted more informatively in at least one case.

The fact that the car is performing as it should and to your expectations is very pleasing and whilst it was clearly very frustrating during the early part of ownership we sincerely hope that you can put the experience behind you.

The software updates are not recalls and do not always apply to every vehicle, we would usually react to a specific complaint by means of a technical case or the update would take place routinely when the car visits a Mercedes-Benz workshop for a regular service, we are sorry that you appear to have got the information before us and for any inconvenience that this may have caused.

Becker Map Pilot is supplied in a standard format and with a lead for customers to both update and modify where possible. We appear to have failed to explain this properly and to add insult have then mislead you with the potential operation, for that we are extremely sorry.

We must accept that your faith is in tatters and hope that during the balance of your ownership and given the opportunity, we can go some way to restoring it.

I would conclude by stating that Mercedes-Benz have closed the complaint case in regard to your vehicle and have no further comment to make, in addition we feel that we have both apologised and offered a suitable gesture to make up for your disappointment, we are sorry if you do not agree.


Once again thank you for your reply.

Human nature is such that it can be very forgiving, but tends to reflect the readiness of the wrongdoer to accept their shortfalls and to be ready to correct or amend those shortfalls.

With the car, I decided over the weekend that it is actually now a nice car, everything now performs as it should and that regardless of the outcome of our dialogue, I would keep it and see the lease out. ( I would reiterate that previous to the updates it drove like a tractor and was at times dangerous.)

You were not to know this, and perhaps you may therefore feel frustrated to have continued to be involved in our correspondence this week, however, from my simple perspective, my faith and trust in Mercedes and Drayton would be whether you are both prepared to respond honestly and offer to correct your wrong.

The simple facts are that:

The vehicle did not perform correctly, although you were being paid lease rentals for a vehicle that should have performed correctly.

The technical expertise of your staff was dreadful and there was no desire to "own" the problems and sort them out.

The advice given by your service staff was poor and contrary to that of the sales executive and Mercedes own literature.

Mercedes own staff criticised the car as being poor.

Now, is the "right thing" to accept openly all those issues and offer to have the car back ?
is it to semi answer criticisms in a politically correct way, sympathise with the customer, refuse to have the car back as after 4 months the customer has now sorted the problems out for you and finally to offer about £60 worth of fuel, even though the cost to the customer through the excessive consumption can be calculated to be approximately twice that ?

I will leave it to your and Mercedes consciences, to decide which of the above applies and you can form your own judgements as to whether Drayton or Mercedes are likely to receive repeat orders from my quarter and where the vehicle is likely to be serviced in future.

I will leave it there xxxxx. Should you wish to reopen our dialogue at any time, please just give me a call.


I wasn't going to write another review, but after just over a year with the car I thought, why not. It went in for its annual service in november at wolverhampton and I raised the usual moans. Wolverhampton were much more professional than Walsall and reported several stored fault codes in the ECU. This was put down to defective electrical engine management connector blocks and some of the connectors were replaced. The car drove better afterwards, but not as good as I would have really hoped, and certainly not as good as the 180 cdi auto they lent me (albeit that has the 1.5 renault engine whereas mine has the 1.8 mercedes). Several weeks later the satnav stopped working. It refused to pick up satellites and kept telling me that I was in the middle of Frankfurt !!. Back to Wolverhampton and this was "fixed" by another update to the media system - Mercedes apparently being aware of the fault. At the same time, I had yet another moan about the mpg's and drive-ability and they told me that since I have been in, yet more updates had been released for the engine and gearbox, and would I like those installed. Three hours later and ..... wow. Suddenly, it drove really well and my mpg's improved by over 20% - YES 20% ! - even Mercedes could not believe it. Having spent £2,200 in fuel in the last year and averaging around 37 mpg I wrote to Mercedes Customer Services in Milton Keynes and asked them if they would like to refund me the difference between what I had spent in fuel, and what I would have spent if the car had performed like this from day 1 (and as advertised). Let me tell you now, that Mercedes customer services are a waste of time - they refuse to accept any fault with any of their cars, they do not release any information as to why software updates are done and nor will they formally confirm any warranty work done on the vehicle. I even got involved in another argument between them, and Walsall, as they told me that Walsall had done MPG tests, whereas of course they had never done any such thing on my car. A right shambles.

Having given up the will to live again, having yet again asked Mercedes if they would terminate the lease instead, only to be refused, I decided to put the whole thing behind me as it was making me ill. That night (and you really will not believe this !) I got in my car to drive home from the office and the car was all over the place, it would not change gear, would not go over 50 and drove like a dog. I video'd it as I thought that after all that had thus far transpired that Mercedes would not believe me - there were no engine management lights on by the way! The following day, the car drove fine, but I took it into Wolverhampton who then diagnosed another stored fault (this time related to exhaust sensor information rather than air flow sensor the first time) and proceeded to change yet another electrical connector. They told me that the car drove as it had because it had gone into "limp mode" and I should have phoned the recovery service - so a rap on the knuckles for me !

I have now covered 14,000 miles, Mercedes keep telling me that the car is not yet run in (they cannot tell me at what point it should complete its running in) , and the mpg's are steadily dropping back from their heady heights after the update, towards the new norm of 40 ish - and maybe 50 driving really gently on a run. It goes back to the lease company in November and I have to say now that I will be really glad to see the back of it. I have tried to get on with this car, but it's overly hard suspension, appalling engine and gearbox management set up and electrical glitches ruin it totally - notwithstanding that Mercedes customer services will offer you no support.

If you are the subsequent unlucky owner of my car when Mercedes sell it on, then I hope you have more luck with it than I - BU63 WOX.

By the way, will I ever have another Mercedes Benz ? Not a chance, in fact the other week I took the opportunity of using my partners 7 year old Hyundai in preference and left the A Class on the drive. It was the nicest and most pleasant weeks commuting that I have had, in just over a year - sort of says it all !

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reviewed by Anonymous on 16 October 2014
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Road TaxA–G
MPG41.5–80.7 mpg
Real MPG77.6%

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