One Mercedes-Benz has put a firm foothold on the premium hatches market, but does it live up to the hype? We take out the A-Class and put it through its paces.
The Rise of the Premium Hatchbacks
Premium hatchbacks have fast become one of the most popular segments on the market today, with three models standing out above the crowd – the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class.
Despite this, they’ve all remained relatively unchanged for quite a few years now, but Mercedes has been the first to pull the trigger on the new generation of luxury hatches.
Not only does the three-pointed star have its sights set on getting an early lead in its class – with a new 1 Series on the horizon and Audi likely to refresh its hatch in the next couple of years – but also setting a new tech benchmark.
What’s been updated?
Although this is still instantly recognizable as an A-Class – despite a new design to bring it in line with Mercedes’ latest offerings – there’s plenty of new tech and engineering behind the hatchback.
One of the biggest selling points is a new infotainment system, dubbed MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). It has been designed to offer a more immersive experience – bringing a new Mercedes Me voice assistant, lots of customizability and some augmented reality features for satellite navigation.
Elsewhere, there’s more semi-autonomous technology and a range of new engines – two petrol and one diesel.
What’s under the bonnet?
One option that we tested was the 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, paired with a seven-speed automatic dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Manual gearboxes are also available.
It develops 114bhp and 260Nm of torque, capable of taking the A-Class from 0-60mph in 10.3 seconds and on to a 126mph top speed. As for economy, Mercedes claims 62.7mpg can be achieved on the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 108g/km.
The ride offers enough for daily usage and feels well refined on longer cruises, with little noise to be heard in the cabin.
What’s it like to drive?
Its semi-autonomous driving technology – which comes in the form of adaptive cruise control with road sign recognition – means chewing up the motorway miles can be a stress-free experience.
Take it around town and a short turning circle combined with good all-round visibility makes it easy enough to use as a daily machine.
How does it look?
The A-Class is the latest Mercedes to take on the more angular design language as introduced on the CLS. It remains instantly recognisable as member of the German firm’s hatchback model line.
Buyers will want to know their car will still stand out on the road in the same way its predecessors did, and it does thanks to sharp lines and a subtly aggressive look. The A-Class brings a presence to the road that many of its rivals will envy.
What’s it like inside?
As you should expect with a car of such high quality, the A-Class is a luxurious and comfortable place to be sat in. There’s tonnes of premium-feel materials throughout the cabin, such as synthetic leather upholstery, metal-effect trim pieces and a Nappa leather steering wheel. Not only does it all feel good to the touch, but it’s solidly put together too.
As for space, four adults can sit in the car in relative comfort. The boot is bigger than its predecessor too, now boasting 370 litres of luggage space – a 29-litre increase.
What’s the spec like?
The car we tested came with the AMG line trim, meaning standard equipment includes 18-inch alloy wheels, AMG bodystyling, LED headlights, keyless start and the MBUX system displayed on a seven-inch touchscreen. Highlights on the options list include heated and ventilated seats, active parking assist and two 10.25-inch displays – one of the instrument cluster, and another for the MBUX system.
The MBUX system is a standout feature of the car. Not only is it intuitive, but the range of customisation options really brings a real touch of personalisation to the car. A ‘Mercedes Me’ voice assistant has been added here too – similar to the likes of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa – which allows some functions of the car to be controlled by voice whilst you drive, as well as providing deeper levels of information.
The bonus of the Mercedes Me voice assistant is that it can be update via wi-fi automatically.
The new Mercedes A-Class has set a benchmark for the next generation of premium hatchbacks, and one that may prove tough to crack for impending competitors.
It offers a seriously well-equipped package with technology that perhaps wouldn’t be seen on cars twice the price
For the image-conscious and tech-focused buyer, its a fantastic option.
Facts at a glance
Model as tested: Mercedes A180d AMG Line
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel
Power (bhp): 114
Torque (Nm): 260
Max speed (mph): 126
0-60mph: 10.3 seconds
MPG (combined): 62.7
Emissions (g/km): 108
If you would like to find out more about the Mercedes A-Class, you can find out more at Rosedale Leasing today.