THE Mercedes-Benz brand is mostly associated with sports and luxury models, but many with more modest budgets aspire to own a Mercedes and the entry level model is the A Class, a well-designed and well-equipped family car.
Priced from €27,717 (£23,710), the A Class range offers petrol and diesel engines and manual and automatic transmissions and even entry-level SE versions come with a generous amount of standard features.
One of the popular choices is the entry-level SE model A180 diesel, which offers outstanding fuel economy, averaging 24.9 kpl (70.6 mpg). Powered by a 1.5-litre 116 hp diesel unit and with six-speed manual gearbox, this version has a 0-100 kph time of 10.6 seconds and top speed of 203 kph (126 mph). Emissions are low at 106 g/km.
In a sector which includes stalwarts such as the Volkswagen Golf and BMW 1 Series, the Mercedes A Class cuts a dash, offering more visual cachet thanks to its sleek styling and a dramatic front end dominated by a large example of its famous three-pointed badge.
Inside, it is a similar story with a wow-factor dashboard with turbine-style vents, multi-function sports steering wheel, chrome detailing and use of quality trim materials to create a very classy appearance which helps make you feel you are in something that is rather special. The seating is comfortable and supportive, and there is good occupant space front and rear. The boot space of 360 litres is expandable by folding the rear seats.
Standard equipment includes four powered windows, climate control, sat-nav, cruise control, reversing sensors, digital radio, Bluetooth and connectivity features, and safety kit includes auto emergency braking, lane departure warning and tyre pressure monitoring.
On the road, the engine delivers its power quietly, smoothly and progressively, making both city and open-road driving quite relaxing, The suspension is well-balanced providing precise and composed handling and supple ride quality.
Summing up, the A180 is a strong contender in the crowded family car sector, offering a very good all-round package with the kudos of a prestige badge. Mercedes says the A Class ‘redefines the compact class’ and I think anyone who test drives one will find it hard to challenge that assertion.
Facts at a glance
- Model: Mercedes-Benz A180 SE
- Engine: 1.5 litre diesel
- Transmission: 6-speed manual
- Performance: 0-100 kph 10.6 seconds, top speed 203 kph (126 mph)
- Economy: 24.9 kpl (70.6 mpg)
- Emissions: 106 g/km
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.