Mercedes A-Class (2012-present)

The Mercedes A-Class is an upmarket hatchback that trades space for style

Strengths & Weaknesses


Stylish looks
Lots of in-car tech
Economical diesel engines


Optional extras quite pricey
Sporty models’ suspension too harsh
Poor reliability and build quality record

By putting its three-pointed star badge on the grille of a family hatchback, Mercedes created a posh Ford Focus: the A-Class.

With a sculpted design, an upmarket interior and that badge, the small Mercedes promises hi-tech luxury in a compact car - just like the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Volvo V40.

Like a striped Paul Smith wallet, the small Mercedes appeals to buyers who can justify spending a bit more for its style and premium feel.

That’s why it comes well-equipped, and you can choose varied options, including a glitterball-effect grille, a dozen alloy wheel designs, bonnet stripes and two-tone leather seats, which make the car more personalised and individual.

It all means that the A-Class not really aimed at anyone in the market for a versatile and good-value family car. For a start, it’s not as practical as most cars of the same size: there’s less space in the back than in a Vauxhall Astra or Skoda Octavia.

The A-Class also has a smaller boot than most, including the Mazda 3, Hyundai i30 and Renault Megane. And with a list price starting at over £20,000, it’s also more expensive than all of them.

However, recent Mercedes A-Class discounts have reduced the price by around £3,000, making the cheapest models the same price as a high-specification Vauxhall Astra. And with strong used values, it will fetch a high second-hand price, helping to reduce the cost of owning or financing one.

Inside, the A-Class feels luxurious and has a distinctive design, with its circular air vents crossed with x-shape controls. The car received some updates in 2015, which improved its technology, but the basic design hasn’t changed much since 2011, and is starting to look a little dated, with a screen that looks like a small tablet computer, perched on the dashboard, from a time when the iPad was still a novelty. The software, controlled using a rotary dial, is simple to use and smooth.

That said, the interior of the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series look a little bland in comparison, even if the Audi has the edge in terms of a quality, solid feel.

Behind the driver are rear seats that are cramped in comparison to the competition: the price that you have to pay for the Mercedes’ sloping roof and compact looks. The back doors don’t open very wide, so getting yourself or a child seat in and out can be a little tricky.

The boot is also on the small side. The 341-litre load area is around 400 litres smaller than a VW Golf's boot, and the opening is narrow, which makes it fiddly and frustrating when you’re trying to squeeze in a bulky box or baby buggy.

Many of the A-Class versions have been designed to look sporty, but that’s not the car’s strength. Instead, it’s been designed for comfort, and it soaks up bumps and potholes effectively, much like the Audi A3.

The sportier AMG-Line and Mercedes-AMG versions are fitted with harder suspension, which can give you the impression that the car is more responsive when you turn the steering wheel. It still doesn’t feel as nimble or sporty as a BMW 1 Series, though, but makes the ride bumpier and less comfortable.

The wide range of engines stretches from small, economical petrol diesel motors, all the way up to the powerful unit fitted to the Mercedes-AMG A45, which can accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.2 seconds, which is faster than some Aston Martins.

The A-Class was given the top five-star safety score from the independent Euro NCAP organisation, when it was launched in 2012.

Video review from 2013

Last Updated 

Monday, May 8, 2017 - 11:45

Key facts 

Three years/unlimited miles
Boot size: 
341 litres
Tax (min to max): 
£100 to £800 in first year, £140 or £450 thereafter / Pre-April 2017 cars: £0 to £205

Best Mercedes-Benz A Class for... 

Mercedes-Benz A180d SE 5dr diesel hatchback
Mercedes’ A180d engine returns a remarkable 80.4mpg and has low enough CO2 emissions to be exempt from road tax. Beware, though, that these figures only apply on the standard 16-inch wheels. If you go for bigger optional alloy wheels, you’re into £20-a-year road tax territory.
Mercedes-Benz A200d SE 5dr diesel hatchback
Although the A180d engine is very efficient, we think the slightly more powerful A200d will be better suited to the typical family motoring mix of urban and motorway driving carrying four people and luggage. Entry-level SE specification has more than enough kit, though.
Mercedes-Benz A45 4Matic 5dr Auto AMG hatchback
The A45 AMG is very powerful – even by the standards of hot hatchbacks. A 376bhp power output sees it get from 0-62mph in a supercar-like 4.2 seconds. Handling is good, too, and its sporty bodykit and spoiler are guaranteed to turn heads.
Mercedes-Benz A250 AMG
The A250 AMG model is ‘nearly an A45’ – it’s quite fast and sporty-looking, just not as powerful as the range-topper. It’s quite expensive to buy and run, though, and won’t hold its value well. If you want a fast A Class, you may as well go all the way with the A45 above.

Mercedes-Benz A Class History 

  • March 2012 New Mercedes A-Class unveiled at Geneva motor show
  • May 2013 Recall of 111 Jun-Dec 2012 A-Class cars for airbag fault
  • October 2013 Recall of 59 Jun-Jul 2013 A-Class models for seat safety issue
  • December 2013 ‘4Matic’ four-wheel-drive system added to range
  • January 2015 Some A-Class among 62k Mercedes recalled for potential oil leak
  • June 2015 New ultra-efficient A180d diesel launched, with 89g/km CO2 emissions
  • July 2015 Some A-Class models among 3,890 Mercedes' recalled for potential loss of drive

Understanding Mercedes-Benz A Class car names 

  • A Class
  • Engine
  • Drive
  • Trim
    AMG Line
  • Gearbox
  • Engine
    The A Class diesel engines all end in ‘d’: A180d, A200d and A220d. The petrol range comprises the A180, A200, A220, A250 and range-topping A45 AMG.
  • Drive
    Four-wheel-drive A Class models get the ‘4Matic’ badge
  • Trim
    The trim level affects the amount of equipment that you get as standard and also has a big impact on comfort: sportier AMG-Line models have harder sport suspension. The entry-level A-Class trim level is SE, followed by Sport, AMG Line, and the range-topping Mercedes-AMG A45
  • Gearbox
    Manual and seven-speed automatic are offered

Mercedes-Benz A Class Engines 

Petrol: A180, A200, A250, A45
Diesel: A180d, A200d, A220d

The A-Class has a surprisingly large range of engines, with no less than three diesels and three petrols to choose from, plus the A45 flagship model’s very powerful petrol.

Buyers will inevitably be drawn to the A180d diesel’s 80-plus mpg figure and ultra-low 89g/km CO2 emissions (on standard 16-inch wheels). But while the running costs are attractively low, a meagre 108bhp means this engine is far from sprightly and makes everyday driving a bit of a chore.

That’s why the A200d diesel engine makes the A Class a better all-rounder. It brings the 0-62mph time down under 10 seconds yet still returns nearly 69mpg and emits just 106g/km of CO2 on 16-inch wheels, so you’re only going to be paying £20 a year road tax. Both the A180d and A200d are available with a choice of manual or Mercedes’ excellent and very smooth seven-speed automatic gearbox.

The A220d diesel has the same fuel-economy and road-tax figures as the A200d, but is faster and more powerful still. It’s available with just automatic transmission and can be paired with Mercedes’ 4Matic four-wheel-drive system. But it’s only offered in expensive AMG Line or Motorsport Edition specification, making it hard to wholeheartedly recommend.

The excellent diesels make the three A Class petrol engines seem a bit redundant, but they can still be a good choice, particularly if you do less than around 12,000 miles per year or spend most of your driving time in town. The entry-level A180 is the cheapest route into A Class ownership, but its 51.4mpg fuel economy is nothing to write home about. The A200 is a more well rounded engine and as with the diesels, both this and the less powerful petrol offer the choice of manual or automatic transmission.

The A250 is only available in its own specific trim level, called ‘250 AMG’, which is pretty expensive to both buy and run. There’s a choice of manual, automatic or four-wheel-drive automatic setups with this engine. But if you want a truly fast A Class, we think you’re better off with the range-topping A45 AMG: an extremely powerful and capable hot hatchback.


Fuel economy


Acceleration (0-62mph)

Top speed











































Mercedes-Benz A Class Trims 

SE, Sport, AMG Line, Motorsport Edition, 250 AMG, A45 AMG

Put simply, most buyers won’t need to look beyond the entry-level SE model of the A Class. Leather upholstery, air-conditioning, a reversing camera, a seven-inch tablet-style screen in the centre of the dashboard, a three-spoke leather steering wheel, 16-inch alloy wheels and automatic braking assistance all feature as standard, leaving owners wanting for little.

If you do want to spend more, though, the Sport trim version adds 17-inch wheels, a driving mode selector (with economical, comfort and sport settings), rain-sensing wipers, a larger eight-inch tablet screen and automatic climate control instead of basic air-conditioning.

Next up is the AMG Line, which has a sporty-looking bodykit, upgraded seats, even larger 18-inch alloys and lowered suspension. That all sounds nice, but those big wheels and lower suspension translate to pretty harsh ride quality, particularly on our bumpy UK roads.

At the time of writing, Mercedes was offering a Motorsport Edition of the A Class to celebrate its Formula One team’s success in 2015. While this may appeal to diehard fans, its rather garish green stripes and exterior trim enhancements will put most buyers off.

The A250 AMG model is a sort of halfway house between the regular A Class and the high-performance A45 AMG model. It has its own punchy 215bhp engine, plenty of eye-catching styling additions to ape the look of the A45 and the option of four-wheel drive.

Buyers of that model will probably find themselves wishing they’d gone for the ‘full-fat’ version, though. There’s really no substitute for the hugely fast and entertaining A45.

Mercedes-Benz A Class Reliability and warranty 

The Mercedes A Class didn’t cover itself in glory in Auto Express magazine’s 2015 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, where it was ranked 145th out of 200 cars for reliability and 184th for build quality.

Those results dragged down its overall position in the survey to 119th out of 200. That’s not really what you want to hear about a prestigious brand like Mercedes, but on the plus side, the A Class’ three-year warranty has no mileage limit, so any faults or fixes in that time will be covered regardless of how far you’ve driven. Many rivals limit their warranty cover to just 60,000 miles.

Used Mercedes-Benz A Class 

Like cars from other upmarket brands such as Audi, BMW and Volkswagen, the Mercedes A Class tends to hold a decent proportion of its value on the used market – particularly the more efficient diesel models and the sought-after A45 AMG hot hatchback version.

Discounts from dealers can be quite good, though, and as you can see from the table below, at the time of writing it was possible to get a brand-new A Class from close to the expected market value of a year-old used example. So even if you think you’ll have to buy nearly-new or year-old used, see what offers are on the table before you commit – a brand-new car may work out just as affordable.

As this third-generation A Class was introduced in early 2013, you won’t find any examples more than three years old right now. They will be coming to the end of their three-year factory warranty cover, however. The patchy reliability suggested by the car’s customer satisfaction survey results above means you should probably stick to one or two-year-old examples with some cover remaining to be on the safe side.

Prices below show typical BuyaCar discounts for our pick of new and used models. Scroll down further for the very latest new Mercedes A Class deals or search for all new and used Mercedes A Class offers.

List price

BuyaCar new

1 year old

2 years old

3 years old

Best for performance

Mercedes-Benz A45 4Matic 5dr Auto AMG hatchback












Best for families

Mercedes-Benz A200d SE 5dr diesel hatchback












Best for economy

Mercedes-Benz A180d SE 5dr diesel hatchback