When you think of small cars, superminis or smart hatchbacks, you probably think of more affordable, economical, less stirring vehicles. After all, they are the most common type of cars you’ll find on the road. But don’t be fooled by the size. You can still get something classy in supermini/hatchback form, and cars don’t come much classier than the Mercedes A-Class.
First hitting the road in 1886, the Mercedes A-Class has been one of the finest ‘subcompact executive cars’ (that’s how Mercedes describes it) on the road for several generations. Updated in 2018, is the A-Class still at the top of the pile for high end hatchbacks?
From top to tail, the Mercedes A-Class is one of the most beautiful cars on the market. At the front, you have the distinctive Mercedes front grille, perfectly centred around the iconic company logo. On either side, the air vents seem to aggressively want to eat the road ahead, giving the car a fierce look.
As you go further back, the aerodynamic curves are a bit more uniform thanks to modern safety tech, but it’s still a sleek looking machine. At the back it’s all business, with a back door and boot lid that you’ll feel more than happy opening in the company car park or down at the sports club. It’s party at the front, business at the back.
The front-wheel drive means you feel like the car is running with you, rather than pushing from behind. It takes some getting used to, but once you’re up to speed, you’ll really feel like you’re cruising with the car, rather than being dragged behind.
0-60mph in 8.7 seconds is nothing to sniff at, and the seven-speed gearbox really comes into its own when you’re on the motorway. Handling is great at slow and high speeds, thanks to something called an ‘electromechanical steering rack’. It gives the wheel a weight that means you feel like you’re in control, even with the car doing most of the work for you.
Where Mercedes makes its name is in the interior quality to match the exterior, and the A-Class is no exception. A lot of thought has gone into the placement of the interior dials so they are all easy to access and comfortable to use while you drive. The finish on the dashboard is exquisite, and the digital displays make you feel like you are driving something special.
In terms of space, the cabin room has been used well, with plenty of knee room in the back and the front. And the ride itself is quite smooth thanks to the suspension, so you’ll be travelling in comfort no matter what road you’re on.
You aren’t buying a Mercedes because you are after low running costs. But even so, 60mpg on the basic standard A180D engine model is nothing to sniff at. There is one big financial bonus for the Mercedes A-Class. CAP the car price calculation company believe that its residual value will be much stronger than the Audi A3 or BMW 1 Series. So for future resale, your car will retain its value a lot better than others.