Reading Time: 7 minutes
  • P11D Value: £27,080
  • BIK Band 2018/19: 27%
  • 5-door, 5-seater hatchback
  • 116hp/260Nm, 1.5-litre four cylinder diesel/7 speed automatic
  • Economy (com)/CO2: 68.9mpg/111g/km
  • Performance: 10.5secs/125mph

What is it?

THIS is the all-new Mercedes A-Class. It’s the fourth generation of the compact hatchback and takes on an even sportier stance than its predecessor.

The bonnet is 50mm lower than the outgoing car; the roofline lower; it’s a long way from A-Class Mk1 with its rather dumpy MPV styling.

And so is the tech stuffed into this appealing newcomer.

Straight out of the luxury S-Class comes the MBUX user experience with its standard two screens to display key information.

It’s intuitive, so learns your preferences. For instance which radio station you prefer. How you want to display key information (speed, revs, and so on).

You can choose from settings – Sport, for example, or Eco mode – which can be toggled.

There are two screens standard. The A 180 d Sport review car here comes with two standard 7 inch screens; you can specify two 10inch screens from the options packages.

Mercedes A-Class A 180 d Sport review - twin screens of MBUX

From the driver’s seat – this is what you get with the new A-Class: twin screens with essential information in front of the driver and navigation to the left

There’s also voice recognition – ‘Hey Mercedes’ – to control a variety of key features.

There’s a choice of three models from launch: SE, Sport and AMG Line.

There’s also a choice of three engines, all featuring seven speed automatic transmission. There’s just one diesel – the 1.5-litre turbo diesel; and two petrol engines – A 200 with a new 1.3litre turbo petrol and an A 250 with a 2.0 litre turbo petrol.

The diesel has traditionally been the best seller in the A-Class mainly due to its business motoring sales to SMEs and larger fleets: 70% of A-Class models are diesel.

And it’s this diesel model we’re trying here in mid range Sport spec.

Why would you want to drive a new Mercedes A-Class?

  • Perhaps the first thing to do is not to drive but figure out the MBUX system. It’s actually really intuitive and you can use in ‘simple’ mode with just a few minutes fiddling. When you get more experienced with it you can save your settings in a profile. Really useful if you and your partner share the car.
  • Talking of which, the satellite navigation graphics are brilliant – clear and precise, there is no chance of taking the wrong turning. You can add voice directions too, but the visual prompts are good enough on their own. These are on the left hand screen
  • On the screen in front of you, along with speed and revs, crucial information is flashed in front of you, such as a change of speed limit and Active Brake Assist warning if you are getting close to a car in front
  • With comfortable seats, the diesel engine happily laps up the miles – if you are a long distance business driver, this is definitely the choice for you. It’s very quiet and refined on the motorway and dual carriageways.
  • The ride is supple and comforting, whisking you along effortlessly. It’s all quite impeccable
  • The interior is a mix of high gloss black and matt black rubberised surface finishes – it all feels expertly screwed together – although the gearchange stalk feels oddly light weight and plasticky
  • Being a Mercedes, there’s plenty of standard safety kit. There’s Active Brake Assist and Active Lane-Keeping Assist, which has two modes: a gentle nudging on the steering wheel to keep within lanes; or a more dramatic reaction that pushes you back towards the centre lane with lots of noise from the ABS – apparently a requirement under EuroNCAP safety rules. It certainly makes enough noise to wake you up smartish if you had started to doze off.
  • There’s also ATTENTION Assist; Speed Limit Assist; and cruise control with variable speed limiter
  • Official fuel consumption is 68.9mpg – over 73 miles of our test route we saw 56.4mpg.
  • CO2 emissions are 108g/km, placing the A-Class A 180 d in the 26% company car tax band
  • Benefit in kind is £7312 for this model, giving rise to company car tax of £122 a month for a 20% tax payer; £244 a month for a 40% tax payer.

Mercedes A-Class A 180 d Sport reviewWhat might put you off a new Mercedes A-Class?

  • The diesel engine is lacking in go, and sounds whiny on acceleration – but once up to speed it’s really unobtrusive.
  • You might be put off by all tech – for those with technophobia, give the new A-Class a wide berth.
  • Company car tax banding has risen two percentage points compared to the old model with 111g/km playing 101g/km on the old model – no doubt thanks to WLTP testing which sees an average 10% increase in CO2.
  • You’ll need to put aside some serious time to get used to all the features in the MBUX
  • There are no hybrid or electric versions at present

Verdict on the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class

There’s little question the star turn of the new Mercedes A-Class is that twin screen with the MBUX and voice recognition functionality.

It gives the new A-Class an immediate edge over all rivals in this compact hatch business motoring sector.

But while the new A-Class looks familiar to the outgoing A-Class – not such a bad thing – it has been upgraded in every department, from ride and handling to comfort and interior space.

Is the diesel the right choice for you? For higher mileage business drivers, then it certainly will be. They will find the A-Class an economical, long distance business car with an interior enlivened by technology from the S-Class. Quite some talking point.

Lower mileage business drivers should consider the petrol A 200 model, though. It falls into a lower company car tax band, and while the fuel consumption will not be as good, it could prove more economical overall.

A lesson in using MBUX

We spoke to Andreas Bauerfeld, who has been responsible for MBUX in the A-Class. A computer science graduate, Andreas said the key point about MBUX was not to be afraid.

“You can always go back,” says Andreas. “You can either hit the return button or use the ‘home’ symbol and you will be taken back to where you started.”

Mercedes A-Class A 180 d Sport review

Andreas Bauerfeld from Mercedes – sitting in a demonstration module – has been responsible for MBUX in the A-Class

MBUX can accessed from the steering wheel buttons (left for the left hand screen, right for the right hand screen), you can use the touch screen or the touch pad in the central console. ‘Haptics’ provide feel and a click so you know where you are by touch.

“It was important to get that right,” explains Andreas. “It’s part of making MBUX easy to use. You can scroll through a variety of functions and explore them, but as said before, return to where you were originally. There’s no chance of finding a setting you like then having to use the default button which resets everything to factory settings. That’s the beauty of MBUX. It might be complex, but it is simple.”

Even Andreas says he doesn’t know exactly how many functions are available – “thousands” he says. So how long does it take to get to know the system?

“To learn the basic features just takes 10 minutes,” he says. “But it will take about six months to fully ‘deep dive’ the system and use it without thinking.”

Mercedes A-Class A 180 d Sport review

The new A-Class is more than just MBUX: the new car rides and handles better than its predecessor

What else should you know about the new Mercedes A-Class?

  • Prices start at £25,800 for entry-level A 180 d SE
  • There are three trims: SE, Sport and AMG Line; with a choice of three engines (A 180 d, A 200 and A 250), all with a seven-speed automatic gearbox
  • There will be further engines and a manual gearbox arriving later
  • Codenamed W177, the A-Class is now in its fourth generation; the first was launched in 1997
  • The new A-Class is wider (+14 mm), and longer (+30 mm)
  • The interior borrows finishing touches from the flagship S-Class, including a steering wheel with touchpads and the fully digital cockpit display.
  • The 180 d uses a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine, which produces 116 hp and 260 Nm of torque. It delivers up to 68.9 mpg on the combined cycle, with a top speed of 125 mph. It can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 10.5 seconds
  • The A 200 (from £27,500) is powered by a new 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with an output of 163 hp and 250 Nm. It can deliver up to 51.4 mpg and emits 123 g/km of CO2. It can travel from 0 to 62 mph in eight seconds and has a top speed of 139 mph
  • The A 250 (from £30,240) has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine which generates 224 hp and 350 Nm. It can achieve 45.6 mpg combined, while emitting 141 g/km of CO2. 0 to 62 mph takes 6.2 seconds and its top speed is 155 mph
  • Both the A 200 and A 250 petrol engines have a particulate filter as standard
  • A pair of seven-inch infotainment screens are standard. One or two 10.25-inch screens are optional. The two screens are housed under one sheet of glass, creating a widescreen cockpit display
  • SE models feature twin seven-inch displays including central touchscreen including MBUX multimedia system with voice activation; lowered comfort suspension; 16-inch alloy wheels; DAB radio; Artico and Bertrix fabric upholstery; Active Lane Keeping Assist; Speed Limit Assist; Keyless-Go starting function; air conditioning; and Mercedes-Benz navigation with real-time traffic information
  • The Sport trim line adds LED high performance headlights; 17-inch alloy wheels; Artico and Fléron fabric upholstery; and automatic climate control
  • AMG Line benefits from 18-inch AMG alloy wheels; AMG bodystyling; Artico and Dinamica microfibre upholstery; sports seats; and a three-spoke sports steering wheel
  • There are three packs with bundled options
  • Executive equipment line costs £1,395 and includes a 10.25-inch touchscreen media display; Active Parking Assist with Parktronic; heated front seats; and Mirror package
  • The £2,395 Premium equipment line adds a 10.25-inch cockpit display – creating a widescreen effect; 64-colour ambient lighting; illuminated door sills; Keyless Go; mid-range sound system; and rear armrest
  • Premium Plus equipment line (£3,595) adds memory function for the driver and front passenger seats; multibeam LED headlights with Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus; and panoramic sunroof
  • Inside there is more shoulder room (+9/+22 mm front/rear), elbow room (+35/+36 mm) and headroom (+7/+8 mm), and access to rear seats is easier than ever before
  • Load capacity is improved by 29 litres taking maximum load capacity to 370 litres (seats up) or 1,210 litres (seats down), while loading aperture is now 20 cm wider
  • All-round visibility has been improved by around 10 per cent by reducing the pillar cladding

Mercedes A-Class A 180 d Sport review

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