It’s not that long ago the the Mercedes-Benz A-Class was having problems with elks. The Mark 1 was a compact people carrier that sold to older customers. When Mercedes launched their new A- Class in 2012, it was completely different. Gone were the MPV looks to be replaced by a far more attractive small hatchback, a car to compete with the BMW 1 Series & Audi A3. The A-Class though, didn’t just compete, it sold better than both the BMW & the Audi & most importantly to a much younger customer base. Low finance offers also helped propel the A-Class into the sales charts. The fact that it was great looking, well equipped & cleverly designed also helped, but it was a little pokey inside. So, when the designers at Daimler put pen to paper to set out the plans for the latest A-Class, one of the provisos was that it was more spacious & when it arrived in 2018 it certainly was.
In a sector where millimetres make a difference the new A-Class is 14mm longer, offers +9mm of front & +22mm of rear shoulder room, + 35mm /36mm of elbow room & +7mm/+ 8mm of headroom. Access to the rears seats is easier & there’s an additional 29 litres in the boot, with 370 litres on offer.
Tech wise, the latest A-Class is class leading. The interior borrows finishing touches from the S-Class, including a steering wheel with touchpad so & a full digital cockpit display. Standard equipment includes the all new MBUX user experience with touchscreen interface with ‘Hey Mercedes’ intelligent voice recognition. A pair of 7″ infotainment screens are standard, with one or two 10.5″ screens options with the Executive, Premium or Premium Plus equipment lines.
Our test model was the relatively new to the range, A200d, one of a pair of diesels, there’s a 220d too, recently added to the range, which complement the existing A180d & A250d. The A200d offers up a sizeable 148bhp with a 0-62mph time of 8.0 seconds & a top speed of 139mph. Combined fuel economy is 53.3 mpg, CO2 emissions are 123g/km & all of this from a very driver friendly 7-speed auto box.
So impressed was I by the A-Class dashboard, I put it on Twitter. It looks brilliant & once you’ve worked out how to utilise its functionality, it’s head & shoulders above the rest of infotainment on offer in this sector. The screen in front of the driver shows driving info & data, while the central screen caters for infotainment & SatNav functions. The SatNav is excellent & when approaching junctions this features a forward facing camera & in real time superimposes arrows on the screen which remind you of where to turn next.
The quality impresses. From the five air vents across the dashboard, to the steering wheel controls, dashboard top & central binnacle, all are top-notch.
You sit low down in the drivers seat & the cabin feels sporty. Internal lighting is cleverly focused from above your head switchgear. The hand brake is now a push button to the right of the steering wheel, with the auto gear lever on the right hand side of the steering wheel, lights & wipers are accessed via the stalk on the left side of the wheel.
There’s definitely more room in the cabin too, especially in the rear where my six-foot tall son sat comfortably on a medium length journey. The front seats though, do block out light in the back & the cabin can feel a little dark, especially in mid-December !
The boot is also an improvement over the one offered on the last model. It’s easier to access & the 370 litres on offer is supplemented by a small amount of underfloor storage. Fold the rear seats down, they come with a useful 40/20/40 split & the load space goes up to 1,210 litres. The load space though is not flush to the floor.
Safety kit’s impressive on the new A-Class. This includes an active bonnet, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, auto headlights, plus active brake assist, active lane keeping assist, attention assist, speed list assist & cruise control with limiter.
From a drivelers perspective the new A-Class is fun to drive. There’s a ‘sport’ mode function which enhances this enjoyment, but even in Eco mode it’s still very good. Around town, the car is quiet, but the auto box can be a little fidgety in the way it delivers the gear changes in slow moving traffic. Around town, our fuel economy fell to 30.9mpg, but on the motorway, this rose back up to a more forgiving 44.3mpg, giving us an average of around 38mpg, which I don’t think is bad at all, especially for such a drivable car.
Unsurprisingly, it’s on the open road or motorway where it shines brightest.Tight bends are hugged & the Sport model features very,very good brakes. The cabin remains quiet on the motorway even in heavy rain & once on the move the driving seat is a relaxing place to spend a few hours travelling. Kudos as well for the sound system on board, which is brilliant ! Whether using DAB radio, Apple CarPlay, or Bluetooth, the sound system is super-clear especially when speaking hands-free on the telephone.
The A200d also featured three USB interfaces, one front, two rear, two-zone climate control & a keyless-go start function. On the exterior, the Sport features a diffuser low rear apron in chrome, a diamond grille in black & LED high performance headlights.
Take a quick glance at the latest A-Class & at first it may not look too dissimilar to the outgoing model. Don’t be fooled though. Mercedes have cleverly taken the best bits of the previous model, good looks, quality cabin & have added so much more than you’d expect, improving the space in it, the tech, which is miles better, the ride, more forgiving & the quality. This is easily the class leader.
The A200d comes with a P11d of £27,580 & a BIK tax rate of 25%.
If you’re in the market for a premium hatchback, then the latest A-Class really should be top of your list. 4.25/5