The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback is a stylish, luxurious compact premium hatch that’s here to reclaim its crown in the sector that it started. It’s also comfortable and can boast the best cabin in this class.
It’s essentially a brand new model that shares nothing in common with its predecessors, with Mercedes daring to take a chance on a fresh take on a car that’s always sold well. Has it worked? OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback review.
Mercedes-Benz have been working with engines for over a century, and in that time have become recognised as a luxury brand. Read more about the history of Mercedes-Benz in our article that covers their story from the foundation of the company to the present day.
Overview of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback
On the Road
As ever with a Mercedes, this A-Class model puts comfort and luxury before performance. This itself helps to distinguish the car from its rivals, most of whom put a sporty driving experience at the heart of things.
The A-Class is refined and drives a lot like the brands’ bigger cars. This means the steering is precise (if a tad slow), there’s plenty of grip on offer, and the car is easy to live with and effortless to drive.
Feedback and responses aren’t as good as they are in rivals, however, and this is ultimately what might cause enthusiasts to look elsewhere.
Those who want an easygoing and pleasant driving experience will find great joy here though. The car is especially relaxed on the motorway, where it works well as a comfortable, long-distance cruiser.
In terms of its engines, a 1.5-litre diesel that powers the A180d model sits at the bottom of the range. It has a 0-62 time of 10.5 seconds so isn’t a total slouch, and it actually feels quicker than those numbers suggest.
It’s also refined and smooth – impressively so on both counts – and pairs up well with an accompanying 7-speed automatic gearbox that’s responsive and slick.
Alternatively, you can specify an optional 6-speed manual ‘box.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback Interior, Design and Build
Inside is where this car really comes into its own. In terms of tech, quality and design it leads the way in this class.
This is all the more impressive when you consider that Mercedes largely started with a blank canvas. The design is forward-thinking yet tasteful, while quality has never been higher.
Comfort levels, meanwhile, are as high as you’d expect them to be in a Mercedes.
That said, ride quality is actually a tad hit and miss when you’re moving at low speeds. In fact, we’d go as far as saying it’s on par with, say, a VW Golf, which is disappointing when you consider the calibre of this car. If ride quality is important to you, you’ll need to opt for the A250 petrol model, as it comes with a more sophisticated suspension setup than the diesel.
We have no complaints with the dashboard. Standard on all models is two 7″ infotainment screens, with one taking the place of conventional analogue dials that usually sit behind the wheel.
If you want bigger screens, you can upgrade them both to a pair of 10.25″ screens. Either way, the functionality on offer is awesome, and because they take care of so much, the rest of the dashboard is a simple affair.
Is the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback practical? It’s bigger than last time but it’s still disappointingly not as usable as some rivals. Space up front is fine and complements the cars luxurious image, but rear seat space is a different story. It’s a bit tight back there and passengers might find themselves complaining on longer trips.
30mm has actually been added to its wheelbase but it’s barely noticeable. While headroom is better, a high floor still limits space.
The boot meanwhile, measures 370-litres, which is pretty good for this class. It’s a good shape that makes life easy for you, and it can extend to 1,210-litres by folding the rear seats.
Is Mercedes-Benz reliable? Read our impartial and honest assessment of the marque.
Equipment and Safety of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback
Standard kit is good across the range, with all models coming with a pair of 7″ infotainment screens, as well as sat-nav, a digital radio, keyless go, cruise control, LED daytime running lights, a multifunction leather steering wheel and man-made leather seats.
The Sport trim adds 17″ alloys, two-zone climate control, carbon fibre trim, LED headlights and chrome trim.
Rounding things off is the AMG model with 18″ alloys, a bespoke grill design and a sportier body styling.
In terms of how safe the car is, the A-Class is still to be put through its crash test paces by Euro NCAP but a five-star rating is almost guaranteed. Its standard safety kit is good and includes cruise control, speed limit assistance, attention assist, lane keeping assistance and emergency braking.
Costs of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback
Prices for the new car start out from £22,850 and rise to £32,840. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the sole 1.5-litre 114bhp diesel is naturally the most frugal engine in the range. It can return as much as 68.9mpg on a good day if you stick to the 16” alloys, which makes it one of the most economical cars of its type.
Emissions are pegged at 108g/km of CO2 if you stick to the 16” alloys and 111g/km if you opt for bigger wheels. The size of wheels you go for will also affect how much road tax you pay in the first year (£165 versus £205).
Insurance-wise, the car sits in group 20 out of 50.
Pros and Cons of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback
Build quality is superb once again from Mercedes.
Top notch interior
This cabin is the best in its class, with comfort and quality levels all raising the bar.
It’s one of Mercedes’ most compact cars, but it still manages to look as slick as you’d expect.
Lack of engine choice
There’s only one diesel available and its 0-62 time of 10.5 seconds might make it too slow for some buyers.
Not very sporty
It looks pretty sporty but its driving experience is anything but. If you want a sporty ride, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback vs BMW 1 Series vs Audi A3
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback vs BMW 1 Series
The new BMW 1 Series is a classy compact premium family car that’s great to drive.
A fantastic driving experience is at the heart of what it offers, and this is the best handling car in the class. It benefits from a rear wheel drive layout, agility is good, and even ride quality is excellent.
That said, if you opt for a sportier trim the harsher suspension and larger alloys will reduce ride quality.
Because the steering is speed-sensitive it works in both the town and out on the motorway. It’s also pretty handy on twisting country roads, where it weighs up fast.
In terms of the engines, a 116d diesel sits at the bottom of the range. It’s smooth and refined and completes the 0-62 dash in around 8.0 seconds.
For more performance, you’ll need to take a look at either the 120d or the 125d model. The former develops 190bhp and has a 0-62 time of 6.8 seconds, while the latter is able to get you from a standstill to 62mph in just 6.3 seconds. That makes it as fast as a hot hatch.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can specify xDrive four-wheel drive with the 120d model. This is actually the first time BMW have offered this system with the 1 Series.
Running costs? All the diesels come with stop-start tech to keep the costs down, with the 118d model able to return a rather excellent 60mpg at best. It also has a BiK rating of 25% which makes it even more attractive.
Inside, the BMW isn’t quite as comfortable as the Mercedes, with the brand opting for a sportier driving experience. However, the cabin is otherwise an excellent place to spend your time.
The ambience is distinctly upmarket, the seats are supportive, and the dashboard is clearly laid out with solid and robust controls. It doesn’t get the same sort of advanced tech as the Mercedes though, but all models come with a 6.5″ colour screen.
Is the BMW 1 Series practical? Visibility is great, and the car is super easy to park. Apart from that, the car comes up a bit short. Rear seat space is especially limited while choosing the three-door model means that accessing the rear seats will be tricky.
If you go for the five-door model, the wheel arches actually eat into rear seat space.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 360-litres. Fold the rear seats and you can extend it to 1,200-litres.
Mercedes – £22,850 – £32,840
BMW – £22,440 – £40,400
Mercedes-Benz A-Class Diesel Hatchback vs Audi A3
The new Audi A3 is a practical five-door hatchback that offers plenty of luxury to go along with a competent driving experience.
Where the Mercedes is comfortable and the BMW is sporty, the Audi is predictable. Performance is effortless, and the car is nice and smooth on the move.
There’s nothing wrong at all with the way it drives, and if you’re looking for an easygoing cruiser, this could tempt you away from the Mercedes.
In terms of its engines, a 1.6-litre TDI is the smallest diesel available. It has a 0-62 time of 10.4 seconds and offers a good blend of economy and performance.
Next up is a 2.0-litre 148bhp diesel engine that covers the 0-62 dash in 8.1 seconds if you specify the automatic gearbox, while a 181bhp variant of the same engine adds four-wheel drive and gets you from rest to 62mph in just 6.1 seconds. It’s a thrilling engine.
Running costs? The 1.6-litre diesel is quite remarkable in this area, returning over 70mpg on a good day while emitting 106g/km of CO2. That qualifies it for a BiK rating of 23%.
The 148bhp variant of the 2.0-litre diesel is a better engine and hardly any less economical. It can return 67.3mpg and has the same BiK rating.
Inside, you can always rely on Audi to deliver the goods when it comes to their cabins. The materials used are of a very high quality, the dashboard is neatly organised, the design is smart and tasteful, and standard kit is good.
It’s a bit of a shame that Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit system is only optional in some models but it’s well worth specifying.
Moreover, it’s only the higher spec models that benefit from lashings of aluminium detailing, although all models come with a 5.8″ colour infotainment screen that dominates the dashboard.
Is the Audi A3 practical? It’s got a longer wheelbase than last time, and it’s now one of the most spacious cars in this class. It’s durable too, and its cabin should stand up well to family life on the road.
Four adults can sit in comfort, storage spaces are good and the wide opening doors make it easy to instal child seats.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 380-litres. Fold the rear seats and you can extend that to 1,220-litres.
Audi – £22,199 – £33,844
Verdict of our 2018 Mercedes A-Class Diesel Hatchback Review
Comfortable, stuffed with tech and great to look at, the new A-Class is an all-round winner. It’s affordable to run, boasts the best cabin in its class and has all the substance behind the badge that you could want. The new Mercedes A-Class Diesel Hatchback is ideal for anyone who wants a high-tech, premium hatchback.