Mercedes-Benz A-Class First Drive Review

The new A-Class has arrived in Ireland!

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The new 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has arrived in Ireland, priced from €31,600. Caroline has been driving the new A-Class hatchback at the Irish launch.

Styling

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has a sleeker and sharper appearance than the outgoing car, while the new grille and headlamps bring the car more in line with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range. The car is visually extended by the longer wheelbase and character line along the side. The new A-Class has all the presence of a smart, compact premium vehicle, with AMG Line models looking particularly good with a sportier styling kit and 18” five spoke alloy wheels.

Interior

The interior is completely new with some striking new design elements like the sporty turbine effect air vents and good quality materials making it a fit for the premium price tag. The new MBUX multimedia and infotainment system is the focal point, and there are a number of different screen combinations available depending on trim: two 7-inch displays, one 7- and one 10.25-inch display and two 10.25-inch displays. The MBUX uses artificial intelligence to learn and memorise instructions – in short it becomes familiar with the driver, making commands more intuitive. It can be operated via voice control and to get its attention all you have to say is ‘Hey Mercedes’ and your command!

Practicality

Inside the new A-Class feels roomier, with more space in the back too. There’s more shoulder, elbow and headroom. The boot is now 29 litres larger than before at 370 litres, which is competitive for the segment.

Engines

Engine options will include two new four-cylinder petrol engines (1.4-litre A200 with 163hp and 2.0-litre A250 with 224hp) and a new four cylinder diesel (1.5-litre A180d with 116hp). 6 speed manual and 7 speed dual clutch automatic gearboxes will be available, as will 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive.

At the launch I drove the A180d Automatic with the new 1.5-litre diesel engine. It’s very impressive with good refinement and plenty of power for this compact model.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The interior of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class

On the road

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is nicely refined and sporty to drive. There is the sensation of being pushed along, characteristic of rear wheel drive vehicles. The steering is light but precise and the car feels neat and agile through corners. There are a number of driving modes to spice things up a little more, with Sport mode and the 1.5 diesel being a particularly good combination!

Equipment

In Ireland there are three trim levels: Style, Progressive and AMG Line. Standard equipment includes 16″ alloys, air con, active lane keeping assist, digital instrument cluster, MBUX multimedia system with touchscreen and touchpad, cruise control, Dynamic Select, heated front seats, reversing camera and part leather upholstery.

Progressive adds more chrome and carbon fibre effect trim to the cabin, automatic climate control, 17″ alloys, LED  headlamps, and visible tailpipe trim elements and rear apron with trim in chrome.

AMG Line adds a sport steering wheel, brushed stainless steel pedals, direct-steer system, aluminium trim, sports seats, 18″ alloys, AMG bodystyling, and diamond radiator grille with chrome pins.

Pricing

At launch, only automatics are available. The A180d Automatic starts at €31,600 and the A200 petrol starts at €34,235. An entry-level A160 Petrol and A160d will arrive later with pricing expected to be around €30,000.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class goes on sale in Ireland priced from €31,600

Rivals

The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class will go up against other premium compact rivals like the Audi A3 and the BMW 1-Series.

Verdict

Mercedes-Benz say that the new A-Class ‘raises the bar’ in the compact segment. It comes to market with impressive new technology and improved quality and design that really poses a threat to rivals like the 1-Series and A3. For buyers looking for an entry into the Mercedes-Benz brand, the A-Class packages the quality and style of Mercedes-Benz with a surprising fun to drive character and good standard spec.

Caroline Kidd