Model: Mercedes-Benz A220 d 7G-DCT AMG Line
Drivetrain: 175bhp 2.1-litre diesel, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Lease in this spec’ from: £264.99/month (A-Class leasing offers start from: £197.99/month)
Ah, the A-Class. Once a mum-mobile, now an affordable and super-stylish hatchback. But how does it drive? Danni Bagnall finds out.
The A-Class sits in the small family hatchback category, but even with that prestigious Mercedes badge, can it finally compete with the likes of the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series? Well, I happen to think it can.
My test model was the A220d AMG Line. The name itself is a little misleading. You’d think that you’d be getting 220bhp, when in actual fact you get 175 – not that that’s in any way a deal-breaker.
The outside looks great. Put it side-by-side with its predecessor and you wouldn’t think they were the same car. The exterior of the car looks particularly sporty, thanks to the AMG-Line trim. Some of the features the lesser-powered sibling takes from its hotter big brother include the front and rear apron and side skirts. The brake calipers also have a sporty vibe to them with ‘Mercedes Benz’ lettering on a black background, and the door sills are illuminated with that same lettering. It also has privacy glass from the B-pillar backwards.
So, it looks great, but how does it drive? Well, it’s a dream, as long as you have your music on. The 2.1-litre diesel unit can be rather loud under your foot, particularly when accelerating from low speeds. Coupled with the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, it’s a pleasure to drive through the higher gears, but can be a bit lacklustre from start, particularly irritating when you’re at a roundabout and need to pull out quickly. There’s a slight delay from the car realising you’ve pressed the throttle. As long as you keep this in mind, though, you’ll be amazed at how comfortable this car is. It’s a joy to drive on long journeys, and it’s easy in traffic too. Overtaking isn’t a problem, either. Its 175bhp is more than enough power. It might have a bit of a lag from the off, but it soon picks up the required momentum. Not only that, it’s ridiculously good on fuel. With a claimed mpg of 70.6, I thought there might have been some exaggeration, but from my tests under usual driving conditions with barely any motorway usage, the figures seem to be quite true. Despite the engine being quite noisy, wind noise is typical of similar vehicles, so there’s no real issue there at all.
The A-Class handles well on country roads, showing strong grip with the road. Surprisingly, its steering is very direct with good feel, so even though it’s a diesel it can be rather fun in some of the tighter bends. On the road, visibility is good at the front but is slightly compromised over your shoulder due to large pillars. It’s not a deal-breaker, but you will need to compensate for those blind spots with added awareness and an extra look over your right side. It has a claimed 0-62mph of 7.5 seconds and tops out at 140mph. CO2 figures comes in at 104g/km, appealing to business fleet managers.
On the inside, materials are much improved from the pre-facelift model. It’s certainly an interior worthy of the Mercedes label. From the buttons and switches to the air vents, it’s all put together quite beautifully, adding to the comfort and boding confidence for day-to-day wear. The seats are extremely comfortable, and if they’re not, there are plenty of ways you can change them. These functions sit in the door card and include three settings that you can save. For example, if you happen to share your car with someone else, you don’t need to keep readjusting your seating position. You’re also able to manually adjust the steering column for rake and reach, which helps in getting that perfect position. There are also a number of carbon-fibre look trim details, which give the feel of the car a real sporty edge. The front seats are heated, which is an added bonus on a cold frosty morning, and for the summer, there’s a cool panoramic sunroof. Passengers in the back should be fairly comfortable, unless they’re rather tall. Anyone 6ft-plus will probably find it somewhat claustrophobic due to its sloping black roofline.
Standard equipment includes the likes of the Dynamic Select system which enables you to change the car to your liking. Aspects include changing the car’s steering and acceleration, all via a handy button. You also get a reversing camera and sensors, with parking guideline and a 180-degree view. My test model had the Premium Plus package fitted, which also included Parking Pilot technology, as well as nifty under-seat drawers, which help with storage capacity, and 8-inch media display to the centre dash. We happen to think the media interface is a bit ‘aftermarket’ looking, as though an iPad imitation has been stuck on. Despite looking less than great, it’s actually very easy to use and includes popular functions such as Apple Carplay, DAB, USB functionality, SD card slot and Garmin Map Pilot.
Other added features include cruise control with limiter, start/stop technology and lowered comfort suspension (lowered by 15mm to the rear and 20mm to the front), which helps the car to soak up the finer kinks on our UK roads, with the exception of harsher pot holes that don’t always agree with the attractive 18-inch AMG alloy wheels.
Safety features include Active Bonnet, which raises the bonnet by 65mm should an impact be imminent, Adaptive Brake Assist, which includes Hill Start Assist, a first aid kit and warning triangle. A spare wheel isn’t available, unfortunately, but you do get the tyre sealant kit called TIREFIT, just in case. Blind Spot Assist is featured, as well as Lane Keeping Assist which can be turned off if required. Mercedes’ renowned PRE-SAFE safety system also ‘senses’ critical road situations, while initiating preventive safety measures if required.
Boot space is ample, coming in at between 341 and 1,157-litres with the seats down, but does come in behind its aforementioned Audi and BMW rivals.
The A-Class lineup itself starts from around £28k OTR, but this particular variant and the added optional extras took my test car to £37,455. I’m not sure how I’d feel about forking out that much for it, but with the excellent PCP and personal lease offers available on them, it’s a great option to consider if you’re a private or company car driver.