New Family Car Review
The A-Class Mercedes is a great-looking hatchback, perfect for city dwellers who are looking for a luxury car that can handle the demands of family life
The Mercedes A-Class is a luxury hatchback that allows you to run around in style. A smaller footprint means it's a dream to park, but with reduced storage space, this may not be the choice for everyone.
- Great to drive
- Easy to park
- Luxury interiors
- Only two isofix points, won't fit three car seats in back seat
- Less storage space than rival models
- Average infotainment system
Inside the Mercedes A-Class
Inside the A-Class the materials look and feel pretty good, as you’d expect from a premium badge. There are high-quality plastics (or leather on the higher-end models) on the top half of the dash, and robust materials lower down, which should happily survive kicks, prods or spillages. However, the plastic on the central arm between the driver and front passenger is hard, and the infotainment screen looks like it was popped on at the end of designing the interior; there are better systems out there for the money. There is, however, dual air-con, and of course the obligatory child locks on windows and doors.
A hatchback is a good choice for a family car if you live in a town and your children have already outgrown big bulky travel systems. What you gain is a smaller footprint which makes parking and manoeuvring much easier, but what you lose is boot and leg space. The A-Class is a doddle to park, with parking sensors and, on more expensive versions, a rear camera, which you shouldn’t really need but adds confidence in confined spaces.
How many car seats can you fit in a Mercedes A-Class?
In the rear of the Mercedes, there’s room for two child seats with easy, reachable IsoFix bars, and enough leg and head room for two adults, or three at a push. However the window sills are high up, for a more sporting design from the outside, which isn’t great for children prone to travel sickness.
Storage and extras
Because this is a hatch, you suffer with boot space. Despite this, the A-Class makes up for what it lacks in width or length (there's only room for a carry cot or babyseat, but no pram base) with enough depth for a plentiful weekly family shop. Disappointingly, our A-Class had a manual boot, as opposed to an electronically powered one which lifts by itself. Many cheaper brands have automatically opening tailgates these days which are invaluable when your arms are full of children and shopping.
There's a decent amount of storage space in the front, for such a small car, with two cupholders, one storage cubbyhole deep enough for a drinks bottle, a storage tray for keys and a big space under the centre arm rest with two USB charging points. But in the back there's next to nothing, just two small storage bins in the rear doors, which is not ideal with children.
Where a lot of car brands go for an unmovable panoramic sunroof these days, which is just an expanse of glass, the A-Class has a big sun roof which is a welcome addition on a summer's day to let in some fresh air.
The A-Class comes with a decent amount of kit, even on the basic models. Sport mode adds driving modes, automatic wipers, fancier air-conditioning, and the infotainment screen. Then there’s the sporty AMG Line versions, and Motorsport Edition, which isn’t worth the extra money in our view.
What is the Mercedes A-Class like to drive?
The ride is on the firm side, as you'd expect from a luxury German brand, but it's not uncomfortable, and the suspension deals well with bad roads. If you go for one of the higher-end models, the optional selective damping will help to make the ride more comfortable.
The seats are comfy, and you'll be able to find a good driving position, which will help on longer journeys. The A-Class is happy cruising along the motorway, but there is quite a bit of wind and road noise, so you might need to turn up Peppa Pig's greatest hits to drown that out.
However, the A-Class has lots of grip, good body control, and the car reacts quickly to steering inputs.
Running costs and reliability
There's a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, from a 1.5-litre diesel with 90 horsepower, to a 380 horsepower A45 AMG hot hatch, which will either thrill or terrify the kids.
The A-Class has very good residual values, so when you come to sell the car on, you should get a decent amount of the purchase price back. This also helps to keep monthly costs down if you are buying on finance, so you can get an A-Class for a little more than £300 a month on a PCP deal.
The A-Class is also competitive with its rivals on CO2 emissions and average fuel economy, with some models emitting less than 100g/km of CO2.
What are the safety features like?
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class scored the maximum five-star rating from safety organisation Euro NCAP’s crash tests, including an 81% child occupant protection score. Standard safety features include stability control, a driver-fatigue sensor that will warn you if you’re getting sleepy and need a break, a pop-up bonnet to help protect pedestrians if you do hit anyone, and a collision prevention system that warns you if the car in front is too close or slowing rapidly. It can also activate the brakes to help avoid a crash.
Model: Mercedes A-Class A 180 SE
Number of Isofix points? Two
Room for three car seats? No
Price: from £25,800
How we test
Teaming up with Auto Trader, we surveyed over 10,000 drivers to discover which cars really offer value for families. After crunching the data we put the top three family cars through their paces to find out which new car is bestRead more »