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Mercedes-Benz A-Class

7/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review:Mercedes-Benz A-Class

£20,500£43,215

Driving

What is it like on the road?

The A250’s engine is lively and capable, making a stout 224bhp, albeit it has to shove along 1,455kg. It’s also reasonably refined and willing to dawdle or to rev.

The news is less good with the A200. Despite the modern technologies it adopts, this one has flat-spots in its delivery (that’s at full throttle so unlikely to stem from the cylinder deactivation mechanism), is boomy around 4,000rpm and thrashy above 5,000. It’s supposed to be an eight-second car from 0-62mph, but doesn’t feel it. Still, it’s refined and smooth in gentle suburban running.

The A180d is quiet for a diesel, but painfully slow for open-road overtaking.

Ah well, in all cases the 7-speed DCT autos do a smooth and attentive job.

In its cornering and ride, it feels like a proper Mercedes – plush in its movements, solid, comfortable and trustworthy.

First to the bends. It sails smoothly around, generally behaving proportionally to inputs and keeping faith with the curve. But there’s not a whole lot of interaction or communication. Mind you, at times we found the active lane assist getting bolshie as we grazed the line gently in bends, making the helm feel distinctly inconsistent. Fortunately there’s a screen shortcut (though not quite a single button-press) to inhibit it.

On motorways it cruises solidly, happy to munch miles with little tiring road vibration or tyre roar. And on any kind of road at pretty much any speed there’s a welcome suppleness to the springing. It’s not trying to be sporty, and in these low-powered versions it’s the better for that.

Worth noting, the smallest-wheel lowest-power spec comes with a torsion-beam instead of the multi link rear suspension used by the cars we tested. It’s cheaper than the multi-link, and a scant 6kg lighter, but the real reason it’s been designed is to save space and make room for future plug-in versions’ batteries. The engineers promise it doesn’t degrade the dynamics… much.

The A-Class clearly has the potential to be more perky. We tried a German-spec A250 with the optional adaptive dampers that aren’t available in the UK. It had a welcome sharpness in bends while maintaining reasonable urban suppleness.

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

8/10

Volkswagen Golf

£17,570£34,340
Mercedes is also aiming at the heart of VW Golf with the A-Class: it is a formidable alternative
Continue: On the inside
Back to: Overview

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