First Drive: Mercedes A180d

First Drive: Mercedes A180d

What is it?

Premium hatchbacks have fast become one of the most popular segments on the market, with three clear leaders – the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes A-Class. Despite this, they’ve all remained relatively unchanged for quite a few years now, but Mercedes has been the first to pull the trigger on the new generation.

What’s new?

Although this is still instantly recognisable as an A-Class, there’s plenty of new tech and engineering. The biggest selling point is a new infotainment system, dubbed MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). There’s semi-autonomous technology and a range of new engines — two petrol and one diesel.

What’s under the bonnet?

Powering our test car is a new 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel engine paired with a seven-speed automatic dual-clutch gearbox. It’s not the most powerful of units, but it’s brisk enough for daily usage and feels refined.

What’s it like to drive?

The Mercedes A-Class delivers a no-frills driving experience, going about its business in a muted but capable manner. If you want to drive enthusiastically the car will allow you to do so, but it won’t be that much fun – it’s much better suited to long-distance cruising.

How does it look?

The A-Class is the latest Mercedes to take on the manufacturer’s more angular design language. It remains instantly recognisable as a member of the German firm’s hatchback model line, but the new look is effective in bringing it up to date.

What’s it like inside?

As you should expect with a car of this calibre, the A-Class is a luxurious and comfortable place to be. There are plenty of premium-feel materials throughout the cabin, such as synthetic leather upholstery, metal-effect trim pieces and a nappa leather steering wheel. Not only does it all feel good to the touch, but it’s solidly put together too.

What’s the spec like?

Our test car came in AMG Line trim, meaning standard equipment included 18-inch alloy wheels, AMG bodystyling, LED headlights, keyless start and the MBUX system displayed on a seven-inch touchscreen. Highlights on the options list include heated and ventilated seats, active parking assist and two 10.25-inch displays – one for the instrument cluster and another for the MBUX system.

What do we think?

The new Mercedes A-Class has set a benchmark for the next generation of premium hatchbacks, and one that may prove tough to beat for impending competitors.

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