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Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Saloon cars seemed to be fading away with the ever-growing demand for more practical hatchbacks and compact SUVs, but there has been a bit of a revival lately and the Mercedes A-Class is a perfect example of how much fun a saloon can be.

By Maxine Ashford
Dec 17, 2019
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From £27,155
Pros:
  • Beautifully styled with dynamic lines and a premium interior
  • Features all the latest kit including the MBUX infotainment set-up
  • Boasts driving dynamics that match its athletic styling
Cons:
  • Rear leg and headroom is limited
  • Pricey when options are introduced
  • Boot space is less than some rivals

Introduction

Almost every Mercedes A-Class you see on the roads these days is in hatchback styling. But there is a four-door saloon model out there and it’s certainly worth investigating.

For starters, it looks more dynamic in its styling than the five-door hatch, and after extensive testing in the company’s wind tunnel, the A-Class Saloon gains bragging rights to having the lowest aerodynamic drag of any production vehicle worldwide.

It is available in a range of trims with a comprehensive choice of petrol or diesel engines. It also boasts one of the finest interior designs along with all the latest kit to keep the fussiest of techno-geeks smiling.

On The Road

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Performance

The Mercedes A-Class Saloon is available in a variety of well-equipped trim levels called Sport, Sport Executive, AMG Line, AMG Line Executive, AMG Line Premium, AMG Line Premium Plus and Mercedes-AMG and customers can choose from a range of punchy yet efficient diesel and petrol engines.

We opted for the A 220 4MATIC AMG Line powered by a 2.0-litre 190hp petrol engine with 300Nm of torque. This car could sprint from 0-62mph in 7.0 seconds and had a maximum speed of 147mph.

Although it may not be quite such a power-house as some rivals, the A-Class Saloon is certainly no slouch with rapid-fire acceleration through the perfectly-timed seven-speed automatic gearbox, with steering wheel-mounted paddles for extra fun.

Drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual alter the manner in which the car responds with the Sport setting delivering sharper reactions.

With assured road-holding, this is a car that can be pushed into long sweeping bends with confidence and it is also nicely nimble around town as it weaves through the traffic. Another positive is the flat-bottomed steering wheel, which offers ample driver feedback and is perfectly weighted.

Our car also featured Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system for added reassurance and grip in poorer driving conditions.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Ride Handling

Comfort is an area where this latest A-Class Saloon really excels with relatively soft suspension. This means if you do hit an unexpected bump or dip in the road, the jolt through the cabin is well-cushioned - drive some rival performance models and you will need a chiropractor on speed dial!

Our car was sitting on 18-inch wheels which seemed to suit the vehicle. It felt relaxed on motorways but could be pushed along country lanes at quite a click without any body sway or loss of grip.

There are two types of suspension available dependant upon the model. The front axle features a McPherson design. However, the more powerful versions and models with 4MATIC, adaptive damping or larger wheels are fitted with a complex four-link rear axle - that’s what our car had and it was very effective.

And, according to Mercedes, the A-Class Saloon has the lowest aerodynamic drag of any production model globally, so that not only assists with the handling, it also means better fuel efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Refinement

There’s no denying the fact that the Mercedes A-Class Saloon is a great looking vehicle with its sporty curves and dynamic styling. Eye-catching design features include a low stretched bonnet, short overhangs, slim headlamps with chrome element, torch-like daytime running lights, a single louvre diamond radiator grille with chrome pins and the Mercedes star, plus 16 to 19-inch wheels. AMG body styling, such as an AMG front apron with front splitter in chrome, along with side sill panels, rear apron and visible exhaust pipes add to the car’s muscular appeal.

Move inside and the interior is elegantly laid out and possibly one of the smartest cabins on the market today. The leather sports seats are exceptionally supportive and comfortable and you will find yourself surrounded by the finest materials money can buy. There is a multifunction flat-bottomed sports steering wheel finished in perforated fine Nappa leather, 64-colour ambient lighting, a piano black and perforated leather soft-touch dashboard, air vents that resemble aircraft engines and lots of contrast stitching and chrome trimmings.

An optional Premium Plus package, costing £3,595 on our test car, added electrically-adjustable front memory seats, Multi-beam LEDs including Ultra-range high plus beam with 650m range and a panoramic sunroof with auto rain-sensor closing function.

Driver refinement is impressive too with barely a sound from the engine or road surface filtering through into the cabin.

In The Car

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Behind the Wheel

The sports seats on the A-Class Saloon can be power adjusted via control buttons located on the doors and the steering wheel is also fully adjustable so finding the perfect driving position takes a matter of seconds. Take a moment to look around and it’s identical to the hatchback with an ultra-modern layout and one of the smartest interiors in the business.

Long gone is the traditional instrument binnacle and in its place are digital screens with twin displays. They are seven inches wide as standard but can be upgraded to 10.25 inches for the complete widescreen effect behind a smart glass fascia.

The left screen is where all the car’s infotainment systems can be found and the right screen offers all the vital readouts such as the speedo, rev counter and fuel gauge stats.

The launch of the fourth generation A-Class in 2018 saw the arrival of the all-new Mercedes MBUX multi-media system which replaced the outgoing COMAND set-up. This introduced the voice-controlled ‘Hey Mercedes’ function. It is a fabulous feature that, thanks to artificial intelligence, recognises and understands nearly all sentences from the fields of entertainment and vehicle operation.

You simply mention ‘Hey Mercedes’ to bring the system into life and fire away with your questions. You can request restaurant recommendations for a certain area, or ask for the temperature to be increased with extra air flow to be directed to the windscreen etc. On the downside, it cannot be disabled so be wary of saying the word ‘Mercedes if you haven’t got a question to ask.

The arrival of the latest models also saw the demise of the old rotary dial to access and control the many on-board systems. There is now a new touchpad and controller, steering wheel touch pads or voice recognition.

It’s quite a lot to take in, but all works very smoothly after you master things.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Space & Practicality

Four-door saloon cars were overtaken in the popularity stakes because the likes of hatchbacks and, these days, compact SUVs are so much more practical. However, there seems to have been a revival in their popularity recently and the A-Class saloon joins its similarly-styled siblings, the Mercedes C, E and S Classes.

With a length of 4,540mm, width of 1,796mm and height of 1,446mm, the A-Class Saloon has bags of room up front, but any passengers relegated to the back seats will find the amount of leg space quite restricted if the front seats are pushed well back.

The boot can hold 420 litres of kit, which is a lot more than the 341-litre capacity of the hatchback models, but the boot opening is smaller so not quite as practical for loading goods.

There are a number of handy compartments throughout the car, including a lockable glovebox, a cubby box beneath the central armrest, front cup holders, a wireless charging pad, nets in the seatbacks and door bins with room for a water bottle. There are narrower door pockets in the rear along with two additional cup holders in the fold-down armrest.

Ownership

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Running Costs

The Mercedes A-Class saloon line-up is extensive with prices ranging from £27,155 for the A 180d Sport version to £44,615 for the Mercedes-AMG A 35 4MATIC Premium Plus model. And as is the norm with all premium carmakers, optional extras can be added at a cost.

Our test car was initially priced at £32,060, but the addition of a Premium Plus package, Driving Assistance package, Advanced Navigation package and some more upmarket aluminium trim saw the final cost reach £37,965.

The official combined fuel economy figure is from 36.2 to 40.9mpg depending on options fitted with carbon emissions of 148g/km. This CO2 figure would result in a first-year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £210 reducing to the standard fee of £145 after 12 months.

Although our test car fell beneath the £40k threshold, it’s worth checking the final cost of your vehicle before adding too many options as under the recent restructuring of the tax system, owners of cars with a list price topping £40,000 pay a £320 supplement for five years. After five years, the vehicle is taxed at the standard rate.

The insurance group rating for the test car is 28.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Quality & Reliability

Mercedes seems to have mixed blessings when it comes to reliability surveys with some models finishing high in the ratings and other plummeting to the lower depths of the scale. Although it is a little too early to predict how well the new saloon will perform, it looks and feels like it has been designed with longevity in mind.

There is a lot of new technology included, such as the MBUX multi-media set-up, infotainment screens, switches and touchpads. It all works very well but only time will tell how it will fare a few years down the line.

As the many onboard functions can be accessed via touchpads or the virtual assistant, the screens will remain clean from mucky fingerprints which is a plus point. In addition, all the switch gear feels sturdy in its design as do the upholstered seats.

For peace of mind, the car comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty. Also included as standard is four years of Mercedes Mobile Roadside assistance across Europe.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon 4MATIC AMG Review

Safety & Security

The A-Class is the first Mercedes to have been engineered at the new Technology Centre for Vehicle Safety which uses findings from research into real accidents when developing its cars. Thanks to a highly rigid passenger compartment comprising ultra-high-strength steel, occupants are well protected in frontal, side or rear-end collisions.

The car was awarded the maximum five stars when it was tested by Euro NCAP for its safety rating.

There is an extensive list of safety kit and the new A-Class is also equipped with expanded Active Brake Assist as standard. Depending on the situation, it can effectively help to reduce the severity of collisions with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles ahead, and even with crossing pedestrians and cyclists. In many cases it can prevent an accident from happening altogether.

Our car also boasted a Driving Assistance package costing an extra £1,695 that added active blind spot assist, active braking assist with cross-traffic function and active emergency stop assist.

This optional pack includes Pre-Safe Plus which can rather cleverly recognise an imminent rear-end collision. If the danger persists, the system firmly applies the brakes of your stationary vehicle, thus minimising the risk of injuries by reducing the forward jolt caused by a rear-end impact.

The car is fitted with a Thatcham Category 1 alarm and immobiliser.

More On This Car
Take one for a spin or order a brochure
Request a MERCEDES-BENZ A CLASS brochure
Request a MERCEDES-BENZ A CLASS test drive
By Maxine Ashford
Dec 17, 2019