Mercedes-Benz A-class review – performance and 0-60 time

Most models have competitive performance but no unit truly shines, and the 1.3-litre petrol is disappointingly harsh. AMGs are more rapid

Evo rating
Price
from £22,195
  • Class-leading tech, luxurious interior, rapid A35
  • Poor ride, some unimpressive engines

With six four-cylinder power units, plus a plug-in hybrid, and two gearboxes to choose from it takes a little while to work out the A-Class performance hierarchy.

AMGs top the list, with the A35 and A45 both pairing (different) 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engines with all-wheel drive and eight-speed dual-clutch transmissions. The A35's 0-62mph is taken care of in 4.7 seconds and comes with an electronically-limited top speed of 155mph, while the A45 will do the same in just 3.9sec.  Next up is the 2-litre A250e plug-in, capable of sprinting to 62mph in a brisk 6.6 seconds and reaching the same restricted 155mph.

Moving down the range, the A200 and A180 petrols pair a 1.3-litre four with a seven-speed dual-clutch, both crack 62mph in well under 10 seconds and will happily push past 130mph. Slowest of the bunch is the diesel powered A180d that needs 10.5sec to get to 62mph and will top out at 125mph. The A200d uses the same 2.0-litre diesel, and will post an 8.1sec 0-62mph time.

Initial impressions are good, with all units feeling quiet and vibration-free at idle. All engines also feel quite responsive to initial throttle inputs even in Comfort mode, but only the AMGs continue to leap forward as you sink the pedal further. The A180d and A200 petrol we've tried provide extra noise but limited thrust. The diesel may actually be the preferable of the pair, as while it’s slower than the petrol, its low-down torque characteristics mean you don’t need to work it as hard in typical driving.

Given the A200’s harshness and the A180d’s relative smoothness, we’d say the diesel is the pick of the smaller units. 

The A250e isn't exactly bustling with character. It’s smoother than its smaller petrol sibling and doesn’t need stoking as much to get you down the road, but it’s still a relatively joyless thing to drive and the DCT ‘box makes a meal of quick getaways, without the reward of a truly snappy change when you’re selecting manually with the steering wheel-mounted paddles.

You probably won’t feel compelled to switch to Sport mode very often either, which drops a couple of ratios and makes the initial throttle response overly sensitive - Comfort mode is best, using the paddles to change gear manually when required. Ultimately though the new A-class isn’t yet a car that goads you into a more lively driving style - it’s at its best simply cruising along quietly with everything set to auto.

In most scenarios the DCT is quick and slick enough, but it can be wrong-footed by an unexpected downchange request, while hurried getaways at junctions and roundabouts can result in an uncomfortable lurching as the gearbox fails to keep up with the demands of your right foot. Unlike the other models however, Sport+ mode is preferable here, ideally with the transmission in manual mode. Configured such, you can keep up good pace without slovenly eco-biased gearchanges or needless revs, and enjoy the occasional barrage of pops and crackles.

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