While revolutionary in many respects, the original Mercedes-Benz A-Class of 1997 was not a car that was about to draw younger buyers towards the German marque. Indeed, it wasn’t until the introduction of the third-generation A-Class in 2012 that sales figures really began to soar thanks to a combination of that car’s more conventional design appealing to a wider audience, and the increasing popularity of affordable finance deals.
Now, after six years on sale the third-generation A-Class has been replaced by an all-new model – and Mercedes has not held back. Indeed, in terms of interior design and functionality the new A-Class is one of the most technologically advanced cars on sale and is thus sure to be a hit. That’s not only as a new purchase either, but also as a used one, and with the first pre-owned examples just arriving in dealerships now is the perfect chance to find out why.
In time the Mercedes-Benz A-Class will be offered with a wide range of engines, but to begin with the choice is limited to a 1.5-litre diesel unit, and a couple of petrols. The former is called the A 180 d and, despite a modest sounding 114bhp, actually feels strong and very smooth; it suits the A-Class brilliantly.
The entry-level petrol engine also punches well above its weight, for despite being just 1.3 litres in capacity it produces between 134- and 161bhp depending whether you opt for an A 180 or A 200. At the top of the range for now is the A 250 with its 247bhp 2.0-litre turbo, which delivers predictably rapid performance and is also the only A-Class for now that is available with four-wheel drive in addition to the standard front-wheel-drive layout.
On the move the A-Class is generally quiet and comfortable, particularly so if you opt for an A 200 or A 250, which feature a more advanced rear suspension setup than the cheaper models. The steering doesn’t offer enough in the way of feedback to make the A-Class feel truly sporty, but it still responds quickly to the driver’s command and has plenty of grip.
Light controls, decent visibility, and the standard fitment of a reversing camera also ensure that all models are easy to park.
The driving experience, however, is probably not the number one reason for buying an A-Class over any of its rivals. Rather, that falls to the amount of technology in the car, particularly when it comes to the infotainment system.
Called MBUX (and making its debut in the A-Class before being rolled out across more expensive models in the Mercedes range), the setup comprises two TFT screens, one for the instruments and dials, and the other for functions such as sat-nav, media and connectivity. As standard both screens measure a respectable 7 inches, but if you can find a car where either one or both screens have been upgraded to 10.25 inches then it’s well worth considering. Because it is in this configuration that the A-Class is at its most impressive, with a level of personalisation and processing power than leaves others looking decidedly old fashioned.
It’s not only that the system looks impressive either, but also that it’s generally intuitive to use, with a range of control options that even includes natural speech recognition. Simply say “Hey, Mercedes,” and you can engage the car in conversation. Spooky.
WHY BUY A USED MERCEDES-BENZ A-CLASS?
The simple answer as to why you’d buy a second-hand A-Class, as tends to be the case when any brand-new model first hits the used car market, is because you can have it without waiting. Admittedly, that also means forgoing the ability to specify the car to your precise requirements, but with a decent selection already listed by dealers via CarGurus it shouldn’t take long to find an example that appeals.
Being so new the cars currently offered will tend to be ex-dealer demonstrators with just a few hundred miles on the clock. With dealers keen to show off the car in its best light, this will also mean many of the used models currently offered will be in one of the higher trim levels such as Sport or AMG Line. Plus, they are more likely than not to feature plenty of optional extras, including that upgraded infotainment system.
As to whether all this makes a nearly new A-Class good value, that’s where CarGurus comes in, with our Instant Market Value and Deal Ratings tools instantly showing how the price of a car compares with similar models listed for sale. Along with dealer ratings it’s all part of the CarGurus mission to build the world’s most trusted and transparent automotive marketplace. So, if you fancy taking a closer look at a used example of the best A-Class to date, you know where to start.
Search for a used Mercedes-Benz A-Class on CarGurus.
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