2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon Review

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2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon exterior

Mercedes has revolutionised its smallest, entry-level A-Class range with a futuristic cockpit which is leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors.

On the outside, everything you see is a sure sign of the luxury which awaits you when you get in. Well, almost everything – the dreaded fake exhausts on the back may dampen your spirit a little.

It should be noted that the new sharp LED headlights come with the option to have a multi-beam function. They adapt to changes in conditions on the road, such as automatically dipping the lights when another car’s lights are sensed. This forms part of the Premium Pack, which is a hefty £2,395 extra, but upgrades your A-Class from the outside in.

 

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“The new ironed-out body of the latest A-Class looks marvellous, with sleeker LED headlights and a new grille adding an aggressive, sporty feel to this compact champ.”

Cameron Hale, Moneyshake Car Reviewer

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon interior

2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon infotainment and tech

As soon as you step into the new A-Class Saloon, the first thing you’ll notice is the stunning dual-screen digital infotainment system, smartly arranged along the top of the dash. All standard models get a 7.0in display. It’s not too high set too, meaning your vision isn’t impaired.

If you were to opt for the finishing gold-dust touches to your A-Class, then the Executive Package boosts the screens to a 10.3in display. This optimises the clarity of it more than anything. On top of just a bigger media system, the package adds tech-savvy driving equipment that includes front and rear parking sensors, plus heated front seats.

Mercedes has also completely renewed the air vents in the car, with new turbine-looking outlets which make the old A-Class and even competitors such as the Volkswagen Golf look quite prehistoric in comparison.

What about the practicality of the this car’s interior? Well, compared with the A-Class hatch, the Saloon is 130mm longer. For this reason, those sat in the back get more leg room to make use of. However, you should be aware that there’s slightly less head room than in the hatchback because the roofline slopes more than it does in the hatch.

All in all, space for passengers has remarkably improved since the old A-Class. No doubt this is due to the car being wider and bigger than older versions.

One issue is the small windows in the back, which make it a little darker with less visibility than one might like, though a small compromise which can be overlooked when you consider the vehicle’s overall class.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon infotainment and tech

2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon interior

It’s a blessing that Mercedes debuted its MBUX system in its entry-level range because the A-Class was one of the first models to reap the full rewards. Infotainment is an area where the A-Class also excels compared to rivals and there’s a good reason why when you consider its quality.

First of all, there are seemingly endless ways to control the unit, whether it be through a touchscreen, a touchpad between the front seats or a secondary touchpad on the steering wheel. Among the most convenient ways to navigate your A-Class Saloon’s media system is a responsive voice assistant that wakes up when you say “Hey, Mercedes”. Because of its ability to detect natural voice, you can now talk to your car without having to aggressively mimic the robotic tone of the system.

The standard SE model comes loaded with a lot of handy convenient driving tech, including:

 
  • A 180-degree rear view camera with guidelines for parking
  • Mercedes me connect with emergency call system, accident recovery, maintenance and breakdown management
  • ECO start/stop function
  • Attention Assist (monitors your driving and makes adjustments to ensure your safety)
  • Service indicator (Active Service System)
 

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Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon practicality

2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon back seats

40/20/40 split-folding rear seats make loading your A-Class Saloon incredibly versatile and easy. Want to put longer items in there? No problem. Just drop the middle seat and you can feed it through into the car’s passenger space. Likewise, if you want to fold either of the other two seats. Practicality and flexibility in one!

Stowage compartments in the front of the A-Class Saloon are plentiful too. A big central storage bin at the front of the car is useful for all sorts – by this we mean the liquorice and other bits you may take on your travels.

Both doors in the front have a bin big enough for large bottles of water. And you even have a neat holder which will hold your phone to keep it out of sight and out of mind while you’re at the wheel.

The boot of this compact car had a couple of bugbears that have since been improved on. Not only is the opening wider, but the capacity is also a sizeable 50 litres bigger than the hatchback.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon drive

2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon on the road

On the road, the new A-Class is on a par with the bigger, ‘superior’ E-Class and S-Class – smoothing over bad road surfaces surprisingly well for a compact car. No doubt this is thanks to the lowered comfort suspension available in all models. There’s even a Dynamic Select driving mode selector which offers a range of settings that suit different situations – ECO, Comfort, Sport and Individual – which make it easier to get the right setup while you’re on the move.

There are a range of engines available for the new A-Class. They include a 1.3-litre turbo petrol, a properly quick 2.0-litre turbo petrol (available on top-spec Exclusive Edition Pro models, plus two versions of a more efficient turbo diesel in different power outputs.

If you don’t clock as many miles on your car, the standard 1.3-litre turbo petrol is probably the best option. This is because it has enough acceleration to be good outside of town (0-60mph takes 9.2 seconds), while filling up doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, with a combined fuel economy of 48mpg.

AMG Line models should be your go-to if you want great performance and savviest running costs. That’s because they are available with the option of a plug-in hybrid engine, badged ‘A250e’. With a 0-62mph time of just 6.7 seconds, a 282.5mpg combined fuel economy and low emissions (22g/km) it’s a great company car option if you want low company BiK tax (Benefit in Kind).

The A-Class is available as a seven-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. A tough decision considering its smooth ride experience and small dimensions. You’ll get around 3mpg more, according to Mercedes, with the automatic gearbox, but there’s more of a feeling of being ‘at one’ when you’re able to shift up and down at liberty.

If you want an automatic gearbox that makes a habit of finding the right gear more often, take a look at the BMW 1 Series. Coupled with quicker steering, BMW‘s rival to the A-Class is certainly a better alternative for driver-centric car buyers.

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