The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the cheapest brand new car you can buy from the German brand. The recent introduction of entry-level luxury sedans shows the importance of early brand loyalty. To target sedan buyers, Mercedes-Benz priced the A-Class to compete with fully-loaded versions of best-selling models such as the Camry and the Accord. Despite this, a recent test from Consumer Reports ranked the A-Class as the worst model in its segment. Significant faults such as rough ride quality, a sluggish engine, and a weak A/C system contributed significantly to the low score.
The A-Class looks like a Mercedes but doesn’t drive like one
One of the significant components of the Consumer Reports ranking system is the road test. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class showed good agility in the handling portion, exhibiting little body roll through corners. While the A-Class’ handling showed promise, the overall ride quality suffered due to the stiff suspension setup. The test noted that even small imperfections on the road translated to immediate discomforts in the cabin. As a result, the plush suspension commonly associated with other Mercedes models is not present in the A-Class.
Consumer Reports noted that front-seat comfort was excellent thanks to the comfortable seats and available head-room. However, the rear seats are mounted very close to the floor, resulting in passengers sitting with their knees up high. Thanks to the slope toward the rear end of the A-Class, the back-seat headroom is also very limited.
The engine powering the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is sluggish off the line
Under the hood of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class lives a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine producing 188 hp. Front-wheel drive comes as standard, but an optional all-wheel-drive system is available. While the powerplant is by no means underpowered, excessive turbo lag when accelerating from a standstill makes it feel sluggish.
Consumer Reports noted that the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission combined with a slow throttle response accentuates the hesitation off the line. A natural reaction to correct turbo lag would be to downshift into a lower gear and raise the revs. Downshifts took longer than expected, even during enthusiastic driving. The combination of rough ride quality and a sluggish engine response means that the Mercedes A-Class doesn’t justify its high starting price.
The entry-level Mercedes-Benz sedan is still expensive
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class has a starting price of $33,650 without optional extras. The base A-Class with all-wheel drive requires an additional $2,000 before options. The optional AMG Line pack that gives the A-Class a sporty look costs $3,000. A fully-loaded A-Class sits right below the $50,000 mark, making it far from affordable. Desirable options such as the digital instrument cluster require expensive add-ons such as the Premium Package for $1,750.
Despite the high price with options, Consumer Reports noted that essential components such as the A/C system were not up to standard, struggling on hot days. All of the significant flaws pointed out by the road test seem to revolve an overall lack of refinement. Cost-cutting to enter a new segment of the market is not always negative. However, in situations where the overall quality of the experience suffers, buyers are more likely to look elsewhere for better value.