When Mercedes-Benz launched the A-Class in 1997 it was a stubby little car deliberately made to be shorter than any conventional four-door car. It wasn’t a success in Australia, nor did it work as well on the European market as anticipated.
The third generation A-Class, sold here from March 2013, is larger and far more conventional in its style and is the one being surveyed here.
Its style moved from being quirky and cute to the high fashion you would expect from a Merc. It has a bold front that, without too much imagination, carried styling cues to the high-performance SLS Gullwing and Roadster.
Fascinatingly, Mercedes chose the A-Class gen-three to do a toe-in-the-water exercise for infotainment systems, with the 2013 A-Class being described at the time as being, “almost an iPhone on wheels”.
It had many high-tech features before the bigger Benz models got them as Mercedes felt that owners of larger Mercs were reluctant to adopt ‘fancy new stuff’. The idea was that younger owners of the A-Class would talk to their parents and older friends about the technology and how to use it.
In January 2016 the A-Class received a facelift and tail-tuck, as well as additional technology, with all versions now having adaptive suspension and satellite navigation.
Power for the standard models in the A-Class is by turbo-petrol and turbo-diesel engines in various capacities and power outputs. Note that the numbers like A180, A200 and A250 don’t indicate the engine size as used to be the case.
The hot Mercedes-AMG A45 with a pumped up 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine to compete with the hot machines from rivals Audi and BMW. The AMG uses the company’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system to maximise grip when pushed hard.
Mercedes-Benz has been a major player in Australia for many decades. The dealerships are well set up we have heard very few complaints about availability of parts.
An A-Class with a full service record from a Mercedes dealer will probably be more expensive but it makes a lot of sense.
Some factory trained Mercedes mechanics have left the company and set up private workshops. We’ve heard good reports on them, but ask around owners in your neighbourhood for their opinions on them.
Insurance charges are a little higher than average for a car in this price range, but not seriously so.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
If there’s the slightest doubt about the mechanical condition be sure to get a quote for repairs. These may be small cars but they’re in the prestige class for the price of repairs.
Make sure the engine starts easily and is reasonably smooth in operation. Any hesitation to your use of the accelerator is a cause for concern.
Make sure the services have been done by the date recommended or distance travelled – whichever comes first.
Look for signs of body repairs work. Ripples in the panels, most easily spotted by looking at them end on; also check for tiny spots of paint on non-painted surfaces; colours that don’t match exactly from panel to panel.
Uneven front tyre wear could either mean the suspension has been bent against a kerb, or the car has been driven hard – or both.
Have a look in the boot and its surrounds in case it has been used to cart bulky loads.
Check the tailgate isn’t sticky in its operation and that it remains up until you lower it, otherwise a rap on your noggin could be painful.
Expect to pay from $11,000 to $17,000 for a 2013 Mercedes-Benz A180; $15,000 to $22,000 for a 2013 A250 Sport or a 2016 A180; $16,000 to $23,000 for a 2014 A200; $20,000 to $28,000 for a 2015 A250 Sport; $25,000 to $34,000 for a 2018 A180; $29,000 to $40,000 for a 2018 A250 Sport; $31,000 to $43,000 for a 2016 AMG A45; and $54,000 to $71,000 for a 2019 AMG A45.
CAR BUYING TIP
Any car with big kilometres on the dial may have been a rental at some time in its life, but may also have been owned by someone living in the country.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/