Robert Pepper’s 2016 Mercedes-Benz A180 review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.

In a nutshell: The A180 might be the smallest and cheapest Mercedes-Benz, but it’s definitely a medium-sized city hatch aimed at the upper end of the market.

2016 Mercedes-Benz A180 

Price : from $37,200 (plus ORC); Warranty : three-year, unlimited kilometres; Safety : five-star ANCAP 2016 (35.8 / 37); Engine : 1.6L 4-cyl 90kW @ 5000rpm, 200Nm @ 1250-4000rpm Transmission : seven-speed DCT automatic; front wheel drive; Body : 4299mm (L); 1780mm (W); 1433mm (H); wheelbase 2699mm; Turning Circle : 11.0m;  0-100: approx. 8.6 seconds; Top Speed : 202km/h; Seats : 5; Tare Weight : 1395kg (unladen); Towing : 695kg unbraked, 1200kg braked; Fuel Tank : 50 litres; Spare : none; Thirst : 5.8L/100km ADR81/02 combined cycle; Fuel : petrol (95 RON)


THE A-CLASS is the entry into the smallest Mercedes-Benz range, and the A180 is the cheapest A-class. But this is Mercedes-Benz, so ‘entry level’ doesn’t mean basic. If we start with the looks then the Mercedes is different to the mainstream; just look at that front end. There’s also something about saying you drive a Mercedes that gives an impression different to saying you drive a Hyundai or Toyota. 


This is the third-generation A-Class, introduced in 2012 as the W176 model, and it’s ditched the boxy, upright mini-SUV design of the previous two versions for this far more svelte look. Boxiness is now left to the B-Class.


We have reviewed the top-of-the-range AMG A45 here, and much of that review is applicable to the smaller car.

Room & Practicality

As you would imagine, the interior of the A180 does not approach the beauty of the AMG, but it’s pleasantly stylish and nicely functional. All four windows are one-touch up and down, all the controls are sensibly laid out, and there’s no major problems with usability except for the cruise controls being hidden from view.
The front seats are manual, and semi-sports. There is a good range of adjustment, and they look stylish too. There is a 12v socket up front and two USB ports in the centre console which features a sliding lid. The A180 has a push-button start, but lacks keyless entry, an odd omission given the price and a feature it really should offer as keyless is very convenient for a city car. The door pockets have felt in the bottom to deaden the sound of things like keys and help stop them sliding around.
In the second row we find something very welcome and very unusual – a 12v socket in the back, which will be to the delight of all smartphone-toting teenagers. There’s three sensibly positioned child restraints and ISOFIX restraints on the outboard seats.
The second row splits 40:60 and folds forwards. The head rests are fixed in position which could be an issue with some types of child booster seats.
The boot has a light at the side and there’s one on the underside of the tailgate, too. There are a couple of useful nets to tie things down. You can see here how well the child restraints are positioned.
There’s no spare tyre, but you can use the space where it should be for storage.

After living with the car for a week the summary is that there’s no annoyances, plenty of usable features but it’s not top of the line practical with any features that are outstandingly clever.

On the inside

Not exactly over-featured, but classy. A bit more colour wouldn’t go amiss though.
The infotainment screen is, happily, not a touchsreen but controlled easily by a dial and a couple of buttons. The climate control is not split, but easily operated with dials. There are plenty of quick-to-operate buttons.
There is a central display on the dash which to some extent is integrated with the infotainment unit. Unlike the AMG, the speedo is very clearly laid out and it’s easy to see what speed you’re doing. You can also call up a digital speedo if you wish.
The owner’s manual is part paper, part electronic. Here’s the electronic version:
The overall impression of the A180 is that it’s definitely the product of a premium manufacturer, yet, at the same time, still just an entry level model. It makes an interesting contrast with higher-spec models from other manufacturers which have more features, but less cohesion and style.

Performance, Ride and Handling

The A180 is, like virtually all modern cars, an easy drive. It is smoother and more refined than many of its competitors; the gearchanges are seamless, power is smooth and the handling is neutral.

The experience is marred only by the steering which is over-assisted at times, deadening the feel. Despite having a mere 90kW the A180 never feels slow (0-100 is 8.6 seconds) and it’s happy to cruise at, say, 50km/h almost at idle in the 6th of its 7th gears, giving the car an easy feeling of waftability, even though it’s no lightweight at nearly 1400kg unladen. The gearbox also subtly chooses and maintains gears appropriate for descents so there’s often barely any need to brake on hills, leading to a nice and relaxed drive.

Stalk-mounted gearshift lever.

The turning circle is acceptable but not impressive at 11m, but is mitigated by an excellent reversing camera with two views, and front/rear parking sensors with both lights and audio warnings. If you want the car to parallel-park itself it will do so, and that works effectively and intuitively. The eco/stop start (idle/stop start) isn’t too intrusive and doesn’t delay getaways, but people that don’t like it will still switch it off. The parkbrake is electronic, and disconnects automatically when you drive off and there’s hill start assist too.

The A180 is not the sports model in the range; look to the all-drive A250 and the AMG A45 for that – yet, steering aside, to some extent I prefer the lighter chuckability of the 180 over the AMG around town at slower speeds, and when slotted into sports mode there’s enough urge from the willing engine to move along quite nicely, and you need to work for your momentum. The engine is also quite immediately responsive, and there are paddle shifts if you really want to use them, but as ever with modern 7-speed DCT autos there’s no real need.
Fuel consumption is not impressive, despite a modern engine and gearbox. The official figure is 5.8L/100km, but we returned closer to 8L/100km, so range from the 50L tank is acceptable but not impressive.
Not that you’d look at such cars as towing machines, but it’s worth noting the A180 does quite well with a 1200kg braked and 695kg unbraked tow rating, and the roof can handle 100kg of load, including the roofrack.


The A180 rates a 5-star ANCAP rating (data supplied by EuroNCAP) with 35.8 out of 37. It has more than the basics for safety, offering an effective blind-spot system, probably the best reversing camera on the market with a sharp picture, two views and moveable guidelines.
The reversing camera is supplemented by parking sensors front and rear. Here’s the front one:
The car also will automatically shift into park if you accidentally open the driver’s door (see video here).  
There are a variety of safety aids, all in Mercedes-Benz style of CAPITALS. So here we have:
  • COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS – detects a potential collision, warns driver, supports emergency braking
  • PRE-SAFE – detects that you’re about to crash, tightens seatbelts, closes windows, does other things to prepare
  • ATTENTION ASSIST – driver drowsiness monitoring system
There is no spare tyre, sadly, but there is extra room in the boot under the floor as a result.

Pricing & Equipment

Here’s the specifications, highlighting what’s special about the A180 compared to the average car and then the differences to the rest of the range. Prices exclude on-road costs:
A180: $37,200
  • 1.6L 90kW 200Nm engine, 7-speed auto, front wheel drive, 5.8L/100km
  • Keyless start (not keyless entry)
  • Automatic parking (parallel only)
  • Reversing camera
  • Satnav
  • Blind spot assist
  • 17″ wheels
  • Idle stop/start
A200/A200 d, $42,800 / $43,300
  • A200: 1.6L 115kW 250Nm petrol engine, 7-speed auto, front wheel drive, 5.8L/100km
  • A200 d : 2.1L 100kW 300Nm diesel engine, 7-speed auto, front wheel drive, 4.2L/100km  
  • 18″ wheels
  • Electric fold-in mirrors
  • Two-pipe exhaust
A250 $53,500
  • 2.0L 160kW 350Nm engine, 7-speed auto, all wheel drive, 6.7L/100km
  • AMG bodykit
  • AMG adaptive suspension
  • LED headlamps
  • Keyless entry
  • Sunroof
  • Ambient lighting
AMG A45 $77,900
  • 2.0L 280kW 475Nm engine, 7-speed auto, all wheel drive, 7.3L/100km
  • AMG Dynamic Select driving modes
  • Ambient lighting
  • COMAND online Internet system
  • 19″ wheels
Not shown are some minor differences such as split climate control systems. The interesting point out of the spec list above is that the A200d is just $500 more expensive than the petrol version, which means that the A-Class diesel is one of the few small diesel cars that might make financial sense. The 200’s fuel consumption is 5.2, the diesel is 4.2 so if we add 20% and 22% to both figures for realism (diesels get closer to their ADR figure) we find that you’ll break even with the diesel after about 20,000 km which would be well within the lifecycle of the average owner.
As for value; the 200 really doesn’t offer much for its $5000 extra ask other than power you wouldn’t mind but probably could do without, particularly if you drive solo or two up most of the time, so value starts to be questionable. The A250 has to compete in a busy segment with the likes of the WRX STi, Focus ST, hot Meganes and the like – that would be an article in itself, and the AMG is a different matter entirely given its specifications and performance.

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