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First Drive

First Drive: Mercedes A-Class Saloon

The story: Mercedes-Benz believes there’s an additional niche to be filled in its small car line-up, so has introduced its first saloon version of the A-Class
Category:Premium Lower Medium
Key rival:Audi A3 Saloon
Efficiency:40.9 mpg
On sale:Now

The range expansion at Mercedes-Benz has now taken the baby of the line-up into new territory, with the arrival of the A-Class saloon, the first time the German premium brand has offered a booted version of a hatchback that’s now into its fourth generation.

It’s something of a niche area in the UK, with only the Audi A3 saloon and Mazda’s 3 saloon being comparable models, as well
as Merc’s own pricier CLA four-door coupe sibling.

The saloon is slightly more expensive than the A-Class hatchback, although the difference is within three figures rather than in the thousands. In addition, the saloon’s better aerodynamic qualities – Mercedes claims it has the lowest aerodynamic drag of all vehicles in production – and slightly better residual values, according to cost expert Kee Resources, pull the costs equation back to within a few tenths of a penny in favour of the hatch. Certainly not enough to break the case for the saloon.First Drive-March 2020-Mercedes A-Class Saloon-Image 6

It is less practical in some ways, despite the 420-litre boot being 50 litres larger than that of the hatch, thanks to the extended metal around the rear. The saloon is 130mm longer than the 5dr, but obviously misses out on the rear hatch that eases the loading of larger items into the boot, rather than the saloon’s narrower opening. That said, it does look like a larger and more premium model as a result of that elegant rear end.

The difference on the road is negligible, although first thing in the morning the lack of a rear wiper doesn’t go unnoticed. The longer car also feels like it should be more practical as a result, but the cabin is no larger, so compact for those in the rear.

The A-Class saloon currently comes with a range of three diesel and four petrol engines, with a plug-in hybrid version being added in the first half of this year, dropping emissions to 31g/km versus the current range low of 100g/km for the A180d auto.

paul barker

The verdict

Niche addition that has almost the same whole-life cost as the hatch and which is marginally more efficient. It’s also less practical, however.