Pricey, but decently specced, we think.
Mercedes-Benz would have had a tough time selling its new entry-level A180 hatchback, the 5th such variant of the 5-door compact, had it not specced it generously. With prices starting at $42,300 when it lands in February, it’s some way off from being the cheapest premium hatch on the market, with every competitor comfortably undercutting it on price. However the kit list is surprisingly long on this one, easily negating the risk of feeling like an empty box on wheels like so many of its entry-level premium competitors.
For staters it’ll look the part, with 17-inch alloys and a chrome-studded grille, though early models will demand extra money for that (these items are standard from June onwards). It’ll also come with LED headlights (essential to not look like a cheapo) and LED taillights, ensuring that squinting will be necessary for onlookers to tell your car apart from an A200.
Further similarities with the A200 come in the form of the powertrain: This too is front-wheel drive and uses the same 1.3-litre blown 4-pot, though it’s been detuned to offer just 100kW and 200Nm. The 7-speed DCT also features here, helping aid fuel consumption to a miserly 5.7L/100km on the official testing cycle, though 100km/h can still be called upon in just 8.8-seconds.
Step inside and you’ll be greeted by the standard MBUX advanced infotainment system, displayed on a pair of 10.25-inch screens (with the central one featuring touch input). Sat-nav, digital radio, smartphone mirroring and keyless entry & go are all standard fare here too. Further enhancing desirability is the safety kit, which includes pre-collision warning, brake assist, traffic-sign recognition, blind-spot monitor with door opening warning (should you be about to open your door into an oncoming vehicle), lane-keep assist, and a backup camera. You also get sports seats up front wrapped in Artico faux leather which, as far as fake leather goes, is pretty nice.
The A180 will be joined by a front-wheel drive A250 next year, which will undercut the current A250 4Matic by some $700 (currently $49,500). There will be saloons & AMG models (in A35 and A45 guises) coming next year too, ensuring that there’s an A-Class for everyone. But does an A180 tempt one enough to forgo a specced-up Mazda 3 for example?