Humanity might be turning towards a greener, more sustainable, and less ego-centric worldview, but capitalism is still the main driving force behind everything we do. For that reason, cars such as the Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan exist. This flashy subcompact luxury sedan speaks volumes about its owners, who are most likely young professionals on the up. It has a handsome face and stunning interior, but there's not much go to match the show, thanks to an underpowered 2.0-liter turbo four-pot delivering 188 horsepower. But on the road, the A-Class sedan is a treat, and there are lots of standard features to play with. As is the norm in this class, there is very little cargo space on offer, but when you're a young paralegal, that won't matter. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan competes with the Audi A3 Sedan and its own sibling, the CLA. Let's look at how it compares against these two competent vehicles.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan gets ready for the new year with fresh standard features that increase safety, spruce up the car's interior and exterior, and make it easier to live with. On the outside, the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class gets a set of standard 18-inch bi-color wheels, while the interior now benefits from a cool-looking 64-color ambient lighting system. Blind-spot assist is standard for 2021 too, and the MBUX interior assistant is now available as a standalone option.
No matter what angle you view the A-Class sedan form, it manages to look simply stunning and has to be one of the best looking cars in its class (it's definitely better looking than the Audi A3 sedan). Exterior features include new 18-inch alloy wheels, a panorama roof, and LED headlights. Optional extras include an AMG body styling kit with twin trapezoidal chrome tailpipes as well as Gloss Black exterior accents.
This feisty German is classified as a subcompact executive car and is slightly larger than the Audi A3 sedan. Measuring in at 179.1 inches, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is almost four inches longer than its Audi rival. The rest of its dimensions read as follows: the wheelbase is 107.4 inches long, it sits 78.4 inches wide with the side mirrors, and is 56.9 inches tall. The front track is 61.7 inches, and the rear track is 60.9 inches. The A-Class can't be called a lightweight, but it weighs a reasonably good 3,285 pounds in FWD guise, increasing to 3,395 lbs for the AWD version.
This Merc is one of the better-looking sedans around and is available in nine striking colors. Buyers are offered two no-cost options, namely Polar White and Night Black. From there on out, each color option costs $720. The list of premium colors on offer includes Digital White metallic, Cosmos Black Metallic, Iridium Silver Metallic, Mountain Grey Metallic, Mojave Silver Metallic
Denim Blue Metallic, and finally Patagonia Red Metallic. The sleek proportions of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class lend itself to darker colors, so Night Black or even some of the darker silvers such as Mountain Grey will suit this car perfectly.
Mercedes-Benz has been delivering some incredibly impressive performance models as of late, especially those wearing the AMG badge, but how do its more humble offerings perform? In the case of the 2021 A-Class sedan, performance is not a real strong point. On paper, the A-Class comes packed with an industry-standard turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine producing 188 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. That sounds like enough power to scoot around the 3,300 lbs A-Class, but in reality, it struggles and leaves one wanting a bit more. Mercedes-Benz claims a 0 to 60 sprint time of 7.1 seconds and a top speed limited to 130 mph. Compare that to the Audi A3 sedan's sprint time of 6.6 seconds, and you start to get an idea of the level of performance on offer in the segment. Thankfully, a quick-shifting dual-clutch transmission makes the most of the power available, and while it might not keep up with the competition or have a massive top speed, it still feels fast enough for the daily grind and won't leave you stuck in the slow lane on the highway. Mercedes-Benz gives buyers the option of going for either FWD or AWD.
The industry has adopted the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine across numerous body styles and configurations. Its ability to produce decent power and keep the fuel costs low is an attractive prospect, and Mercedes-Benz has put this engine format to great use in its AMG models where 300 hp is easily attainable. Still, the 2021 A-Class sedan keeps things more sedate with a power output of only 188 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque. Power delivery from this engine is a bit hit and miss, and power can surge when you want it to be smooth. It's also not the best-sounding engine out there, but its mostly quiet operation does add to the refinement of the overall driving experience. In town, there's enough low down surge to get you in and out of tight spots in traffic, and on the highway, you won't be stuck in the slow lane, but you won't be bothering anyone in the fast lane either. The fact that the 188-hp A-Class is considered relatively slow for its class shows how far we've come in terms of engine development. Power is sent to either the front or all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which delivers crisp gear changes.
The modern subcompact executive sedan is expected to deliver impressive performance, luxury, practicality, and fun, which places some serious pressure on manufacturers. With cars such as the Audi A3 and BMW 2 Series battling it out in the same class, the Mercedes-Benz has to be pretty good in the bends. The good news is that this little sedan rides beautifully and will appeal to both the relaxed suburban cruiser and the fast-paced executive who likes to tailgate and cross red traffic lights. At lower speed in the city, the A-Class soaks up bumps without hesitation. The ride is not too stiff, but it doesn't feel wallowy either. It must be said that the FWD car feels better over rough surfaces than the heavier AWD variant. At higher speeds, the A-Class shows its true capabilities by offering a composed driving experience that instills confidence. There is minimal body roll, and the steering is responsive and precise. Lowered comfort suspension is an optional extra, but we would give it a skip. As with most modern luxury sedans, the driving experience could be a bit more engaging, but for its target market, the A-Class offers the perfect driving experience.
Turbocharged 2.0-liter engines usually offer good to middling fuel economy, depending on their state of tune. The engine in the A-Class produces mild power figures that help keep fuel consumption down, yet it can't match some of the other competitors fitted with the same kind of powertrain. The EPA rates that the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan will manage 25/36/29 mpg city/highway/combined in FWD configuration, while the AWD version will see that number drop to 25/34/28 mpg. The Audi A3 sedan, by comparison, will manage an impressive 27/36/30 mpg according to the latest available figures. Fitted with a 13.5-gallon fuel tank, the A-Class sedan will be able to travel for up to 391 miles before needing to refuel.
Mercedes-Benz builds some of the best interiors in the German luxury-car market, and even cars at the lower end of its lineup benefit from some fine craftsmanship and design. Step inside the cabin of the 2021 A-Class sedan, and you'll be welcomed by a contemporary design that combines sleek looks with real ergonomics; not only does it look good, but everything falls to hand logically. The interior of the 2021 car features 12-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way power lumbar support and a memory system for each front seat. There's dual-zone climate control up front, and the newly added 64-color LED ambient lighting adds a whole other level of ambiance to the cabin. The seven-inch touchscreen is neatly integrated into the top of the dashboard, and the space feels roomy enough for four to five passengers.
Don't let the A-Class sedan's classification as 'subcompact sedan' fool you into thinking that it won't offer any space - this little luxury sedan will happily cart you and four of your pottery class comrades to the wine bar down the road in comfort. Getting in and out of the A-Class is simple for those in the front, but taller passengers will have to bend to get in the back. Once inside, the A-Class offers figure-hugging seats in the front that hint at its mildly sporting nature, and the driving position is spot on for such a compact sedan. The front seats offer 12-way power adjustability, and for added comfort can be specced with ventilation and heating. Legroom in the front is more than enough for most adults, while legroom in the rear is less generous but will do just fine for your average-sized human.
The interior of the A-Class sedan is a special place to be, as is evidenced by a smart choice of materials used. In standard form, the A-Class's seats are covered in Black MB-Tex material that feels refined yet hardy. This material is available in Macchiato Beige and, while several other colors and materials are on offer, they all require additional options. For example, Neva Grey/Black MB-Tex requires at least the $2,600 AMG Line package. To get Black MB-Tex/Dinamica with red stitching, the same applies. Leather upholstery costs $1,450 in Black, Bahia Brown, Classic Red/Black, or Titanium Grey/Black. However, the leather upholstery requires at least $500 extra for heated front seats too, or the AMG Line upgrade for some color choices. In terms of interior trim, Mercedes-Benz offers buyers the option of aluminum with linear grain, aluminum with longitudinal grain, natural Grain Black Linden wood for $325, or Natural Grain Brown Walnut wood for the same price.
The subcompact sedan class is not and will never be known for its massive trunk and cargo areas, and the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class is no different. There might be room for five adults to sit in fair comfort, but their stuff will have to find another way home, as the A-Class Sedan only offers 8.6 cubic feet of trunk space. The A3 sedan is still on the tight side but offers a much more generous 12.3 cubic feet of space. Thankfully the rear seats in the A-Class can fold down in 40/20/40-split-folding fashion, adding precious additional storage space. The back seat's center section is also foldable, which means longer items will easily slip through, too. Small items will find a home in the slim door pockets, glovebox, front cupholders, and center console storage bin.
For the price you pay, the 2021 A-Class sedan comes with a rather impressive number of standard features. This subcompact luxury car's cabin features 12-way power-adjustable seats with four-way lumbar support, dual-zone climate control, remote start via the Mercedes me mobile app, 64-color LED ambient lighting, keyless start, an illuminated entry system, and cruise control. Active driver safety features include active brake assist, attention assist, blind-spot assist, and crosswind assist. Optional extras include heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, leather seats, and wireless phone charging.
The Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system works beautifully, and the combination of touchpad control and natural voice recognition makes it easy to use. The main display is a seven-inch touchscreen. This system features five USB-C ports, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth audio streaming, an eight-speaker sound system, and HD Radio. Both the driver and front-seat passenger can operate the system without losing much focus on the road, and the menu system is straightforward. For those who won't be satisfied with the relatively small standard display, Mercedes-Benz offers an optional 10.25-inch display with navigation. Other optional extras include wireless phone charging, Wi-Fi connectivity, TuneIn and SiriusXM radio, and finally, a 12-speaker Burmester sound system that loves blasting Dragonfly by Mort Garson.
This fresh-faced car has not been around long enough to show any significant faults, and the 2021 A-Class sedan has not yet been recalled. Models built in 2020 did, however, suffer from a single recall relating to an unsecured driver's airbag, while 2019 models were recalled for the same issue plus three other issues such as a delayed camera display, water that could potentially enter the cabin and affect electrical components, and a brake pedal plate that could bend. Mercedes-Benz will cover the A-Class sedan with a five-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, including corrosion, drivetrain, and roadside assistance cover for the same period/mileage to allay fears about reliability.
Unfortunately, the 2021 A-Class sedan has not yet received a rating by either the NHTSA or the IIHS, as neither has subjected the Mercedes-Benz A-Class to review, but the 2018 model received a perfect score from the folks over at Euro NCAP based on their reviews of it. That being said, there is no doubt that the 2021 car should be as safe or even safer, thanks to standard advanced driver assistance systems.
Despite its lack of crash-test records, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class should prove to be a safe car thanks to its diverse collection of driver assistance systems. Standard on all A-Class sedans are eight airbags, including combined thorax/pelvic bags, as well as electronic stability control, traction control, and an electronic parking brake. Driver assistance systems include active brake assist, driver attention assist, blind-spot assist, crosswind assist, and adaptive braking technology. LED headlights and rain-sensing windshield wipers do duty as well. The optional Driver Assistance Package adds active steering assist, evasive steering assist, cross-traffic assist, active emergency stop assist, speed-limit assist, active lane keep assist, and more. Parking sensors and a surround-view camera system are optionally available as part of the Parking Assistance package.
By just looking at it, most prospective buyers will fall in love with the 2021 A-Class sedan. It is a beautiful car, perhaps the best looking in its class, and in this segment, that counts for a lot, especially with young professionals who want to show off a badge instead of actual practicality or performance. Where the A-Class fails to impress is in the engine department. Its turbocharged 2.0-liter engine offers enough power for the daily commute, but rivals such as the Audi A3 sedan feel so much more alive and are quicker too, despite similar power outputs. The A-Class gains back a bit of ground in terms of handling, where it shines with a refined driving experience and sharp steering response. The interior is on par with what we've come to expect from Mercedes-Benz cars; it's both opulent and beautifully designed. Standard tech levels are good, and there are lots of safety systems on board. Priced competitively, the Mercedes A-Class sedan definitely deserves a look.
The price of a new Mercedes A-Class sedan in FWD guise is $33,650, excluding tax, registration, and a destination fee of $995. The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, by comparison, goes for an MSRP of $37,700 in base trim. The 4MATIC AWD A-Class sedan will set you back $35,650. Fully loaded, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan can cost over $50k, putting it well in the sights of an optioned-out and more powerful CLA.
For the US market, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is offered in two trim levels; however, other engine options are available outside of the USA, too. On offer for 2021 is the A220 Sedan and the A220 4MATIC Sedan, the former being FWD and the latter coming with AWD. Both cars are powered by the same turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine producing 188 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, and both have an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard features are shared between these two models, with the only difference being drivetrain configurations.
Standard exterior features include LED headlights, a panorama roof, and your choice of 17- or 18-inch alloy wheels. On the inside, the A-Class sedan features 12-way power-adjustable seats with four-way lumbar support, 64-color LED ambient lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless start, remote start via the Mercedes me mobile app, and cruise control. Driver assistance features include blind-spot assist, crosswind assist, brake assist, and attention assist. The infotainment system consists of a seven-inch or optional 10.25-inch display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Bluetooth streaming, and optional extras such as Wi-Fi connectivity and wireless phone charging.
The spec sheet on the A-Class sedan is already an impressive one, but there will always be those that want a bit of extra exclusivity and practicality. Mercedes-Benz caters for these buyers with a decent list of optional extras. The exterior of the A-Class sedan can be adorned with the $2,600 AMG Line kit that adds features such as AMG body styling, 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, and a chrome diamond-block grille. Standalone interior options include heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel. Interior packages on offer are the $1,750 Premium Package, which adds a 10.25-inch cluster and infotainment display, auto-dimming mirrors, keyless-go, and hands-free access. The $1,295 Multi-Media package includes navigation, augmented video for navigation, and speed-limit assist. The Driver Assistance Package is one of the more notable offerings. For $1,700, it adds safety features such as active steering assist, evasive steering assist, emergency stop assist, and active speed limit assist.
Mercedes-Benz has made the choice relatively straightforward for new buyers. Both the A220 and A220 4MATIC share precisely the same features and powertrain, but the 4MATIC gains an AWD system. Under the hood of the A-Class sedan is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that puts out enough power to get you around town, and the interior features and safety tech are up to class standards. If we were to buy a 2021 A-Class sedan, we would go with the AWD version and opt for the $1,750 Premium Package, along with the Burmester surround sound system.
The Mercedes-Benz CLA is yet another sleek "four-door coupe" from the German manufacturer and sits above the A-Class sedan in Merc's lineup. Having gone through a complete redesign in 2020, the CLA is fresh-faced and ready to impress. Under the hood lies a similar 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, but in this case, it produces 221 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which makes the CLA feel much faster and inspires more confidence from behind the steering wheel. A 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds is also significantly quicker than that of the A-Class. The CLA will return 25/35/29 mpg city/highway/combined in FWD guise, making it slightly less economical than the A-Class on the highway, but the extra power makes this small sacrifice worth it. On the road, the CLA feels more sporty, but handles bumps and undulations with ease. Inside, the CLA also feels more grown-up than the A-Class, and there's a tangible difference in comfort and overall experience. You also get more trunk space. These cars share most of the same features and safety tech, but at a starting price of $37,850, the CLA looks like the better bet.
The battle between the A-Class and A3 continues unabated, with both companies delivering some excellent products. The A3 sedan might be Audi's cheapest offering in the US, but it's far from feeling cheap. This subcompact executive brings the heat with several impressive features. Under the hood, the A3 delivers a similar 184 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-liter engine, but it manages to feel faster and more responsive than the A-Class, especially with a zero to sixty time of 6.6 seconds. The 2020 A3 beats the Merc with a fuel economy rating of 27/36/30 mpg on the city/highway/combined. Riding on the MQB platform means the A3 feels refined and athletic, but not quite as sharp as the Mercedes-Benz. The interior of the A3 is not as impressive as the A-Class Sedan and is tight, especially in the rear, but on the other side, it offers more trunk space at 12.3 cubic feet. The A3 doesn't offer as many standard features, and its infotainment is not up to the A-Class' standards. If you want a quicker car, get the Audi. For everything else, get the Merc.