Mercedes-Benz A-Class A 180 BlueEFFICIENCY SE DCT
What is it?
This is the latest Mercedes-Benz A-Class in 1.6-litre SE petrol form. Put simply, a version of the new A-Class that’s pretty close to entry level spec yet which still exudes the class and quality you’d expect from the Three Pointed Star.
Scroll through the extensive A-Class range and you’ll find this A180 BlueEfficiency (124PS) sitting below the A200 (156PS) and A250 with 211PS.
At Business Car Manager, we’ve already met and tested the A-Class with diesel power – the A200 CDI BlueEfficiency (click here to see the full car review) – so the question now is how does this petrol A180 compare? Could it be a better fit for the company car buyer?
We’re driving the A180 SE with 7-speed automatic transmission. While it might not be the most dynamic A-Class around (there are Sport and AMG editions that better fit that bill), this 1.6 turbo SE is not short on equipment or Teutonic kerb appeal.
As standard, the SE has sports seats, sports steering wheel, body-coloured bumpers, Active Bonnet, ECO stop/start…and more, for a £21,600 OTR.
Our test car had a rack of options such as Active Park Assist, heated front seats, Becker sat nav and Lane Tracking package which lifted the price to £26,315.
So, how does it stack up?
- Image. This third generation A-Class has jazzy, sporty looks that lift it well above the understated looks of its precedessor. Would certainly turn heads in the company car park.
- Inside and out, the Mercedes looks and feels a high quality item. Doors close with a reassuringly solid clunk
- The 1.6 turbo engine is smooth, refined and has the best combined economy (52.3 mpg) and lowest CO2 emissions (127g/km) in the A180 petrol camp.
- Slick, responsive 7-speed dual clutch semi-automatic transmission with steering wheel paddleshift
- Speed-sensitive steering is pin sharp and beautifully weighted.
- With its extensive security and safety equipment which includes seven airbags, Adaptive Brake Assist, Active Bonnet (for pedestrian protection), Collision Prevention Assist as standard (among other features), the A-Class comes with top level safety.
- Strong, comfortable support from the well-designed A-Class seats.
- Mercedes residuals traditionally among the best in the industry
- Performance is steady rather than sparkling, despite wide torque band to boost low-range pulling power. 0-62 mph takes a lengthy 9.1 secs.
- Cabin space much better in the front, than back, which feels relatively cramped. From the driver’s seat, rear three-quarter vision also quite poor.
- Despite standard Comfort suspension, A-Class ride is relatively firm and not as supple and absorbent over bumps as, say, a Golf’s.
- Overall, not as involving a drive as some rivals, like the BMW 1-Series and Volvo V40.
Business Car Manager Verdict
After two generations of middling success with the A-Class, Mercedes has achieved a more convincing product this time round. The latest A-Class combines sleek, showbiz looks with all the quality, safety and attention to detail that you’d expect from Mercedes, and all in a compact, convenient package.
At first glance, the diesel A180 CDI BlueEfficiency SE with 13% BIK and £21,170 P11D would seem to be the company car favourite in the A-Class camp.
But if you prefer petrol, and your job doesn’t demand high motorway mileage, then this is an attractive proposition – not least because of the lower price of petrol at UK pumps. Company car tax is marginally less (£1 a month) than the equivalent diesel at £3619
However, this almost identically priced petrol SE is not so far behind and with decent economy and CO2 numbers to its name and with strong refinement too, it makes its case. It might not have the pizzaz of an AMG, but it’s an effective all-rounder.
Oh, and having one of the best badges in the business is surely no bad thing.
The Low Down…
|Doors and body style||5-door hatchback|
|Engine/gearbox||1.6-litre petrol/7-speed auto|
…and what it costs
|Monthly business rental (ex VAT)||From £249|
|Road tax (VED)||Band D|
|Company Car Tax Bands 2012/13 to 2014/15||16%, 17%, 18%|
|Benefit in kind 2012/13 to 2014/15||£3447, £3663, £3878|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (20%)||£646/£54|
|Annual/Monthly fuel benefit (40%)||£1293/£108|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (20%)||£689/£57|
|Annual/monthly company car tax (40%)||£1379/£115|
|Figures correct at time of posting|
|For latest figures||Use our company car tax calculator|