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Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012) Buying Guide

Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)
Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)Mercedes A-Class (2004-2012)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

The smallest car to wear a Mercedes badge, the first- and second-generation A-Classes never really captured buyers' imaginations, despite their innovative design and construction. The A-Class wouldn't be a success for Mercedes until the much more conventional third-generation model arrived in 2012. A big improvement over the first iteration, the A-Class Mk2 featured a spacious cabin, excellent build quality and brilliant diesel engines, so the baby Merc lived up to the promise of the three-pointed star. After that it's more of a mixed bag, but with the car providing the cabin space of an E-Class in a car little longer than a Mini, while the A-Class isn't big, it is clever.

We LikeWe Don't Like
Spacious cabin
Low running costs
Safety kit
Distinctive design
Upmarket image
Compromised ride
Automatic transmission
Some poor cabin materials
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Key Dates 
12/04The second-generation A-Class is launched with a choice of 1.5, 1.7 or 2.0-litre petrol engines, along with a 2.0-litre turbodiesel in three different forms (82bhp A160 CDi, 109bhp A180 CDi and 140bhp A200 CDi).
10/05A turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine is now available, in the A200 Turbo.
7/08A facelifted A-Class is launched, with more safety equipment, better multimedia systems and cosmetic tweaks. It also features more efficient engines with reduced CO2 emissions.
  • Low-mileage diesel cars can suffer from glow plugs that have bonded themselves to the cylinder head.
  • The simulated leather of some cars isn't always that tough, so check for splits and other damage.
  • Some owners find the suspension too firm for comfort, so try the car on poor surfaces before buying.
  • Electrics can be temperamental, especially items such as the powered windows and central locking, so make sure that everything works.
  • The hose that feeds the washer for the rear window can detach, flooding the tailgate in the process.
  • Brake discs don't generally last very long - the fronts often last just 25,000 miles. Replacements are costly and new pads will be needed too.
  • Some colours such as metallic black can mark easily, so look for chips and scratches as well as damage from bird droppings.
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