Mercedes A Class W169, an E Class mini. Mercedes A Class W169, for those two snobs in the world who want a supermini that costs as much as a proper car.

If you wanted a supermini in 2005 you had a selection narrower than the clothing of an all-girl summer band. This is 2005, before the crisis. Everyone is enjoying the oppulence of wasteful SUVs such as the Touareg, Cayenne, ML or X5. The poorest among us had Mondeo or Passat sedans. We couldn’t fathom life with a hatchback like the Golf, much less with a supermini. Lots of people secured handsome retirement funds hauling billions of B6 Passats on trailers from Germany to the balkans. So who cared about superminis back in 2005? Literally noone.



But here’s the Mercedes A-Class W169, which promises continue the work of the first generation and carry the story forward. If the first generation was a quasi-successful experiment, the Mercedes A-Class W169 hit the mark. The second generation A-Class came with so much technology and such a high standard of interior quality that it was hard to distinguish the A-Class from a C Class. And here comes its main issue: It’s equipped like a C Class, it’s luxurious like a C Class and it costs almost as much as a C Class.


Mercedes A Class W169 – the official “Not gonna do it twice” car.

 Mercedes has listened intensely to its clientele and delivered exactly what they want. A luxurious, comfortable, small and reliable car. Basically, an urban C Class.


And how did the A Class W169 do?

The same as the B Class, to which it is closely related. Very badly. Apart from taxi drivers and a few snobs, this car didn’t have many customers, which is one of the reasons why a used A Class W169 is so cheap. Basically, people who had Mercedes money bought a C Class outright, and people who wanted a supermini weren’t willing to shell out extra money just because it has Mercedes written on it. But is it really worth buying an A-Class W169 these days?



Mercedes A Class W169 Engines


  • 1.5 MPI of 70 and 95 horsepower – The old M166 was replaced by the superb M266, shared with the B Class. Developed specifically for these two cars due to the sandwich construction, the engine is simple and reliable. It has one specific issue, but even there it is not related to the actual reliability.
  • 1.7 MPI of 85, 116 and 118 horsepower – By far the most balanced engine for the Mercedes A Class 169, this engine offers the best power-to-economy-to-reliability ratio. And the fuel economy is quite important for this generation A Class, because you have nowhere to install an LPG tank.
  • 2.0 MPI of 100, 136, 193 and 196 horsepower – I would recommend this engine, being the same M266. Except that the main concern with this engine is the displacement of 2034 cubic centimetres. That means that in most european countries it’s gonna be taxes quite abit, since it’s over 2 litres in capacity. And seriously, who in his/her right mind looks at an A Class and says to himself/herself “Mmmm, yes, the perfect car for 200 horsepower”





2.0 CDI of 60, 80, 82, 109 and 111 horsepower – Same old old engine. Reliable and economical, but do you really want an A Class diesel? This diesel engine rattles so badly that if you sit in traffic with the window open and no seatbelt, you have every chance of being thrown out the window just from the engine shaking. I wouldn’t risk my life for 1 litre of diesel saved every 100 kms. As a point of interest, this engine doesn’t handle short city trips at all and will develop particle filter and glow plug issues.



Mercedes A Class W169 General Issues

  • As with the first generation, one of the main issues is labour costs. Because the A-Class has a sandwich construction (the engine in case of an accident slides under the pedals and therefore under the passengers, so you don’t get a piston in your arms) and the engines are located transversely. The only access points to these engines are in the basic maintenance area, such as oil changes. For more serious issues, often the engine has to be removed altogether.
  • The second issue inherited from the first generation is the automatic transmission. The second generation B Class got a 7G-Tronic automatic transmission, but that’s like saying you didn’t fail your exam with a 3.6 but with a 4.8. It’s a bit better, but you still failed it.
  • No meal without soy, no list without Hyundai i30 and no rust-free 2005 Mercedes. Yep, ladies, gents, gentlemen and everything in between, the Mercedes A-Class W169 is also suffering from issues on the rust side, this time in the door sills.



Mercedes A Class W169 Verdict

Yes, it doesn’t look like a conventional car, but if you want a Mercedes that’s cheap to buy and relatively cheap to maintain, the A-Class W169 could be a very good choice. If a VW Polo or a Ford Fiesta are too cheap for you, then an A Class will say about you that you have good taste. Or that you are quirky. Or very strange. Or maybe you just saw an A-Class at a good price and don’t know whether to buy it or not.




Which engine do I recommend? Like the B Class, I’m going to recommend the petrol M266, in the 1.7 litres 116 horsepower version. It’s got enough power to get you around town and has time-proven reliability. As for the diesel, I’d give more thought to whether I’d want to be thrown out the window or not due to the engine rattling.