In 2018, TopAuto reader Jan bought a second-hand Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI, as he needed something for cheap commuting.
To his own surprise, it turned out to be one of his favourite forms of transport – and he regularly walks past his SUV and motorcycle to get into the A-Class.
“It’s got personality,” said Jan, “I love it”.
Jan shared his ownership experience with TopAuto below.
Which model do you own?
I own a 2012 Mercedes-Benz A180 CDI Avantgarde.
I bought the car in 2018 when it had just over 100,000 kilometres on it, and it’s currently standing at around 140,000 kilometres.
What are your three favourite things about the car?
My favourite thing about this car is its driving position.
I must say, it is the main reason that swung my purchasing decision in favour of the A180 over newer, entry-level hatchbacks for the same price.
Despite the size and body style, the car has great ground clearance and getting in and out of it is easier than in an SUV.
When on the road I am eye-level with the crossover drivers, and I can see the roofs of other hatchbacks.
I also like the space that the car provides.
I can easily fit five passengers with some luggage, and I regularly put down the rear seats to take my Rottweiler to the park. He likes the car, too.
Apart from this there is no one big thing that I can point out.
The build quality is great; there are some nice details, such as metal Mercedes-Benz logos on the floor mats and partial-leather seats; and the front and rear parking sensors are more helpful than irritating.
Which three things do you like least about the car?
If there is one thing I absolutely despise it’s this car’s operating system.
The old Mercedes system has not aged well as it is difficult to navigate, it’s not that intuitive, and it doesn’t look good.
I have tried – for longer than I’d like to admit – to activate its tyre pressure monitoring system so that the notification can stop bothering me, but my efforts have been fruitless.
Thinking about it now the owner’s manual might have all my answers, but who reads the manual anyway?
The 1.6-litre diesel engine does not provide much power, either.
It is fine for stop-start city driving, but it struggles to get up to speed on the highway.
After 80km/h the acceleration becomes much less powerful, and reaching 120km/h takes longer than getting to the original 80.
Seeing as it is a German car, after all, its parts are also expensive.
My A180 hasn’t given me many troubles during the past three years, except when I had to replace some part in the transmission.
I am no mechanic and I have no idea what needed to be replaced.
What I can tell you, though, is that I had to wait a few weeks for the part to arrive in South Africa and it cost me about R23,000.
Nevertheless, I paid the man, and I haven’t had a single regret about it.
What is it like to drive your car every day?
The drive and seats are very comfortable, and finding a parking spot is easy.
I am happy to report that it’s light on diesel, too, as I get around 18km per litre.
What is the hardest journey you have ever taken with your car?
We went to Nottingham Road in KwaZulu-Natal for a long weekend, which was a 1,300km trip in total.
My main car was in for a service and this was all we had available.
It performed well with open-road cruising at 120km/h, and I didn’t feel unsafe at any point in time.
This was until a huge storm came up just after we passed the Drakensberg.
Everything was fine on the highway, but all the roads were flooded when we reached the small town.
However, the little A180 soldiered on without a hiccup and brought us home safely.
Would you recommend your car to friends and family?
As a daily commuter, definitely.
It’s comfortable and spacious, and I firmly believe that it has a better build quality than all the new-age hatchbacks that companies pump out today.
I would like to add that the Mercedes-only mechanic that fixed my gearbox also offered to buy the car from me, at a higher value than what I paid for it.
He said that mine was in a great condition and that it will still be going for years to come.
So, if you can find one like mine, go for it.