The Mercedes W169 was in production between 2004 and 2012, and in that time Mercedes has managed to sell a ton of these. The W169 is available with various iterations of the inline 4-cylinder Mercedes engine with a power output between 95hp and 195hp.
Design-wise, the W169 is not exactly what you would class as an entry-level hatchback as is the case with the latest two A-Class models but more something of a middle ground between a hatchback and a minivan. Interior-wise, the W169 feels premium and well built which is not exactly something you can say about the exterior.
The W196 is also not the most reliable Mercedes car of all time, yet it is able to last a long time if maintained correctly. These have been around for quite a while and not all that many people are willing to spend the money needed to maintain them as they are relatively cheap to buy these days.
Practicality-wise, the W169 is on the cramped side, but you are able to fit up to four moderately-sized adults. Cargo space is decent, especially for an early 2000s compact city car. All in all, the W169 is definitely an acquired taste, so if you like it, there are many reasons why you should buy it.
Mercedes W169 – The powerplant
The W169 range kicks off with the A150 model which offers a 1.5L inline 4-cylinder engine with 95hp. The next in line is the A160 model which is available with the very same engine, yet the model designation was only introduced in 2010 as a replacement for the A150. The A170 uses a more powerful 116hp 1.7L inline 4-cylinder engine.
The A180 was also introduced in 2010 as a replacement for the A170 with the very same engine and output. The A200 uses a 2.0L inline 4-cylinder engine with 136hp while the range-topping A200 Turbo uses the very same engine but with a turbocharger strapped onto it for a combined power output of 193hp.
The W196 is available with either a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic gearbox. It is also exclusively a FWD car. The MPG results the W196 offers are between 38MPG combined for the lower-end models while the range-topping 2.0L inline 4-cylinder turbo can return around 30MPG combined.
Mercedes W169 – Design and chassis
The W169 looks a bit unorthodox as it is not really a minivan, nor a true hatchback. The W169 sits higher when compared to newer A-Class models which give it superior all-around visibility. It’s safe to say that the design is either good-looking to you, or not. Mercedes decided to ditch this design in favor of a more common hatchback look which seems to have been the right choice.
The interior of the W169 is fairly premium, especially if equipped with the leather option pack. The interior resembles the one found in the C-Class from that era which is indeed a good thing. Even though the exterior design is sure to slip hairs, the interior design is likely going to be nice no matter who you asking.
The chassis and suspension tuning of the W169 is obviously tuned towards a comfortable ride which means that all W169 models feel sophisticated. They are in no way sports cars because such a high center of gravity is actually a dealbreaker if you like spirited driving.
Mercedes W169 – Reliability and common issues
The Mercedes W169 is mediocre when it to comes to reliability as some models tend to break down quite often while others are stout. The earlier the model, the higher the chances of it developing problems as Mercedes managed to iron out quite a few issues with the later model.
Either way, the most common issues that tend to plague the W169 are down to the automatic gearbox, engine cooling and injectors/valves, oil leaks, and suspension issues. Maintenance is not all that expensive because there is a ton of these around which means that parts are readily available and these are also easy to work on.
Mercedes W169 – Value and practicality
The W169 can be bought for peanuts these days, but if you want a more decent model with good equipment and not too many miles on the clock, you will have to spend a few grand at least. This is indeed a good price, especially if you like the W169.
Practicality-wise, you should not expect the W169 to be anything special as it is a compact car through and through. Cargo space is decent though, especially thanks to the wide trunk opening.
Which Mercedes W169 is the best?
The W169 comes in quite a few iterations and the best ones to buy are either the A200 or the A200 Turbo. These two are powerful enough without being noticeably any worse when it comes to efficiency. You should also focus on later post-2010 models as these are a lot better and are able to last for longer.
The pre-facelift models are not a strict no-go, but if you want the best value for money, it makes all the sense in the world to go for a more reliable post-facelift model.
Is the Mercedes W169 safe?
The W169 sometimes seems a bit iffy when it comes to safety because it’s a bit higher off the ground and because it tends to roll quite a bit in the corners. This did not pose as an issue back when the W169 also earned a 5-star safety rating, but it is worth mentioning as the A-Class was never intended to go fast around corners anyway.
The W169 is too old to benefit from all the state-of-the-art safety software systems which means that you should not expect to find these in the W169.
Should I buy the Mercedes W169?
As mentioned countless times by now, the W169 is an acquired taste which means that buying it depends on how you feel about the way the car looks, feels and drives. There are many people out there, myself included, who absolutely hate the way the car looks while others deem it to be perfect for what it is.
As such, if you like it, want it, and have a use for it, the W169 is a worthy consideration, especially because it is really affordable these days.