First review Mercedes A 180 CDI: a successful transplant

Mercedes A 180 CDI
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Mercedes chose to set up an engine with Renault roots on its basic diesel versions of the A-Class. Is the A 180 CDI up to the Mercedes demands?

Following the partnership between Renault-Nissan and Daimler, both partners had to gain: Renault will deliver diesel and petrol small displacement engines for Mercedes and Smart, and Mercedes will deliver, among others, the 2,2-liter diesel and the GLA platform for the Infiniti future compact SUV.

The first transplant already happened. The 1,5-liter and 109 HP diesel engine with Renault origins showed up under the hood of the 6-speed manual Mercedes A 180 CDI. A weaker 90 HP version of the same engine propels the A 160 CDI. Do not confuse this engine with the engine mounted in romanian brand Dacia, which is an older version of the same engine, even though it has the same bore and stroke and the same power. The new 1.5 dCi under the hood of the Megane and of the Clio, that was transplanted under the hood of the A-Class, is almost 20% more economical than the old engine.


But there are differences even between the most recent version of this Clio and Megane engine and the one set up in the Mercedes. The Mercedes raised the compression ratio from 15,2:1 to 15,5:1 and the start&stop system comes standard. Mercedes A 180 CDI accelerates one second faster than the 1.5 dCi Megane, but the fuel consumption is 0,3 l/100 km extra. The explanation is that the Mercedes shortly sequenced the speed gear to get a better dynamics tune. Mercedes has also insulate the engine compartment better: the cylinder cover is thicker and there is also an extra insulation between the cockpit and the engine.

 The Renault engine of the A-Class Mercedes is not identical with the one of the Clio and the Megane

When it comes to driving, it seems a bit lazier than the 1.6 TDI/105 HP of the Audi A3 and the 2.0 diesel/116 HP of the BMW 116i, while the in-gear acceleration make it comparable with the two rivals.

  • The engine is up to the reputation of the rivals when it comes to consumption and in-gear acceleration
  • The Mercedes changed the engine according to their own demands


  • The noise goes up at higher load
  • Slowlier response than the one in the 2.1 litre 136 HP
  • The price is too close to the 2.1 liter engine
  • The in-gear acceleration is obviously weaker than the one of the 2.1 liter engine.

When it comes to a long distance drive, it is quieter and more user-friendly at 130-140 km/h cruising speed. But the pulling power is not up to the 2,1-liter engine level at high speed and is not quite that quiet as the 2,1-liter at higher load. The version that we tested had a standard suspension and 16-inch alloy wheels. The drive train is rigid, but not as rigid as the sport suspension versions or the AMG package are. Thus, the Mercedes A 180 CDI is more day by day user-friendly, even though the standard suspension has a sports tendency and, just like for the other versions, the rear suspension is rigidly tied to the frame suspension.

Better brakes, sharp steering and a standardly sporty drive train make the A 180 exciting to drive. So is buying a Renault engined Mercedes worth it? It can be a reputation issue for the starred brand, but technically, the combination is successful and the engine is above our expectations. There is though one single problem: the price! Mercedes A 180 CDI, bearing a Renault 109 HP engine, accelerates 2 seconds slowlier from 0 to 100 km/h than the A 200 CDI bearing a 2,1-liter 136 HP Mercedes engine, maximum speed is 20 km/h lower, it has 40 Nm less and is by 1,488 euros cheaper. And the fuel consumption difference is only 0,4 l/100 km.

 The Verdict

The engine transplant from the Renault to the Mercedes used to seem impossible. But, technically speaking, the aftermath is successful, as the Mercedes adjusted the engine to their own demands. There could be a reputation issue for the Mercedes, but the impact is minimum. We were expecting a smaller price though.

Technical data Mercedes A 180 CDI EU version

ModelA 180 CDI
Engine typeL4, turbodiesel
Displacement (cmc)1461
Max. power/revs (HP/rpm)109/4000
Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)260/1750-2500
Transmissionman. 6 sp./aut. 7 sp.
L/l/h (mm)4292/1780/1433
Wheelbase (mm)2699
Boot capacity (l)341-1157
Kerb weight (kg)1395 (1430)
Maximum speed (km/h)190 (190)
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)11,3 (11,6)
Combined fuel consumption (l/100 km)3,8 (4,0)
Emission CO2 (g/km)98 (103)
Price (euro with VAT, GER)26.953,50


One Comment

  • Trond grytnes says:

    It is Renault , in a Mercedes.
    I have had Mercedes for 25 years, so when they put in a Renault heart in the car, it is no longer an option for me.

    I learned 25 years ago that if you want quality, stay away from Renault, fiat, Citroeng, buy Mercedes. Now, I can get a peugeot with same quality, to much lower pricing