So the A-Class we used to know has gone and with it packaging has departed that bordered on the revolutionary. Instead, today’s A-Class mirrors the segment norm, in being a 4.3-metre-long small family car that’s easier for potential buyers to understand.

The original A-Class’s ‘sandwich’ floor trademark, which neatly packaged the engine and ancillaries around or below the cabin rather than in front of or behind it, made it a brilliantly short and exceptionally spacious car.

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The A-Class may be svelte, but it's all too easy to brain yourself on the A-pillar entry.

But its purpose was less clear when compared with ostensibly ‘bigger’ rivals such as the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3, even if, inside, they were no bigger at all. Today’s A-Class, then, follows rather than breaks convention. Its proportions are typical for the segment, though the styling cues make it unquestionably a Mercedes.

You would know it even with the badges removed, thanks to the shape of the grille and lights and the strakes in the side that mimic Mercedes’ larger models.

Entirely deliberate, you would think, given that Mercedes will want to take advantage of customers downsizing from larger cars in its line-up, or fulfil the realities of those aspiring to own a Benz.

Given the  ‘join them’ ethos, the hardware is as conventional as you might expect. Beneath the steel monocoque there are MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link set-up at the rear.

Diesel engine choices consist of a 1.5-litre, two 1.8s and a 2.1. There are also four petrols: two of 1.6 litres and two of 2.0 litres. In addition, there is a plethora of chassis options, with a Comfort set-up offered alongside two firmer settings.

 

Top 5 Premium hatches

  • BMW i3
    Two versions of the BMW i3 are on sale: a pure electric model or a range-extender variant

    BMW i3

    1
  • Audi A3 Sportback
    All Audi A3s feature multi-link rear suspension, denied to some other MQB-based VW Group cars

    Audi A3 Sportback

    2
  • Volvo V40
    The new Volvo V40 is the Swedish firm's sleek and sporty-looking answer to the VW Golf, A3 Sportback and BMW 1-series

    Volvo V40

    3
  • The second generation 'more grown-up' Mini Clubman

    Mini Clubman

    4
  • BMW 1 Series
    BMW 1 Series gets nip-and-tuck treatment for 2015

    BMW 1 Series

    5

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel
    First Drive
    23 August 2016
    Its predecessor may have been a bit limp, but the Porsche Panamera 4S Diesel is crushingly rapid and suitably luxurious
  • Car review
    23 August 2016
    Can the best sports coupé of the decade absorb a contentious new engine?
  • Porsche Panamera Turbo
    First Drive
    22 August 2016
    Porsche has striven to make its Panamera even more luxurious this time around, but the four-seater retains the grip and pace to go with its increased refinement
  • Tesla Model S 60D
    First Drive
    22 August 2016
    Updated Tesla Model S gets tweaked styling and a new entry-level 60kWh powertrain. Could this new version be the pick of the range?
  • Car review
    22 August 2016
    New platform, fresh looks and a better cabin raise its game. Is it now a front runner?