The old A-Class earned its sales spurs, but it was never the cheapest car to straddle the supermini/small hatchback divide.

The latest version continues in a similar vein, and with the city car leanings banished by its longer backbone, its starting price climbs to fit broadly between the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.

Matt Saunders

Chief tester
Go wild with safety and multimedia options, but don't expect much return come resale time.

Mercedes' A 180, in an unnamed trim level beneath SE, Sport, AMG Sport and (confusingly) Engineered by AMG, is the cheapest A-Class. As it’s hindered by 15in steel wheels, no one will buy it, but with Mercedes’ new 1.6-litre petrol engine offering a respectable mix of efficiency and performance, it deserves wider attention.

The A 180 CDI kicks off the diesel side of the line-up, albeit with SE trim at the base. This car is worthy of consideration, too, thanks to the sub-100g/km CO2 output afforded by its Renault-sourced motor. Its pricing puts it head to head with BMW’s much-admired 116d EfficientDynamics model.

You’ll need to avoid temptation at the options stage, though; liberal box-ticking can leave even the more humble of A-Class sagging under a frankly unconscionable price tag.

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