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

Deputy road test editor
Go wild with safety and multimedia options, but don't expect much return come resale time.

Mercedes' A180, 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 A180 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.