From £20,7157

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.

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

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.

We recorded a respectable 57.6mpg touring route figure, and with the engine’s revs quick to settle into the long stride of the gearbox’s seventh ratio, that kind of economy isn’t unusual even on more varied runs if you deliberately eke it out.

If economy is of particular concern, the 109bhp A 180 CDI performs admirably, with a combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg. That it takes 11.3 seconds to reach 62mph is the only real penalty.

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