The A-Class started life exceptionally small and grew significantly even before the end of its first full model lifecycle. Just over 20 years ago, the car had a wheelbase of only 2.4m and an overall length of just 3.6m, which would make it small today even by supermini standards.
We shouldn’t be surprised, therefore, that this new version – being a hatchback of a totally different and entirely less radical kind – bears little similarity in its dimensions.
However, a few might be disappointed that the A-Class has changed so much that it has become one of the largest five-door hatchbacks of its kind. Among the European class’s chief protagonists, only the Honda Civic, Skoda Octavia and Mazda 3 take up more space at the kerb.
A more conventional design means better proportions, though, and the potential for more visual appeal. If the A-Class’s maturity as a product were to be measured by how much less awkard-looking it has become, generation by generation, few would disagree that it is now a fully mature prospect – and as desirable a hatchback as you’re likely to find.
The A-Class sits on Mercedes’ new MFA2 compact car platform and for the time being comes with a truncated choice of engines and transmissions. Two new downsized four-cylinder engines, jointly developed with Daimler alliance partner Renault, are the entry-level options: a 114bhp 1.5-litre diesel powering the A180d, with CO2 emissions of just under 110g/km; and a 161bhp 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol motor used in the A200, which we’ve elected to test here.