The progressive metamorphosis of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, from a cleverly packaged box on wheels into a conventionally formed luxury hatch, is no doubt one of calculated execution.
Not only has it seen the original ‘baby Benz’ become increasingly competitive against the established premium hatchback set, but the transformation has also granted its previously unloved more practical sibling - the Mercedes-Benz B-Class - some much-needed breathing room, allowing it to fashion itself a more distinct, confident identity within Mercedes' small-car line-up.
The original B-Class of 2005 was, in essence, an extended version of the second-generation A-Class. But as the contemporary A-Class offered a comparatively superior drive with only a small compromise on cabin space, the ill-proportioned B-Class fell flat with critics and buyers alike.
In 2011, the second generation of this compact MPV gained a new platform (later shared with the third-generation A-Class), a boost in premium appeal, a more coherent exterior design and even greater interior versatility. Unfortunately, unimpressive road manners and poor refinement were arrows to its Achilles heel.
Now the B-Class is back for a third generation. And while the mechanical similarities to its hatchback sibling are as strong as ever, the chances of that relationship bearing fruit have never been so promising. To say the fourth-generation A-Class is the most convincing iteration of the breed we’ve seen in its 22-year history is no overstatement.