Mercedes has opted for a simpler and more streamlined range of model trims here than it did with the A-Class last year; there is no equivalent for the entry-level SE derivative of the lower-roofed A-Class, so the B-Class range kicks off with this B180 Sport test car, priced from a whisker under £27,000.

It looks like a bold strategy, given that the similarly powerful BMW 218i Active Tourer can be had for less than £25,000 and the equivalent Volkswagen Golf SV is cheaper still. Moreover, our sources suggest the B-Class will only enjoy a very marginal advantage over its rivals on residual value. This plainly won’t be a cheap car to own.

B180 Sport expected to hold its value fractionally better than BMW and VW rivals, though the benefit is very slight

Still, some of Mercedes’ typically well-supported monthly finance deals ought to make the car more competitive on the pocket than that list price might lead you to expect.

Most B-Class buyers will use one or more of Mercedes’ options packages to boost the equipment level of their cars. They start with the Executive Package (£1395), which upgrades your central infotainment display and includes a few added convenience features – but if you want digital instruments as well, you’ll need to go at least as far as the Premium equipment line (£2259).

As for fuel economy, our test car recorded 51.3mpg at a steady 70mph. That's neither outstanding nor disappointing and matches almost exactly what we would expect a Volkswagen Golf SV equipped with the 1.5-litre TSI Evo engine to return. Those for whom long-distance economy is especially important, however, might want to consider this car’s hatchback sibling; our A200 returned 56.7mpg, thanks to its lighter mass and smaller frontal area.

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