My first task at the Shanghai motor show was to go to the big bang unveiling of the Mercedes A-class concept at the 92 floor World Financial Centre.

Interesting that Merc chose to launch what will replace its smallest car in a place where it sells the bulk of its big saloons. But it's yet another indicator of just how important this market is to Europe's upscale marques.

The concept itself looked smart I thought. Yes there's a sense of regret that it's far more conventional than its predecessor both technically and proportionally. But it will eventually spawn a family of models: sportier three door, saloon and a small sports car too.

This show car, we are told, is eerily close to the three door production car. Although I'd be amazed if the real thing wasn't toned down a little, with a slightly higher roofline. Nevertheless it will still look good and, crucially for Benz, should still provide competition for the leagues of posh hatches that have arrived since the 1997 original. For all of its cleverness, that one and the current A-class have never hit the spot with buyers in the way they deserved to.

This one could and should change that on the evidence of this concept.