Remember the first-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class? What a clever little car.

‘Little’ being the operative word, because at just 3.57m long, it packed loads of space into its interior, thanks to intelligent ‘sandwich’ packaging, which enabled the engine to be pushed beneath the passenger cell in an accident.

2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class revealed 

The original A-Class was light, too, yet despite the compact length and light weight, it could squeeze 390-1740 litres of luggage space into that 1000kg door-stop body.

Problems? It wasn’t cheap enough to make and maybe too few people bought it, although it did top a million sales during its life. Deservedly so, because it was, conceptually, brilliant.

When it comes to radical invention on today’s A-Class, look to the headliner: new communications and entertainment systems, and semi-autonomous driving. This is what makes an A-Class special these days and that’s fine: it’s what sells, after all, and what customers like is the current A-Class.

Opinion: The new Mercedes A-Class is a surefire winner

So it grows, as conventional cars do, to give more room inside, so it also gains more outside. The body itself is stiffer, which should let Mercedes improve the dynamics and ride quality, too.

But here’s the thing: with a length of 4.42m, the new A-Class is 0.85m longer than that 1997 version. To cram in more interior space, see. So much that the boot is now only 20 litres smaller than the original’s...

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