Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2.0 A200 Turbo Classic S Hatchback 5 dr
The original A-Class was a bold move for Mercedes as it represented a shift into the volume arena could have harmed the luxury brand's identity irreparably. It had a troubled introduction, too, yet despite this, and its numerous critics it went on to be an extraordinary success, the baby Benz opening up 'premium' motoring to a whole new market. It was a revolutionary car, too, its small footprint on the road belying its tremendous interior space and versatility as a passenger car.
This new, second generation A-Class offers the same, only this time it's a more rounded, more accomplished and polished package. Gone are the standard and long wheelbase versions of the previous car, instead A-Class drivers are now offered three or five-door models.
Both three and five-door cars are edgier in their styling and despite appearances they each offer the same amount of interior space, though, somewhat unsurprisingly, it's more useable in the five-door.
Inside it's far better built than many other offerings from Mercedes, the materials and finish befitting of the company's luxury status. But it's not the styling or material changes inside that'll make the biggest impression, it's behind the wheel. A quick drive and you'll discover that the A-Class is no longer the compromise on the road that the previous car was.
The steering now has some feel, the gearbox is quick and precise and the chassis is now able to be enjoyed by the driver. It rides well and provides decent resistance to roll through the bends, yet it's still safe and surefooted as you might expect. The electronic controls that reign in any over exuberance are now set high enough so as not to interfere with everyday driving, while airbags aplenty and numerous other systems help ensure your safety.
Specification is good across the range, and a wide range of engines exists, ensuring there's an A-Class for every type of driver. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel offers three outputs of between 82-140bhp, while a range of petrol engines encompasses everything from a 1.5 to a 2.0-litres, with a 2.0-litre turbo unit thrown in for those wanting their A-Class with hot hatch-rivalling performance. Whatever model you opt for the A-Class is an impressive all-rounder, it's the car it should have always been, a car that's now worthy of the badge on its bonnet.
For: Revolutionary packaging, smart looks, versatile interior
Against: Not cheap, others still sharper on the road