When is it going?

This month is when the all-new Mercedes A class arrives. It will be a bit longer, wider and taller but significantly remains smaller than many superminis. Interestingly you will be able to buy an A Class with just the three doors. If that?s important to you then wait, otherwise you may as well make do with an old model, especially if you can buy at a knock- down price.

What's good about it?

To put it into a couple of sentences the A-Class is cleverly designed and packaged with a prestigious badge. Very practical and safe with decent all round visibility plus there is a good range of petrol and diesel engines which are economical. Although the rear seats and boot are not that big, the moveable and removable rear seats certainly helps as does the availability of a slightly longer model. Cabin is bright and feels spacious, which is also helped by the excellent view out.

What's bad about it?

The ride could be more comfortable as it seems to bounce around a lot. Indeed, the engines can sound noisy when pushed.You do pay extra for that badge and even more if you demand a high level of specification. It can be upset by sidewinds and rough ground, but at least the electronic aids means that it is a safe handler and the only major disappointment is the ordinary build quality. The interior materials are tough, but don't feel very expensive.

How much?

pounds 1000 off ought to be the norm really. A Class cars are a common sight at car supermarkets and at Motorpoint 0870 1209626 the entry level is just pounds 9,799 for an A140 Classic when the list price is pounds 13,725. Scoot over to Trade Sales though and the same car is pounds 9,499 and if you want the longer version it is pounds 9,999.

Any snags?

General neglect and parking dings. Hard-used town centre A class models can now look very tired indeed. Electrical faults are also more common now. Worn suspension an issue when the miles build up, often needs new anti roll bar links. Semi- automatic gearbox may play up. Just the one recall in April 2001 when there was a concern over the brake master cylinder which the dealer should have checked.


Launched 1998

Engine 1.4, 1.6, 1.7 Cdi, 1.9, 2.1

Performance 1.6: top speed 114mph 0-60mph 11.1 secs

Economy 1.6 39.2mpg

NCAP Four stars