Conundrum springs to mind when considering the A Class Mercedes.
Just what is it? Where should it be placed? Which automotive pigeonhole should it be slotted inside?
Is it a town car? Is it an SUV? Is it a min-MPV? Who knows? That said the entry level Mercedes is now in another skin so it must be doing something to survive.
However in its latest guise the puzzlement continues. The new A150 comes complete with a new moniker - Blue Efficiency.
This is part of a grand plan by Mercedes to minimise the impact on the environment of manufacturing cars.
Ultimately the True Blue Solutions dream will see everyone driving around in hydrogen cell powered cars that emit nothing more noxious than water.
Until then have to make do with polishing and honing the old internal combustion engine to curtail its polar icecap-melting abilities.
Blue (not green peculiarly) A Class gets a modestly sized 1.5 litre petrol that has been breathed on to offer lower internal friction. You also get improved bodywork to up the aerodynamics; there are special tyres to reduce the rolling resistance; the windscreen is a low weight laminated glass; and a dashboard display tells you when to change up and down the gears for maximum efficiency.
Come to a halt in traffic and the engine cuts out - as long as you keep your foot on the brake. Lift it off or depress the clutch and the A Class fires up again to save fuel by the thimble full. And that’s part of the philosophy; make little changes and it all mounts up.
It all sounds worthy enough but when you live with the "bluey" it isn’t actually that economical. Anything boasting green, sorry, blue credentials really needs to top 40 miles per gallon regularly and to achieve those dizzy figures is hard work.
With the feather-like throttle foot of a Russian ballet dancer all I could manage was an average 42. Clog about normal-fashion and the trip computer soon plummets to a disappointing mid-30 something.
Ironically it’s not bad around town thanks to the stop/start mechanism but it suffers on the motorway largely because of the absence of a sixth gear.
The 95hp engine is torquey enough to pull an extra ratio and the fact it hasn’t got one leaves the driver, again, bemused, particularly at 70mph when it is buzzing along at 3,200rpm.
Eco-mobiles are supposed to be languid and lazy, relaxed and hence frugal, not insect-like and frenetic.
That said the A150 is remarkably peppy and spirited given its lack of cubic centimetres and modest output.
It is also surprisingly agile loving the twists and turns as much as any car, cornering capably and riding comfortably.
In town, it is quick away from the lights, more impressive still for the fact that half the time the engine isn’t even running when the amber light pops on. The steering is light and lightning quick making manoeuvring a doddle and parking in tight spaces a breeze.
A Class in Elegance trim is beautifully appointed with leather trim and chunky tactile controls, great fit and finish and toys including Bluetooth and steering wheel mounted buttons for the hi-fi, trip computer and telephone.
The extra ride height gives occupants and excellent view of the world, makes it easy to get in and out of if you are stiff in the joints and aids when fitting a child seat in the rear.
The boot doesn't look that big but swallows an unexpected amount including bulky stuff like prams and pushchairs and other baby paraphernalia.
So being a conundrum isn't necessarily a negative thing as this particular A Class constantly keeps you guessing and delights with its many surprises.
Model: Mercedes A150 Blue Efficiency
Engine: 1.5 litre, 16v, four cylinder petrol
Drivetrain: five speed manual
Top speed: 109mph
Insurance group: 6
Miles per gallon (combined): 48.7
CO2 (g/km): 143
Price: from £16,364.00Reuse content