Little Mercedes-Benz gets an A for appeal

Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a solid and dependable performer with a practical and versatile cabin and b

Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a solid and dependable performer with a practical and versatile cabin and brand image. - Credit: supplied

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class may be the 'baby' of the prestige brand but it is spacious, versatile, easy to drive, has that all-important brand image of the three-pointed star and wears its age well making it an attractive used buy.

Engines – Mercedes-Benz did not skimp on the engines with petrol and diesel for the A-Class. Low-mileage drivers will not be disappointed by the performance of the former, while the latter option offers a good balance of economy and refinement for higher-mileage motorists.

Exterior – A significant departure from the original car, this A-Class boasts a more refined and rounded profile. Its high-rise stance makes it attractive to those seeking an MPV-like driving position, yet the car remains unmistakably a Mercedes.

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Interior – The car's lofty driving position is the most obvious feature here, along with an airy cabin boasting plenty of space for a growing family – folding the rear seats frees up some extra room. Overall build quality is high, although there's a lot of black plastic present. This fits with its family-friendly role and should ensure a welcome level of durability.

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Driving – The A-Class might not be a match for a Ford Focus but it's a competent and refined machine. The raised driving position and willing engine range make life easy when behind the wheel. On the move, cabin refinement is high and the car's suspension copes well with poorly-surfaced urban roads.

Ownership – A compact car in real terms, the A-Class should not be a problem to drive and park in the cut-and-thrust world of city driving where it can nip in and out of tight spaces. It's a spacious and versatile car, with the latter attribute resulting in a flexible loadspace for when you do not need the second row of seats. Strong performance from the engine line-up completes the ownership proposition.

What to look for – With many cars ending up as 'urban taxis', always check for evidence of parking dents and kerbed wheels. With plenty of choice out there don't settle for anything less than perfection to avoid picking up the bill for something hidden later on. Speaking of which, make sure everything's up to date and only choose a car with a full history. A visual inspection of the interior is also crucial, as is a test drive for the obvious reasons.

Model history – 2005, Mercedes launches its new A-Class compact hatchback. Available in three and five-door form, this bigger and more refined version offered families an easy route into the Mercedes stable of cars. A large selection of petrol and diesel engines were offered along with an optional automatic gearbox. Standard equipment levels were modest, but the options list was predictably long and tempting.

Reasons to buy – Solid and dependable performance, practical and versatile cabin, driving position, brand image.

Reasons to beware – Cheaper and better-equipped alternatives available, not for keen drivers, modest standard kit levels.

Pick of the range – A170 Avantgarde SE five-door.

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