Mercedes A-Class

It might have been a sales hit, but if the old A-Class faced one problem, it's that it was too dull for some. The upright stance and top-heavy dynamics meant the baby Mercedes struggled to appeal to younger buyers.

The three-door is set to account for about a third of A-Class sales when it arrives early next year, and we think it's the most stylish car in the range. If you don't need the extra versatility, it offers no compromises over the five-door - but we'd stick with the manual box.

It might have been a sales hit, but if the old A-Class faced one problem, it's that it was too dull for some. The upright stance and top-heavy dynamics meant the baby Mercedes struggled to appeal to younger buyers.

The firm hopes to change that with the launch of an all-new three-door car which, thanks to its more angular looks, is aiming for a more youthful market. Building on the strengths that made the outgoing car the fastest-selling Merc ever, it retains the clever 'sandwich' floor layout and premium image, but adds a welcome dose of style and dynamic flair.

There's no compromise on interior space, either, with similar leg and headroom to the five-door and easy access to the rear thanks to a passenger seat that tumbles forwards out of the way.

As with the five-door A-Class, the car has a vast boot, while the rear bench splits and folds flat into the floor to give an unimpeded load area. We drove the flagship diesel A200 CDI. Its 140bhp unit is refined and responsive, and mated to the optional Autotronic CVT gearbox, offers incredibly smooth power delivery.

The only downside is engine noise - the auto's constant drone isn't overly intrusive, but it can become tiring at speed. We've already discovered in our drive of the five-door A-Class that the 2.0 CDI is excellent in manual guise, so this is the model we'd recommend.

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