The latest addition to Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level A-Class line-up is a contemporary compact saloon – a car that harks back to the German car maker’s much-admired 190, the model that sired today’s C-Class saloon back in the early 1990s.
The A-Class saloon is good 130mm longer than its fourth-generation A-Class hatchback sibling, with which it shares its wheelbase, by way of an extended rear overhang and notchback style rear end. It has been conceived primarily for the US and Chinese markets - the latter of which is set to receive an even longer version of the new four-door. It’s quite versatile, too, thanks to sensibly shaped door apertures offering good access to the rear. Accommodation in the back seats isn't exactly plentiful, but there’s enough room for two adults to sit comfortably when the front seats are set to accommodate similar-sized occupants. At 420 litres, the boot offers 45 litres more space than that of the A-Class hatch, and it has a relatively low load lip to ease the loading of heavy items. For even greater load capacity, the rear seats split and fold in a 40/20/40 configuration.
Engines include a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol Mercedes A200 Saloon with a surprising 161bhp, giving it a 0-62mph time of 8.1 seconds. It's nippy on paper, but feels strained if you demand too much from it. Unlike every other A-Class saloon, it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, but Mercedes' seven-speed automatic gearbox is optional and this combo returns up to 47.9mpg. For even better fuel economy, there's a single 1.5-litre A 180 d diesel, returning up to 64.2mpg. It's the slowest version, though, making 114bhp and taking 10.6 seconds to do 0-62mph.
As with the A-Class hatchback, Mercedes has concentrated on boosting comfort, so while the saloon is an excellent motorway companion, it doesn't feel as sharp as the Audi A3 saloon or a BMW 2 Series. There's plenty of grip, but the steering is slower to respond, meaning here it resembles a C-Class that's shrunk in the wash.