ROUNDING OUT the top three this year is Mercedes-Benz’s small car star, the A-Class. And although the A180 finished third, one area where all three finalists are level is in build and finish. Mercedes-Benz is no newcomer to the art of exquisite interiors, and the BMW and the Volvo are the only two other players with the potential to match or even better it in this area. The Merc’s on-the-road scores did see it drop back, which is due in part to the A 180’s smaller 1.6-litre turbo-charged petrol engine. With 90kW, the A 180 is significantly down on outputs compared with first and second place-getters, each of which boasts a 2.0-litre engine, but at the same time the A 180’s fuel consumption is virtually neck-and-neck with those of the BMW and the Volvo. The A 180 did drop back to the pack with its ergonomics score, which is partly due to the column-mounted gear selector. Nonetheless, the A 180 is the cheapest of the top three to buy and is still a rewarding drive due to its inherently excellent chassis and suspension set up. This, combined with its attractive appearance and an excellent safety specification, nonetheless makes the A 180 a particularly convincing entry into the domain of Mercedes-Benz ownership.