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The addition of a new, cleaner diesel model has upped the fleet appeal of Mercedes' lower medium A-class.
Dubbed Eco SE, the new variant drops from the outgoing car's CO2 low of 98g/km to 92g/km - a reduction of one BIK tax band - and is capable of an official 78.5mpg.
Merc has made the changes by adding a new grille, underbody panels and lowering the suspension, all of which improve the aerodynamics, which in turn aids efficiency. A lighter fuel tank, longer gearing and a tweaked energy-recovery system have also been employed.
Available only with a manual transmission, the Eco model replaces the current A180 CDI SE. The German firm also claims that there is no change in performance as a result of the eco tweaks, so expect 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds and 118mph.
The new, longer gearing makes itself obvious at low speed and the A-class takes a while to get going, but there is plenty of shove mid-range.
All the hallmarks of the outgoing A-class remain, so the A180 is still good-looking and refined with a smart interior. The residual values for this particular model are excellent at 43.2%, too. Competition is stiff in the fleet-focussed premium lower medium segment, but that figure is good enough to put the car almost level with Audi's A3 Sportback 1.6 TDI 105 SE (43.6%) and well ahead of fellow competitors the BMW 116d Efficient Dynamics Business Media (41.5%) and Volvo's V40 D2 SE Nav (37.9%).
The Merc isn't as good to drive as the Audi or the BMW, though - the steering is numb where the others are lithe and responsive - and it suffers from a bumpy ride (the Audi and the Volvo are far more comfortable). The A-class stacks up well on costs against its chief rivals with its figure of 44.2p per mile.
The Audi bests it at 42.7p (a satnav option pack wasn't available on this model on Kwikcarcost's database, which would nudge up the overall figure), but the Merc comfortably tops the BMW's 45.3ppm and the Volvo at 47.2p.