Luxo hatchbacks: the group test

The A-Class is more expensive, primarily because this one has an optional double-clutch 'box built into its list price, but also because, well, Mercs cost more. All have stop/start technology, The Volvo is in non-sport spec so rides on 16s, while the rest are on 18s. The BMW is available with either three or five doors, the Audi Sportback will be along shortly and the other two are five-door only. Not that that has put the V40 and A-Class at a visual disadvantage.

It could be because familiarity has yet to take its toll, but both are striking cars. The Volvo is simply well executed. It's not dashing, low or sporty, but instead accurately relays the strengths that lie within. Just don't mention the unsightly row of washer jets across the bonnet. There's more to talk about with the A-Class, chiefly because its design is not flawless. It looks odd, ungainly even, from some angles and distances. You need to step back, take in those flank feature lines, possibly move away from the lugubrious, heavily featured nose.