Build quality on pre-facelift cars hasn’t lived up to Merc’s reputation, with interior rattles a recurring theme – and note that versions below SE ride on steel wheels. For its alloy wheels, comfort suspension, sports seats and artificial leather, SE is our pick but we also like AMG Sport, with features such as sports suspension, retuned steering and larger alloys.

The 2015 facelift brought a diamond-pattern grille, restyled bumpers and integrated exhaust pipes. Inside, it was business as usual, although fit and finish improved. These cars are good value since Mercedes reckoned it had donated extra kit worth £1100 for a price rise of just £350. A major beneficiary was SE trim, which gained a media interface, 16in alloys, a reversing camera and Mercedes’ upmarket Artico upholstery. Across the range, phone integration was improved. Meanwhile, the A180d Blue Efficiency became even cleaner and the A220d and A250 got a small hike in power.

Today, diesel A-Classes outnumber petrols by around two to one. As a result, they’re good value: a 2016-reg A220d AMG Line DCT with 40,000 miles costs £15,000, and a same-age, same-mileage A250 AMG £17,000. New, both cost around the same.

Need to know

Before you buy, check for interior rattles, possibly emanating from the centre console or, on early models, from the front seatbelt height adjusters. These were modified on later models.

The 2015 facelift brought more powerful engines, with diesels now badged ‘d’ rather than ‘CDI’ as before. Most versions also gained Dynamic Select, offering a range of driving and suspension modes called Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. Surprisingly, though, a digital radio was still an option (at a cost of £420) on most versions.

The A220 CDI was Euro 6 compliant from December 2012, the A200 CDI from March 2014. Check the car’s V5C to find its Euro number. By law, all diesels became compliant from 1 September 2015.

Our pick

Mercedes A220d AMG Line Auto: The more powerful 2.1-litre diesel in the facelifted A-Class isn’t the most refined but is lusty enough. AMG Line trim looks stylish and offered the option of adaptive suspension.

Wild card

Mercedes A250 AMG Auto: Positioned a rung below the hard-hitting Mercedes-AMG A45 4Matic, the 215bhp A250 is a more conventional hot hatch and capable of 0-62mph in 6.3sec. Prices start at £15,000 for a low-mileage 2015-reg example.

Ones we found