Mercedes-Benz's original (in 1997) entry-level A-Class gained notoriety in more than one way. At first, car buff magazines spewed much ink over its engineering design features such as its use of front-wheel drive and the placement of the motor at a low level relative to the passenger compartment. And not long later came the news that the A-Class failed the Swedish Elk Test in an embarrassing way: the test car flipped over while performing the tight S maneuver.
Nevertheless, the handling problem was resolved and the car sold moderately well until 2004, when it was replaced by a redesigned A. Mercedes A-Class cars were not exported to the United States, so American readers might not be familiar with them. As it happened, I once rented one while visiting Europe and found it surprisingly pleasant to drive, given its (to me, at the time) odd proportions.
Unlike earlier A-Class cars, the new version features a long hood, though the rear seems excessively truncated. The kinked sheet metal sculpting on the sides strikes me as being too contrived, though it vaguely conforms to Mercedes' current styling themes.