Mercedes-Benz introduced its first generation A-class to the world in 1997. Initially derided by enthusiasts for its inferior quality and a surprising ability to rollover in certain conditions (such as the infamous 'Moose Test'), the car still went on to sell over 1.5 million units worldwide.

The second-gen model, unveiled in June 2004, seems to have followed in the success of its sibling by already having sold 500,000 units. Interestingly, these figures were achieved despite the addition of the B-class to the range, which many owners of the previous A-class LWB model would have opted for.

To date, Mercedes has chosen not to sell the car in the US and Canadian markets. “There is no sense in bringing this type of vehicle to America if Americans don t want it,” says A-class development chief, Jörg Prigl. Indeed, Mercedes may decide to drop the model altogether in 2011 and go with three separate models targeting the low-end premium market.