Mercedes-Benz A 200 review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

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Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

The fourth generation Mercedes A-Class gets useful improvements that enhance the appeal of this mid-range A 200 variant. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.

Ten Second Review

The fourth generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class is at its most popular in A 200 petrol form. Now revised with mild hybrid tech, this car offers an even stronger proposition to buyers in the premium compact hatch segment. If you define luxury in terms of technology, you're going to like it a lot.

Background

This fourth generation A-Class model, according to its maker, 'completely refines modern luxury in the compact class' - quite a claim. The brand thinks that this 'modern luxury' is now partly defined by technology, so that got a key focus when this MK4 model was first introduced back in 2017. And that same focus continues with this, the updated version which arrived in late 2022, complete with improved mild hybrid tech for all the available mainstream engines, including the one in the variant we look at here, the mid-level A 200 petrol model.

Driving Experience

With this updated A 200, probably the most significant change is the addition of the brand's 48V mild hybrid system including the usual MHEV belt-driven starter-generator: that'll give you a 13hp boost when moving off. As before, the A 200 uses the 163hp version of the brand's Renault-derived 1.4-litre four cylinder petrol powerplant, a unit also available in de-tuned 136hp form in the cheaper A 180 derivative. Both versions of this powerplant must be had with 7-speed 7G-DCT auto transmission. The alternative is the A 200 diesel, which uses a 2.0-litre powerplant in a 150hp state of tune and must be had with 8-speed 8G-DCT auto transmission.

What else do you need to know? Well there's the brand's familiar 'DYNAMIC SELECT' driving modes system as standard, as usual enabling you to tweak steering feel and throttle response. Some of the autonomous driving capability from larger Mercedes models has been built into this one, meaning that, in certain situations, your A-Class, if appropriately equipped, will effectively be able to drive itself on dual carriageways at cruising speeds.

Through the turns, body roll's kept well in check and you're favoured with prodigious grip that's impressively untroubled by mid-corner bumps. Thanks partly to this model's sophisticated MFA2 platform, ride quality is a match for the premium segment competition - but could be better. And would have been had Mercedes not decided to equip all mainstream A-Class variants with low-cost torsion beam rear suspension rather than a more sophisticated multi-link rear set-up.

Design and Build

As before, there's a choice of five-door hatch or saloon body shapes. And you have to look very closely to see the facelift update changes - a pair of power bulges in the low bonnet, a revised front bumper design and a smarter star-pattern radiator grille. The angular LED High Performance headlamps are also flatter. And the 'AMG Line' trim levels that almost everyone chooses get a revised rear diffuser. As before, large wheel arches house big rims (ranging from 16 to 19 inches) that sit this A-Class squarely on the road. Also as before, this MK4 design has a wide look at the rear end thanks to a heavily waisted greenhouse and at the back, there are slim, two-section tail lights.

It doesn't look much different inside either, though Mercedes has updated the steering wheel (trimmed in soft Nappa leather), revised the 'comfort' seat design of more affordable models and added a standard reversing camera, along with an extra USB-C port with a higher charging capacity. More significantly, the MBUX infotainment system has been updated and can now be ordered with fingerprint sensor access. It also gains more advanced speech recognition and wireless 'Apple CarPlay'/'Android Auto' smartphone-mirroring. And there are three fresh screen display styles - ''Classic', 'Sporty' and 'Discreet'.

Otherwise, it's as you were. Which means that you get a 10.25-inch centre-dash infotainment display which, above base trim, is joined with a 10.25-inch virtual instrument screen to create one continuous monitor, much as you get in larger Mercedes models. This fourth generation model's relatively lengthy wheelbase means decent interior space - and with the hatch, the 370-litre boot is very class-competitive too. It's 420-litres for the Saloon variant.

Market and Model

The A 200 costs £1,550 more than the A 180 entry-level model with a detuned version of the same 1.3-litre four cylinder petrol engine. Which means starting prices beginning from just under £33,500 for the hatch version: it's £595 more for the alternative Saloon body style. Auto transmission is standard and there are four trim levels - 'Sport Executive', 'AMG Line Executive', 'AMG Line Premium' and 'AMG Line Premium Plus'. This updated model now offers a wider choice of paint colours and interior trimming options. And the 'Parking Package' many customers want has been improved, now supporting longitudinal self-parking and offering a 360-degree camera system with 3D visualisation modes. Plus the Driver Assistance Package has been updated with better Active Steering Control.

As you'd want for the money, every A 200 model comes well equipped. All variants get a 10.25-inch central touchscreen with a MBUX multimedia system featuring 'Hey Mercedes' voice activation. There's a 10.25-inch instrument cluster screen too. Plus there are 17-inch alloy wheels, Artico man-made leather upholstery, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Speed Limit Assist, LED High Performance headlights and a wireless 'phone charging mat.

This improved fourth generation A-Class is of course very well connected. Navigation functions, for example, can be based on traffic feedback from so-called 'Car-to-X communication' where information gets fed in from other similarly-equipped road users. As usual, there's a dowloadable 'Mercedes Me' app that connects you into your car and can tell you things like local fuel prices or the availability of parking spaces at your destination.

Cost of Ownership

Let's get to the WLTP figures. As usual with mild hybrid tech, don't get your hopes up too high for the difference it'll make: full-Hybrid and powertrains in rivals cost more for a reason (namely that unlike MHEVs, they allow the engine to run fully electrically). Anyway, the A 200 (like the A 180) manages up to 47.9mpg on the combined cycle and up to 133g/km of CO2. For reference, the alternative A 200d diesel variant exhales up to 130g/km of CO2, while only drinking a gallon of fuel on the combined cycle every 57.7 miles.

The warranty may be an industry standard 3 years but is for unlimited miles, handy to know if you spend a lot of time on the road. Just remember that a mid-range diesel is the sensible option for high resale figures. With that in mind, something like a mid-spec A 200d model might well represent the sweet spot of the range. On the other hand, a Mercedes-AMG 4MATIC petrol variant with every option thrown at it will lose a lot more of its value over the years.

Summary

The updates that have created this revised A 200 aren't significant enough to persuade you towards one if that wasn't already your intention. But if you've had your eye on this mid-level petrol A-Class model for some time, there's now a new reason to try it. With the A-Class, Mercedes has always set out to distil all that's exciting, fresh and modern about its brand into one dynamically compact premium package - and the sales figures seem to suggest that it's succeeded. We think this A 200 petrol variant will continue to be a popular choice in the range.

And in summary? Well you're probably aware that most German models require you to spend plenty if you're going to experience all they have to offer: that's even more the case with this one. Without the fancy larger interior screens, this A-Class lacks a bit of its showroom uniqueness, a selling point that's vital for this car to have in the face of renewed competition from BMW, Audi and Volvo in this segment. Even so, those who can afford the asking prices will find this hatch sporty, self-assured and possessed of a feel-good factor that really does make you feel special if you've specced your chosen variant correctly. Which is exactly what owning a car of this kind should be all about.

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