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MERCEDES-BENZ A CLASS

A200 AMG Line 5dr Auto

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Mercedes-Benz A200 - By Jonathan Crouch

Score

Performance

Handling

Comfort

Space

Styling

Build

Value

Equipment

Economy

Depreciation

Insurance

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class raises its game in fourth generation form, as Jonathan Crouch discovers at the wheel of the popular A200 variant.

Ten Second Review

The fourth generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class 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. The engines are all new this time round and one of them is the 1.3-litre petrol unit we decided to test in the A200 variant featured here.

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 gets a key focus thanks to the introduction of a completely new 'MBUX' ('Mercedes-Benz User eXperience') infotainment set-up, built into sophisticated cabin design that instantly makes rivals look dated. There's an all-new range of efficient petrol and diesel engines too, all of it sat on a fresh 'MFA2' platform that will underpin a whole future generation of compact Mercedes models. This makes possible the 30mm wheelbase increase needed to release extra cabin and luggage space. Plus there's autonomous driving tech, a new era of headlamp technology and another step forward to terms of safety provision. This then, is the compact hatch that Audi and BMW feared Mercedes might build. But both will be developing products to beat it. What kind of benchmark will this A-Class set for them to aspire to? Let's find out at the wheel of the popular 1.3-litre A200 petrol variant.

Driving Experience

This fourth generation A-Class builds on the sporty-handling legacy of its predecessor. We don't think the 'Direct-Steer' steering system's quite as feelsome as it was before, but it still enables you to place the car where you'd want through the curves and really enjoy this Mercedes if you're a keen driver. 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 slightly longer, slightly more 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 variants with low-cost torsion beam rear suspension rather than a more sophisticated multi-link rear set-up. As for engines, well the popular versions get engines developed by Mercedes in conjunction with its European Alliance partner Renault. As before, there's a 116hp 1.5-litre diesel for the popular A180d derivative - or a couple of 1.3-litre petrol units: either the 136hp engine fitted to the base A180. Or the variant we've decided to try, the 163hp A200, which features cylinder deactivation technology. That's with a manual gearbox, but it's the 7G-DCT automatic that most buyers will probably choose. This self shifter improves the 0-62mph sprint time slightly to 8.0s.

Design and Build

In profile, this model is visually extended by its longer wheelbase and a sharp character line that runs from nose to tail below the glass house. The wing mirrors are now mounted mid-way along it, rather than being integrated into the windscreen pillar, and the bonnet slopes down more heavily than it did with the previous car, emphasising what Mercedes hopes is a more dynamic, upright front end. The real story here though, is what lies within. Sure enough, it'll be like nothing you've ever previously sat in when it comes to a car of this class, the key change being the lack of the kind of cowled instrument binnacle that almost every other car on the market has to have. Instead, two elongated square colour TFT screens are provided, one for the centre-dash infotainment system, the other for the dials you view through the sophisticated three-spoke multi-function steering wheel. These monitors are both 7-inches in size as standard, but can be upgraded - as here - to 10.25-inches in size if you pay extra. The central one is your main interface for the brand's new 'MBUX' ('Mercedes-Benz User eXperience') multimedia system, which includes hard disc sat nav and the brand's latest - but sometimes rather frustrating - 'Hey Mercedes' voice control system. In the back, a six-footer might still struggle a little to sit behind another adult of similar height but overall, there's significantly more room for knees and legs than there was before. And the boot? Well at 370-litres in size, it's 29-litres bigger than the trunk of the previous model.

Market and Model

As before, most A-Class variants will be sold in the £23,000 to £30,000 bracket. There's a single five-door body style and three levels of trim - 'SE', 'Sport' and 'AMG Line', with an emphasis on the latter two spec levels further up the range. The base A180 1.3-litre 136hp petrol model is your cheapest way into A-Class motoring, but if you can afford to stretch up to and beyond the £25,000 price point, then your options widen. This kind of money gets you either the more sophisticated engine of the A200 1.3-litre 163hp petrol version we tried. Or what's usually been the best seller in the A-Class line-up, the A180d 1.5-litre 116hp diesel variant. As before, a very large proportion of models will be sold with automatic transmission, an improved '7G-DCT' 7-speed unit. Where an auto gearbox is optional - as it is for example, on the volume A180 and A200 petrol models - it's a £1,600 option; we had it on our A200 test car. As standard, all variants get 7-inch instrument binnacle and centre dash infotainment screens. You'll have to pay extra for an 'Executive' or a 'Premium' pack if you want the larger 10.25-inch screens we tried. Other standard kit includes 16-inch alloy wheels and the upholstery is trimmed in a combination of fabric and 'ARTICO' man-made leather. Navigation's standard too, as is a DAB radio, air conditioning, cruise control with a speed limiter, a reversing camera and a multi-function leather-stitched steering wheel.

Cost of Ownership

The A200 in manual form manages 50.4mpg on the combined cycle and 133g/km of CO2, figures that improve to 55.3mpg and 120g/km if you go for auto transmission. 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. As usual with one of the Stuttgart brand's models, there's an ASSYST PLUS dashboard service indicator that monitors engine use and tells you exactly when a garage visit is due. For reference, servicing is usually required every 15,500 miles or every year, whichever comes first. Fixed price servicing is available across the range and most buyers opt for the Mercedes ServiceCare plan that could cost you as little as about £28 a month based either on a two-service/two year deal, three years with three services or four years with four services. Whatever package you opt for, it'll cover the cost of all recommended service items such as brake fluid, spark plugs, air filters, fuel filters and screen wash. It's also worth mentioning that the optional 'Mercedes me' connect services package includes remote self-diagnostic capability, enabling your A-Class to monitor wear and tear items and alert your local dealer to let you know if something needs seeing to.

Summary

With the A-Class, Mercedes sets 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 A200 petrol variant will 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.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class - By Jonathan Crouch

Score

Performance

Handling

Comfort

Space

Styling

Build

Value

Equipment

Economy

Depreciation

Insurance

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class now offers a stronger proposition to buyers in the premium compact segment. Jonathan Crouch checks out the fourth generation version.

Ten Second Review

Mercedes-Benz is a company often portrayed as being deeply conservative, though in fact, no other manufacturer has such a record of innovation. Today, the brand is bolder, more forward-thinking and younger in feel, attributes very much in evidence in this fourth generation version of its smallest A-Class model. This car's now pitched even more directly against sporty premium compact family hatches like Audi's A3 and BMW's 1 Series thanks to key new driving features, plus sharper looks, extra media connectivity and greater efficiency. There's now the option of a saloon body style too.

Background

Want a case study in how to change brand perception? You're looking at it right here with this fourth generation Mercedes A-Class. This car aims to make this famous marque one that more younger buyers could consider. As before, we're told to regard this A-Class as what the market calls a 'compact premium family hatchback' - in other words, a Focus or Astra-sized car with superior quality and a bit of extra badge equity. It's the kind of very profitable product that all the mainstream makers wish they could sell but which is primarily defined by this car and its two closest competitors, the Audi A3 and BMW's 1 Series. The frumpy first and second generation A-Class contenders didn't really threaten these two rivals in any meaningful way, but this car's MK3 model predecessor really did. With its successor, Mercedes has sharpened up the looks, improved interior space and dialled in a great deal more safety and media connectivity.

Driving Experience

On to engines. The entry-level A200 variant is likely to be most popular featuring a new 1.4-litre 163hp unit available with either 6-speed manual or 7G-DCT dual-clutch auto transmission. Rest to 62mph in the manual model takes 8.2s. Next up is the A220 with a 190hp 2.0-litre engine and is the only derivative to offer a 4MATIC 4WD option. That variant sits just below the A250, which uses that 2.0-litre petrol powerplant in a 224hp state of tune. Rest to 62mph here takes 6.2s. Both the A220 and the A250 are only offered with a 7G-DCT auto 'box. At the top of the range is the 2.0-litre hot hatch Mercedes-AMG A35 4MATIC which offers a potent 306hp. There are three diesel alternatives, all offered only as automatics. The first is the A180d, which puts out 116hp and uses the 7G-DCT auto gearbox. Next up is the A200d which has a 2.0-litre 150hp engine. Beyond that lies the top A220d, which tunes the same unit up to 190hp. The A200d and A220 use an 8G-DCT auto. What else do you need to know? Well the suspension is the usual torsion beam rear set-up on most models, but if you go for a variant with 4MATIC AWD, you'll get a more sophisticated multi-link rear set-up. The 'DYNAMIC SELECT' driving modes system is standard, as usual enabling you to tweak steering feel and throttle response. At extra cost, adjustable damping can be added into it. Some of the autonomous driving capability from larger Mercedes models has been built into this one, meaning that, in certain situations, you're a-Class, if appropriately equipped, will effectively be able to drive itself on dual carriageways at cruising speeds.

Design and Build

There's a choice of five-door hatch or saloon body shapes. Either way, from the outside, this fourth generation A-Class delivers a more progressive design with a low bonnet and flat, more angular LED headlamps. The car is visually extended by its now longer wheelbase and a smart character line along the side. The bonnet slopes down more heavily than in the preceding model series, emphasising the more dynamic, upright front. Larger wheel arches housing bigger rims (ranging from 16 to 19 inches) help too, making this A-Class sit more squarely on the road. This MK4 design has a wider look at the rear end thanks to a more heavily waisted greenhouse and at the rear, there are slim, two-section tail lights. It's the interior that sees the really big changes though. The usual instrument binnacle cowl has been completely dispensed with, so the wing-shaped main body of the dashboard can extend from one front door to the other with no visual discontinuity. A virtual instrument screen (of either 7-inches or 10.25-inches in size) replaces the usual dials and can be joined with a centre-dash infotainment display (again either 7-inches or 10.25-inches in size) to create one continuous monitor, much as you get in larger Mercedes models. That extra wheelbase means more interior space - and with the hatch, the 370-litre boot is 29-litres larger than before too.

Market and Model

Prices for mainstream models start at around £26,000, which gets you either the A180d diesel variant or the petrol A200. There are three trim levels - 'SE', 'Sport' and 'AMG Line'. There's a choice of five-door hatch or four-door saloon models. The saloon requires a premium of around £2,000 over the hatch and has a slimmed-down engine range - A180d, A200, A220 4MATIC and A250. Every A-Class model comes well equipped. The entry-level 'SE' trim features twin seven-inch displays including a central touchscreen with MBUX multimedia system featuring 'Hey Mercedes' voice activation. Plus there's comfort suspension, 16-inch alloy wheels, a DAB radio, Artico man-made leather and Bertrix fabric upholstery, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Speed Limit Assist, a Keyless-Go starting function and air conditioning. The 'Sport' trim line adds LED high performance headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, Artico and 'Fleron' fabric upholstery and automatic climate control. 'AMG Line' customers will benefit from 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, an AMG bodystyling kit, Artico and Dinamica microfibre upholstery and a three-spoke sports steering wheel. This fourth generation A-Class is much better connected than before. Navigation functions, for example, can now 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

The economy champion of course, is the A180d variant, which exhales just 108g/km of CO2, while only drinking a gallon of fuel on the combined cycle every 68.9 miles. With respectable performance figures, it's a tempting package - albeit one that in its standard form, forgoes the big wheels and aggressive bodykits of more dynamic-looking versions. If you plan on adding the extra features, then economy will obviously take a hit. The A200d manages 67.3mpg and 110g/km. And the A220d returns 65.7mpg and 114g/km. As for the petrol engines, well the A200 in manual form manages 51.4mpg on the combined cycle and 133g/km of CO2, figures that improve to 55.3mpg and 120g/km if you go for auto transmission. The auto-only A250 2.0-litre petrol variant manages 45.6mpg and 141g/km. 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 A180d model might well represent the sweet spot of the range. On the other hand, an 4MATIC petrol variant with every option thrown at it will lose a lot more of its value over the years.

Summary

Mercedes turned things around with its third generation A-Class, recreating it into the kind of car a younger, sportier buyer could consider. This sleeker, more sophisticated, bigger and better connected fourth generation model version continues that theme and lays down quite a challenge to its Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series rivals. And in summary? Well those who can afford the asking prices and like the driving experience will find this contender 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.

Trim - Part Leather

  • Artico leather/Microfibre Dinamica - Black with red stitching (£0.00)

Paint - Metallic

  • Metallic - Cosmos Black (£595.00)
  • Metallic - Iridium silver (£595.00)
  • Metallic - Mountain grey (£595.00)

Exterior Body Features

  • Metallic paint (£595.00)
  • Solid paint

Paint - Solid

  • Solid - Polar white (£0.00)
  • Solid - Jupiter Red (£0.00)

General

  • Coin Series: AMG Line
  • Coin Description: N
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Years: 3
  • Standard manufacturers warranty - Mileage: 999999
  • Manufacturers Paintwork Guarantee - Years: 3
  • Man Corrosion Perforation Guarantee - Years: 30
  • Safety Concerns?: False
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Based On ID: N
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 23E
  • Service Interval Mileage: 15500
  • Service Interval Frequency - Months: 12
  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection %: 67
  • NCAP Safety Assist %: N
  • NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09: N
  • Badge Power: 163
  • Badge Engine CC: 1.3
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1

Engine and Drive Train

  • Cylinders - Bore (mm): 72.2
  • Cylinders - Stroke (mm): 81.4
  • CC: 1332
  • Cylinders: 4
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Number of Valves: 16
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Fuel Delivery: TURBO DIRECT INJECTION
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Compression Ratio: 10.6:1
  • Transmission: SEMI-AUTO
  • Gears: 7 SPEED

Performance

  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 8
  • Top Speed: 140
  • Engine Power - BHP: 163
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • 0 to 60 mph (secs): False
  • Engine Power - KW: 120
  • Engine Power - RPM: 5500
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 184
  • Engine Torque - NM: 250
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 1620
  • Engine Torque - MKG: 25.5

Weight and Capacities

  • Minimum Kerbweight: 1375
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 1885
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 43
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 1600
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 685
  • Max. Loading Weight: 510
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Up): 370
  • No. of Seats: 5
  • Max. Roof Load: 75
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Down): 1210
  • Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb: 11

Tyres

  • Tyre Size Front: 225/40 R18
  • Tyre Size Rear: 225/40 R18
  • Tyre Size Spare: TYRE REPAIR KIT
  • Wheel Type: 18" ALLOY
  • Wheel Style: AMG 5 TWIN SPOKE
  • Alloys?: True
  • Space Saver?: False

Vehicle Dimensions

  • Length: 4419
  • Width: 1796
  • Wheelbase: 2729
  • Width (including mirrors): 1992
  • Height: 1440
  • Height (including roof rails): N

Emissions - ICE

  • CO2 (g/km): 123
  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • Noise Level dB(A): 67
  • HC+NOx: N
  • Particles: N

Fuel Consumption - ICE

  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: True
  • EC Urban (mpg): 41.5
  • EC Extra Urban (mpg): 62.8
  • EC Combined (mpg): 53.3

Fuel Economy

  • 53.3 MPG (Combined)
  • 41.5 MPG (Urban)
  • 62.8 MPG (Extra Urban)
Fuel Tank Size: 43 Litres

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