With the introduction of the A-Class A 200 Sedan, Mercedes-Benz finally has an entry-level sedan that many freshly-promoted assistant managers of sales and marketing will pay money for. They won't fork out their now-higher salary for how this sedan drive, but how they feel behind its wheel.
Take a look at the sedan, and you'll see why. This A 200 has all the desirable proportions of the C-Class — the long bonnet with a contrastingly short boot, and a roofline that tapers seamlessly into the tail. Yet, where the C-Class oozes with sophistication, the A-Class panders attention with youthful aggression. The dramatically-angled DRL certainly helps its cause.
Matching the attractive exterior, it will be the sedan's interior that many will transfer money fall for. The A 200 looks contemporary, chic and classy. If not for the large screens (there are two in one frame), the dashboard extends from the left air vent to the right in one continuous line.
The air vents themselves deserve special mention; a well-designed departure from the standard louvres that many car makers still employ. And the vents finished in chrome to bring about a glowing effect when the ambient lighting comes on. There are several lighting schemes to choose from, and each will match the mood of the drive. No matter which configuration you choose, all of them look inspired by swanky clubs and bars.
You can fit two at the back comfortably; three would be a tighter fit. With no dramatically-sloping roofline, you'll find ample headroom in the rear, and the knee and shoulder space isn't too bad either.
Not all is good in here, mind you. The glaring blemish in here is the stalks on the steering column. For one, it feels very un-Mercedes in quality, certainly not for a car that is priced over RM220,000. And I was not too fond of being reminded of it every time I indicate to turn and selecting gears.
The new touchpad is another bone to pick. It isn't as sensitive to your input or as intuitive as you think. The more significant issue comes when you have too many icons on the screen, and you can't tell where the 'cursor' at first glance. In fact, using the touchscreen is more natural than using the touchpad, even if the screen is placed just beyond reach.
Perhaps one would get used to the interior issues in time. Then, it is also safe to say that one would also become accustomed to how the A 200 drives. Powering this car is a 1.3-litre turbocharged engine, co-developed with Renault and not the expected 1.5-litre engine.
Rest assured that the A 200 Sedan isn't underpowered. The engine produces 163hp and 250Nm of torque, which means it will accelerate without hesitation. Power reaches the front wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission, capable of getting to 100kph from standstill in 8.1 seconds, and up to the top speed of 230kph.
You'll struggle to hit top speed, much less 150kph. The 1.3-litre engine comes into effect here, running out of breath the moment you try to go faster than fast. And the noise coming from beyond the firewall doesn't inspire — it sounds coarse.
Nevertheless, the ride is pliant and poised, even when going through roughs, dips and bumps. The A 200 Sedan handles well around the corners and displays good body control when swapping lanes quickly. Although it is not 'darty', the A 200's steering is eager to get into corners.
A proper sports sedan, the A 200 is not. The car isn't packaged to blow minds, but eyes. Even though it lacks refinement in certain areas, this is still Mercedes-Benz and with it comes proper badge snobbery.
The A 200 Sedan is for the sort of person that wants a car to be seen in. And that's fine. Because if you can afford a Mercedes-Benz, it means you've already made something of yourself. So go on and show off a little, you certainly deserve it.
Specification: Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan A 200 Progressive Line
Engine 1,333cc, inline-4 , turbocharged | Transmission 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, front-wheel drive | Power & Torque 163hp @ 5,500rpm / 250Nm @ 1,620 | Performance 0-100kph in 8.1s, max speed 230kph, 5.2l/100km combined | Price RM229,888 | Score 7/10