Mercedes-Benz A200 MG Line Premium Plus: We tested out the new Mercedes Benz - but had a bit of a mishap at the Nidderdale Show
Cast your mind back to September 24, the date of this year’s Nidderdale Show. By late morning, only all-wheel-drive vehicles were being admitted into the rain-soaked car park at Pateley Bridge. Those with normal grip were sent to the overflow parking.
‘Park under that tree,' said the steward. I motored into the lush greensward. Lurking out of sight was a flat rock, which scraped a layer off the chin of the demure five-door hatchback. The A-Class is the entry to Mercedes-Benz motoring. This particular A200 had lowered suspension, which can’t have helped its progress over the lump of stone.
Most A-Class models are front-wheel-drive and have clean, unpretentious styling. Prices for this Golf-sized family-friendly car start at £31,905 for the four-cylinder petrol 134bhp A180 Sport Executive with automatic gears and mild-hybrid battery boosting.
There is the latest MBUX-platform infotainment with side by side 10.25 inch media and driver displays stretching across the dashboard The digital graphics are notably clear and bespoke. The system can copy the navigation guidance across to the driver’s screen, either shrunk between the main dials, or full-width. There are several usb ports, a phone charging pad, 100 watt audio, keyless door locking, speed limit management.
Perhaps you could click and order, without racking up the bill. This entry model has loads of kit, which includes adaptive headlamps, a palette of ambient lighting options heated front seats, a fat leather steering wheel with selector buttons. There is privacy glass, climate control, a reversing camera. Smart phone integration takes care of communications, managed by very accurate voice recognition. It runs on sensible 17-inch alloys.
Hesitate and you may upgrade to the AMG Line Executive, from £34,005. The money brings 18-inch AMG alloys and body styling from the company’s AMG sports division. The steering wheel is wrapped in softer Nappa leather, the front brake callipers are lettered. Your feet rest on stainless steel sports pedals with slip resistant rubber studs. You sit, front and back, on high-backed sports seats with vented integrated neck support.
Ready to spend more? The AMG Line Premium, from £35,605, adds advanced climate control, illuminated, lettered door sills. Mirror blind spot and door exit alerts warn of passing traffic. The audio system is boosted to 225 watts through ten speakers. You will like the augmented reality navigation, which incorporates directions with a real-time picture of the road system. This makes navigating at junctions safer and clearer.
Our test car was the AMG Line Premium Plus, from £39,225. It had 19-inch, 20-spoke alloys with optimised air flow, LED multi-beam adaptive driving lights, a sliding sunroof, head-up display, parking guidance with a 360-degree live camera. The kit is completed with a MBUX interior assistant which uses a motion sensing camera to predict commands from the driver or passenger by watching their hand movements towards screen icons or lights. It is clever but you could drive without it.
We were sent the A200. This has the more powerful 161bhp petrol turbo 1332cc engine, plus 13bhp of electric hybrid assistance. It a quick car and can reach 140mph to suit the German motorways with open speed limits. It costs £40,805 plus £625 for the metallic white paint, though it looked like any other white paint.
The specification noted the lowered comfort suspension. I noted a firm ride, with the comfort offset by the low profile Bridgestone tyres — which otherwise gave sharp and secure handling.
A push-button starter sets it off. Gears are selected using a slender stalk on the steering column, simply forward, back, neutral, park. It is convenient, and there are also levers behind the wheel to move up and down the DCT gearbox manually.
On the other side of the column another stalk manages the indicators, front and rear screen wipers and the headlamp main beams. As long as you do not get your stalks mixed up it is a neat idea. Get them confused, and you may be knocking it out of gear when you wanted to be indicating. You’ll only do it once, or maybe twice.
The A200 has the same modesty in its body. The panels are not quite bland. The car looks balanced and poised, almost bashful at the back, rather more potent at the front on its dropped suspension. The big alloys with polished edges look good, too. There’s no space for a spare wheel under the boot floor. The space is occupied by the auxiliary battery for the hybrid system
Neat details include the bag hooks on the tailgate closure grabs. The warning triangle is on show and instantly accessible. Moving into the back seats there are storage nets, door pockets large enough for bottles, pop out bottle holders in the drop down middle rest, two speakers in each door. There is just one usb c-port but more are in reach in the butterfly-lidded box between driver and passenger.
The seats in this model are covered with dark faux leather and suede, set off with red stitching. Piano black and satin panels are classy, and offset the scratchy plastic in some less visible areas. Apart from its sporty resistance to bumps — a railway crossing can bring hard thumps — the 200 is delightful. I like the modest, unfussy styling. The face remains aloof to the onslaught of deep jowls and grimaces.
Other models include the 148bhp A200d diesel from £34.420 for more economy, or a powerful plug-in hybrid for low business tax, and AMG-tuned AWD models for performance, plus saloon versions. Full battery electric power is not offered but the company has unveiled a new generation CLA series with a 466-mile range.
Mercedes-Benz A200 MG Line Premium Plus: From £40,805; 1.3-litre turbo petrol mild hydrid; 161bhp (total power 174bhp); Torque, 199lb/ft; Weight, 1.4 tons; Transmission, seven-speed automatic; Top speed, 140mph; 0-62mph, 8.2 seconds; Economy, 45 to 49mpg (matched in testing); Tank, 10.6 gallons; CO 2 emissions, 142g/km; Length, 174 inches; Braked towing limit: 1600kg; mercedes-benz.co.uk