Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - A-class - A200 sedan
Tech-loaded MBUX system, handsome styling, upmarket interior, practical boot space
Room for improvement
Harsh ride on bumpy country roads, hit-and-miss MBUX voice functionality, overly aggressive lane-keep assist
Suave and stylish four-door A-Class flies the flag for the Mercedes-Benz small sedan
28 Jun 2019
IF YOU wanted a small four-door Mercedes-Benz in the past, but hated the sleek and swoopy styling of the CLA ‘coupe’, you were out of luck.
However, the introduction of the A-Class sedan gives Mercedes another model in its ever-growing quest to fill every vehicle niche conceived, and often not thought of yet.
As a more sedate, mildly-styled alternative to the soon-to-be-replaced and much-larger-than-before CLA, the A-Class sedan should appeal to a more mature buyer looking to downsize or even a first-time Mercedes customer who doesn’t regularly hit up the ‘gram.
Largely mirroring the A-Class hatchback in specification, but also with a larger boot and more comfortable seats, does the premium small-car sedan stack up to a boring purchase?
Mercedes-Benz is touting that the A-Class sedan is the first of its kind, but well-informed readers might note that the CLA is also a four door based on the brand’s small-car platform.
Take one look at the A-Class sedan though, and it’s very easy to see why Mercedes has justified its existence.
Compared to the new-generation CLA revealed earlier this year in January, the A-Class sedan features a much more sensibly sloped roofline and a rear-end that looks more well-fitted suit pants than short shorts.
A more conventionally styled derriere is expected to appeal to a more mature Mercedes buyer, but the argument could be made that the A-Class sedan looks just – dare we say – a bit boring?
Aesthetics aside, the A-Class sedan is built on the same new-generation Modular Front Architecture (MFA2) platform as the rest of the brand’s small cars, including the CLA, A-Class hatchback, B-Class tallboy and newly-minted GLB SUV.
What this means is very similar specification and driving characteristics as the A-Class hatchback that launched locally last year.
Available now in A200 form, which employs a 1.3-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine outputting 120kW of power and 250Nm of torque, Mercedes will bulk out the A-Class sedan later this year with three new variants – the base A180, all-paw A250 and AMG-tuned A35.
However, only pricing for the A180 ($44,900 before on-road costs) and the A200 ($49,400) have been revealed.
Though both A180 and A200 make use of the aforementioned 1.3-litre turbo petrol, the former outputs 20kW/50Nm less than the latter at 100kW/200Nm.
We will reserve judgment of the entry-level A180 sedan until we get some behind-the-wheel time after its launch in August, but after a day driving the A200, we can attest to its capable and compliant nature.
The A200’s engine is peppy, if not overly energetic or inspiring, and around inner-city speeds provides plenty of poke.
With peak power available from a heady 5500rpm, the A200 likes to rev, but unfortunately, the engine can sound coarse and harsh high up in the rev range.
Maximum torque is on tap from an early 1620-4000rpm, meaning keeping the A200 in the sweet spot for thrust is never a problem.
The outputs, which are fed to the road via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, are never enough to overwhelm the front axle, meaning the A200 is never too much of a handful even when flat-footing it through the Victorian countryside.
However, our first test car was fitted with optional 19-inch wheels, which amplified road noise intrusion and hardened ride comfort.
The 18-inch wheel-fitted car we also tested was noticeably better in sumptuousness, soaking up bumps and potholes like a champ.
If it’s comfort you are after, go for the smaller wheels.
Also fitted to all test cars were adaptive dampers, allowing adjustment from Comfort to Sport, as part of a $3190 AMG Exclusive option package.
The pack also swaps out the standard torsion beam rear for a more sophisticated multi-link set-up, though if you are going to use the A-Class sedan for just commuting and didn’t want sportier handling characteristics, you can probably give this option a miss.
Also adjustable in our A-Class test cars were steering and throttle response via the drive-mode selector, though again the four-door Mercedes can be uninspiring and vague when pushed to its edges.
What still impresses even after a year on the market however, is the MBUX infotainment system and luxurious interior appointments.
Shown on a 10.25-inch screen, Mercedes’ latest infotainment system is a real winner with big, bold and bright graphics, an intuitive and easy to navigate menu, and enough input options to make anyone happy.
Drivers can keep their hands on the steering wheel and navigate around the sat-nav menu, for example, using the wheel-mounted buttons.
Similarly, there is a large touchpad controller located on the central tunnel for front passengers, or else there is always the tried and true method of touching the screen.
Our biggest bugbear with the system however, is the inconsistency in the voice commands, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t in our day with the car.
Mercedes-Benz does say the system needs some time to set-up the driver’s profile before really finding its feet and dazzling with suggestions for who to call and at what time based on previous phoning habits and more natural language recognition, but from our limited time in the car, we encountered a few small hiccups.
The biggest difference between hatch and sedan – aside from the 50-litre-bigger boot in the latter – is the fitment of comfort front seats, which feature separated headrests.
We’re glad Mercedes opted for plusher seats as we found the hatchback pews to be a little flat and unsupportive, and after a day driving in the A-Class sedan we can report that our bones were no less creaky.
Even the rear seats of the A-Class sedan are adequate for adults of our size (185cm tall), with enough head- and legroom to be comfortable on longer journeys – at least in the two outer pews.
The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class sedan might not reinvent the premium four-door formula, but buyers looking for a tech-heavy, practical and stylish small car would do well to check out the new range from Stuttgart.
Though the ‘wow’ factor of the MBUX system has not been diminished since its debut on the A-Class hatchback last year, the sedan body style is a smart and sensible – if somewhat safely styled – choice in the segment.
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