Tested: Mercedes A200 sedan is a very decent, albeit expensive, four-door option
PRETORIA - Among a sea of SUVs on the market it's always a pleasant change to see and be able to drive a good old fashioned four door sedan.
And it's especially so when it's a Mercedes-Benz, even if it's the A200 sedan, which is the entry into the marque's four-door line-up.
Based on the very popular A-Class hatchback, Mercedes has obviously seen a gap in the market with the sedan even though the CLA has been around for a while, but for me that's more coupé than sedan.
Considering its size, you'd be forgiven for thinking that it's powered by a bigger engine than the 1.3 litre turbo-charged mill that delivers 120kW and 250Nm of torque. Yes, a Merc with a 1.3 litre engine. It's a good thing that engine capacity displays seem to be getting scarcer on the back of cars.
It's paired to a very smooth seven-speed 7G‑DCT dual-clutch transmission sending power to the front wheels and Mercedes claims you'll get to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds and top out at 230km/h. Not bad for a 1.3 and more than enough for the average person who will put down the R563 960 for the Style line and R590 135 base price before options for the AMG Line.
One thing that sedans and coupés are more capable of than their SUV rivals is giving designers more to work with in terms of looks.
In this regard the A200 does a very adequate job and although not take-your-breath-away it has curves and lines in all the right places, certainly warranting a second look in the car park.
A low extended bonnet, long rear end, pronounced shoulders and contours add up to an attractive packet, that looks sporty and with a drag coefficient of .22, it has the lowest aerodynamic drag of all production vehicles in the world to boot. Optional eye-catching alloys with 18-inch rubber finish off the packet.
Given that it is Merc’s introduction level, the interior is very decent. Sure, it's not E-Class quality, but it has a proper premium look and feel, especially with the turbine shaped air vents.
We had the optional double screen cockpit (26.04cm) display which added to the overall interior look. At night, if you really want to, you can enhance this with 64 colours with the optional ambient lighting feature. Like I said, if you want to.
The advantage of a sedan over the coupé is a larger boot and in this case 420 litres of space. It was more than enough for my overnight bag, two bags and an art project my son had to complete at home because of Covid's bizarre now you're in school and now you're not regulations.
Driving dynamics are quite impressive although you need to keep in mind the engine's capacity because even though it is nippy, it's not built to race around.
I found the comfort setting best suited for general driving and while in sport it holds the gears longer and revs higher, I was never really comfortable trying it out for too long.
In standard driving mode it's more than enough for the average owner who is unlikely to thrash it but should you want to, the suspension set-up holds up well in hard cornering with very little body roll or funny antics. At high revs though there's a tendency for the engine to whine so I opted to keep it in the higher gears so as not to put too much stress on the engine.
One of the most impressive features I found was the head-up display that gives you almost all the information you need with a quick glance without having to take your attention off the road.
It's also fitted with the Mercedes-Benz User Experience system (MBUX), which once you get the hang of it, is easy to use. You can access the multi-media system via the touchpad, touch control buttons on the steering wheel, touchscreen or "Hey Mercedes" using voice control.
Safety features too are impressive with Active Brake Assist , Active Lane Keeping Assist which if it catches you unaware feels like The Hulk is pushing you around, Pre-Safe Plus which recognise an imminent rear-end collision and if it persists, the system will apply the brakes of the car, minimising the risk of injuries by reducing the forward jolt caused by an impact from the rear.
Airbags come in the form of driver and passenger, driver's knee, window and Thorax-pelvis side airbags.
Overall fuel consumption ended at 6.8l/100km which is very respectable and I reckon on long highway trips it will probably come down substantially.
Overall, I enjoyed my time behind the wheel of the A200 sedan and certainly wouldn't say no to having one in my garage but it doesn't come cheap, so it will be interesting to see how it will make inroads into other offerings at a similar price including its hatch sibling.