It Starts With the Letter ‘A’

The A 200 is the entry level model in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class range. Here you get a taste of what the Mercedes brand has to offer in the hope that it will entice you to delve deeper into the alphabet of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

The level of technology available on the all new A-Class is simply mind boggling and the best news is most of the tech comes as standard, with the starting price at $47,200 plus on road costs; including the very clever Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) multimedia system, more about that later.

 The A-Class 200 I spent a week with came with the AMG Exclusive Package ($3,190 option), which includes ambient lighting with 64 colours, heated and cooled front seats with Lugano two-tone leather upholstery with contrasting stitching in Classic Red/Black, suspension with Adaptive Damping, and dual-zone automatic climate control with rear ventilation.

Plus it had the Sports Package (AMG Line) a $1,990 option, which includes AMG Floor mats, AMG body styling on front/rear aprons and side sill panels, diamond radiator grille, brake calipers with “Mercedes-Benz” lettering and perforated front brake discs, dark-tinted privacy glass from B-pillar to rear and lowered comfort suspension. 

The Sports Package also includes the new generation multi-function 3-spoke sports steering wheel with 2-touch controls in Nappa leather with flattened lower section with shift paddles and Sports Direct-Steer system. Plus sports pedals in brushed stainless steel with rubber studs. All of these additions give the A-Class 200 a premium look above the standard car, which has a more conservative design than the previous A-Class model.

Once you’ve opened the door of the A-Class using the Keyless-Go system, (a $990 option) that gives you the ability to automatically unlock/lock the doors when you touch the door handle, you step into the future of motoring.

The dash is what struck me first; it has two digital 10.25” displays including digital instrument cluster and a central touchscreen digital display. From the touchscreen you can access a myriad of features on the A-Class and this is what Mercedes-Benz means when they refer to MBUX. The multimedia system has been designed to be fully customised to your personal taste.

The two displays can be customised to your personal taste.

The first stop here I suggest is the Owner’s Manual that is accessed via the touchscreen, because you are most likely going to need this to help you configure all of the features on your A-Class. Thankfully Mercedes-Benz recognise that customers may be need some assistance setting up their new car and so at the pre-delivery handover they go through the system with customers to ensure they understand all of the technology and features of the vehicle that they have purchased. This happens prior to handing over the keys for the customer to depart with their new vehicle from the dealership.

First you can start with the look of your digital displays by adjusting the Theme of your dash and the head up display (head up display is part of the Communication Package a $2,490 option). The Themes available include ‘Experience’, ‘Efficiency’, ‘Lounge’, and ‘Trip’.  Or you can customise the displays using the ‘Standard’ theme by selecting whatever info you want from the menus for either screen.

Then you need to select which of the 64 colours you would like for ambient lighting in your A-Class. If you can’t decide there are various colour combinations to choose from or my favourite feature of the whole car, a ‘disco’ setting that scrolls through the colours automatically. My next suggestion for car companies would be for this feature to have a speed adjustment so that you can make it faster and that it ‘senses’ the music you are listening to and adjusts the colour and speed to suit your music.

The ambient lighting options were my favourite feature of the A-Class 200.

The next job is to customise all of the driver assistance features offered on the A-Class. The Traffic Sign Assist system ‘reads’ speed signs and alerts the driver of the sign posted speed limit, but also has speed information stored in the satellite navigation system. I found it to be a bit hit and miss, especially in school zones, sometimes it would recognise that a school zone was active and sometimes it would not.

The Camera and Parking sensors are excellent and the 360view camera automatically displays on the touchscreen when the car senses that you are getting too close to an object. This camera is part of the Vision Package ($2,490 option) that also includes Adaptive High beam Assist Plus,multi-beam LED headlamps and a panoramic glass electric sunroof that covers about two thirds of the rood area.

Other safety features on the A-Class include Active Brake Assist and you can choose between early, medium or late for this. Plus Blind Spot Assist, Attention Assist, and Lane Keep Assist, which has very aggressive lane departure warning system, but the A-Class 200 does not have active cruise control. Once you’ve configured all of those options you then can select ‘Settings’ and adjust even more features on the A-Class.

Then there is the real party piece of MBUX the ‘Hey Mercedes’ advanced voice control system. The system is excellent; it worked immediately for me when making phone calls and took me a couple of goes to get a destination entered, but this was more to do with me and getting used to what commands I needed to use. Long-term owners will also benefit from the Artificial Intelligence built into the A-Class as it can remember your favourite songs and the way to work and will show you a faster way if your usual route is congested.  

I tested ‘Hey Mercedes’ to navigate to my local supermarket by saying ‘Navigate to Woolworths’ and it then came up with options for the local Woolworths stores in my area for me to select from. This would be very useful if you were visiting an area you were not familiar with.

I really liked the dash design with the wrap around line that goes across the dash and along the doors. I also like the design of the gear selector and indicator stalk because they bend up so you can see them through the steering wheel. The new Mercedes-Benz touch pad now has a matt surface so it doesn’t show up finger prints on it, hooray! The other good news about finger prints is the gloss black highlights on dash and the touchscreens are easy to clean with a micro-fibre cloth.

The A-Class steering had a light feel to it, which is good for city driving and the steering wheel itself was nice to hold with easy to navigate controls. To explain how they work for you, the steering wheel controls on left hand side control the main touchscreen and the right hand side controls the driver’s dash between the taco and speedo. There is a button for ‘Home’ and ‘Back’ and you use the centre black button, which is actually a small touchscreen to swipe your thumb  to move through the menu options and then press it to select. I don’t like the all silver colouring for the steering wheel control panel though; I prefer the old design that contrasts this with black and silver.

To keep all of your devices charged there is one mini USB and one 12V outlet at the front of the centre console, two mini USB ports in the storage cubby under the arm rest or wireless charging for compatible devices You can also link your A-Class to your phone via the Mercedes Me app and you can browse the internet of the left hand touchscreen (not while moving) by connecting your phone to the car either via Bluetooth or turning it into a WiFi hot spot. Connecting to the internet is vastly improved over the previous generation Mercedes-Benz infotainment system.

Browse your favourite websites on your A-Class touchscreen display.

The Communications Package also includes the Burmester surround sound system with 12 premium sound speakers (including one subwoofer), external 9-channel Amplifier and surround sound with a total output of 590W. It’s a fantastic system an enables you to really enjoy your music while driving.

The front seats are comfortable and fully electronically adjustable plus heated and cooled (which is part of the AMG Exclusive Package). You also turn on ‘Seat Kinetics’, which adjusts the seat position for short, medium and long journeys. Essentially with this function the seat moves about and I assume this is meant to keep you alert while driving?

For rear passengers there is ample leg room, even for adults. The A-Class has three rear tether/ two ISOFIX child restraint points.Or the centre seat can either fold down to be an arm rest with two good sized drink holders and folded completely down so that long items can be stowed in the boot. At base of centre console there are another two mini USB ports and air vents no air speed or temperature control. The boot is opened manually and is a reasonable size considering this is a small car it will fit the weekly shop and a small pram.

My children liked the size of the A-Class because they could reach everything from their seats. My older child found tombstone seat design in the back a bit uncomfortable, but it was one of the first times that he was in a car without a booster seat because he was too tall to fit in the A-Class with car seat, but he is old enough not to have one so this was not a problem.

For those who love cleaning cars you will like that there is a wide enough gap between the front seat and door sill so that you can easily vacuum it and the 19-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels ($1,390 option) were very easy to wash with no fiddly cut backs.

The front wheel drive A-Class 200 has surprising acceleration from the zippy 1.3 litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine that puts out 120kW of power and 250Nm of torque. The official combined fuel consumption figures are 5.7L/100km and I achieved 8.0L/100km for the week I spent with the A 200 the good news is it runs on 95RON fuel.

There is no dipstick to check engine oil level on the new A-Class, a computer does it for you.

There are four drive modes to select from being Eco,Comfort, Sport and Individual. If you find the ride too harsh in Sport mode you can adjust the suspension to Comfort mode under Individual mode and keep Drive,Steering and ESP in Sport mode. I quite enjoyed that the DCT 7-speed automatic transmission auto blipped on the downshift in Sport mode.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class range has a 5 star ANCAP rating and includes safety features such as nine airbags – front, pelvis side and window bags for driver and front passenger, side bags for rear occupants and kneebag for driver and the PRE-SAFE accident anticipatory system that reduces the forces exerted on the occupants during accidents by up 40% by activating protective measures for the car’s occupants if there is an imminent risk of an accident.

As tested the Mercedes-Benz A 200 cost $62,220 plus on road costs and the performance of the base model bodes well for the Mercedes-AMG A35 and Mercedes-AMG A45 that are due to hit our shores next year. Once you’ve experienced A, you can move on to C, E, and S in the Mercedes-Benz model range.

Visit your preferred Mercedes-Benz dealer to experience MBUX and the A-Class range for yourself.

Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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