Technology that was first introduced in the current luxury sedan, the Mercedes S-Class has now trickled down to this all new Mercedes A-Class, even with this A200 which is the starter model for the Mercedes-Benz family of vehicles.
The biggest challenge for the designers was to outdo their earlier best-selling hot hatch – so they took a slippery approach to its sheet metal and gave the nose and tail a seductive treatment.
The final result is good and this is why there is a lot of hype coming from the younger generation of drivers who have the available funds (mostly from daddy and mummy) to take ownership.
At RM227,888, the A200 is more than just a slippery seductive hatchback, it has a cabin that speaks to you – yes, the cabin actually speaks to you when you speak to it.
Thanks to the Mercedes’s “Linguatronic” nuance-powered digital assistant in the A-Class cabin, it allows you to get directions, play music and even change climate control settings by “speaking” to it.
Similar to Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant, this hatchback is the “talk” of the town. The system is called the “MBUX” and it responds to voice commands prompted by “Hey Mercedes”.
This supports many infotainment functions, including destination input, phone calls, music selection, and writing and hearing messages. And if you prefer a private moment just say, “Cancel Mercedes”.
Inside this new A-Class, the dashboard is dominated by the double screen (2 x 10.25-inch digital screens powered by a pair of Nvidia Tegra X2 chips), and a row of jet turbine-like round vents that provide cool air to occupants and have great illumination.
The screens are ultra clear and hi-resolution with great contrast. It updates smoothly enough that they are easy to use against traditional analogue instruments which require less than an hour of concentration to learn completely.
The steering wheel has touchpads on each side allowing simple up/down, left/right swipes and pushes to select each display option.
Customisations are plentiful and if you ever get lost then just press the right hand Back Button a few seconds and it will return you to the default display.
The old rotary dial in the centre between the driver and front passenger has been replaced with a capacitive touchpad which allows you to practise your writing skills.
It delivers a third input method while its haptic vibration provides good feedback for your fingers. It is intuitive to use, and easy to find what you want.
The MBUX system is the way forward, and soon all car manufacturers will be using them.
For older drivers, it is much safer than fiddling with dials and knobs like before as this can distract you, and yes it will take some time to learn. But once you do, you will not be able to drive without it.
With a new shared engine with Renault, this entry-level engine is the M 282 with a displacement of just 1.3-litres working with a smooth turbocharger.
Compared to the previous 1.6-litre engine, the output of this all-aluminium engine has increased by up to 11% and the output per litre by no less than 25%.
This engine excels with very compact dimensions, low weight and high static and dynamic rigidity.
The turbocharger features an electronically-controlled wastegate. Thanks to flexible charge pressure control, it is also possible to set an optimum charge pressure under partial-load conditions.
Yes, downsizing and economies of scale has given this new A-Class a low-emission, quick-responding engine that will impress any driver from “go”.
It may not be the fastest from 0-100km/h, or have the highest top speed (which the law will never permit its use of anyway) but this new A-Class “pretends” it’s quick with its instantaneous power delivery when pushed and has a firm sporty handling added for driver feel.
Yes, there are faster and “wilder” hot hatchbacks at the same asking price but they cannot deliver the whole Mercedes cabin experience and the Mercedes brand image that young Malaysian drivers want today.
Test drive the cabin experience first and then if time permits take it for an on-road test drive.
Mercedes-Benz A200 Specifications
Engine: Turbocharged 3-cylinder
Max power: 163hp @ 5500rpm
Max torque: 250Nm @ 1200rpm
Top Speed: 225km/h
0-100km/h: 8.0 secs