Singapore - Anyone remember the first generation A-Class? Yes that dopey looking blob that failed the Elk Test and turned on its side. Well, thankfully that’s history as with each generation of the baby Merc has gotten progressively better right up to the current A200 you see before here today.
The differences inside out between this car and its predecessor couldn’t be more stark than night and day. Versus the third iteration, the new A-Class is 120mm longer, 16mm wider, 6mm taller with a 30mm longer wheelbase, which translates to an overall much bigger car on the outside and much more spacious cabin. The boot has also expanded by 29-litres, now with a payload of 370-litres.
The basic silhouette is still there but Mercedes has made it look a lot sleeker, sportier while taking away the strange creases on the side from the previous car. The biggest difference would be the adoption of the slim headlamps that first appeared on the CLS, in fact from the front, the A-Class looks like a miniature version of its bigger cousin.
Round the back we get new LED tail-lamps as well that stretch out to give the hatch an added sense of girth. Other minor details include AMG Line front air-inlets, AMG Line wheels and an integrated rear diffuser and chromed exhaust outlets.
However its the inside that really bowled us over (just like the CLS), Mercedes has really stepped up their game in the cabin department and in our opinion, the overall layout and feel of the next generation of Benzes sets the benchmark.
Its futuristic, classy and yet highly functional. You get those illuminated climate-control vents, that massive 10.25-inch digital dashboard (the centre console half is a touchscreen too) which shows you just about everything you need to know or do and a touchpad south of the centre console for easy usage of the infotainment system while driving.
Our only complaint though is that the two USB ports in the car are all type C, meaning you need an adaptor to use a standard USB plug head - thankfully Mercedes supplies one adaptor with the car, but still a standard one would have been so much easier.
Anyway back tot the cabin, in our test-unit we got the AMG semi-bucket seats as well that provided fantastic support and comfort while looking fabulous. The rear bench is now much more hospitable for adults thanks to increased leg and headroom, it should sit three fairly comfortably.
Powering the front wheels is a turbocharged 1.4-litre in-line four mated to a seven-speed DCT transmission. The tiny engine pumps out a respectable 161 ponies and 250Nm of torque which should get you to 100km/h in eight seconds. Though if you do prod the engine further up the rev range it does get a little vocal.
On that note though, the car is extremely perky at low rpms and when Sport mode is engaged it literally flies off the lights. On the move the chassis is extremely well balanced, we took corners and bends at speed with relative ease, there was barely any bodyroll and the Merc remained planted with lots of grip to spare.
Even with skinny Bridgestone tyres, it was almost impossible to unsettle the ride. We could dart around slow moving traffic with amazing ease thanks to the lightning quick response of the engine and dual-clutch gearbox, ensuring the A200 was always in the zone no matter what the situation. If anything, the chassis left us wondering what a more powerful version of the A-Class might be like? (think: A35/45)
So there you have it, Mercedes has another winner on their hands, the A200 will no doubt be the volume seller in the German car maker’s stable of outstanding next-gen automobiles, it does everything so well, be it driving dynamics, looks, build quality, comfort levels and practicality. It definitely gets an A from us!