Mercedes-Benz A200

Finally feels like a proper Merc

"The A-Class foremost: young and modern"

Mercedes-Benz saw an empty segment for rear wheel drive sedans that was rather special. The whole plan was to have a car short of length, with a front wheel drive system and design that wouldn't dismiss the typical Benz signature but would as a substitute look adolescent and modern. The all new A-Class was born!

Driving Impressions
Earlier this year, we drove the A250 in Dubai for its regional debut in the Middle East. But as always, we wanted to drive the model again, this time taking out the A200 in Lebanon. I dropped by the showroom of T. Gargour & Fils, official distributor of Mercedes-Benz in Beirut, and was handed the car for four days.

As a start, I can officially announce to potential buyers that it is now possible to get into a Mercedes-Benz for a lesser price than before.

So how was the test?

Generally, most people are attracted to the A250 because of its exterior ornaments and interior flavor. Though fuel economy is a major issue around the Levant, I'll tell you straightly that the A200 is doing good business and will in the future. It's vivid and chilly, with well weighted steering, outstanding brake feel and good throttle reaction. The 7-speed gearbox can be used with the stick or shifted via paddles. It isn't that fast, but it's at least satisfactory. It rides very well around the busy streets of downtown Beirut and adequately well on mountain roads. With the front wheel drive system, I expected the car to under steer a bit, but I had to really come into a bend exceedingly fast in order to incite this.

A frisky 154 hp 1.6 liter turbocharged engine powers the A200. It's soft, happy to rev hard and has an honest sum of thump when you push the gas pedal. This 4-cylinder delivering 250 Nm of torque between 1,250-4,000 rpm is effectively bendable enough for people who want to overcome twisting roads in the mountains. Bad and bumpy roads barely have any effect on the vehicle's comfort. So as an outcome, it's well matched to the A-Class' modern outlook.

Inside the cockpit, there is an unusual driving position compared to previous A-Class models. It's significantly lower, less upright and further comfortable. The high mounted dashboard is high on quality, trendy and ergonomically sound. It is appealing, with a classier touch. Higher trim models feature extra options to lift the admiration bar of the innovations Mercedes has made. Even the basic versions get nice handles.

Even though the new A-Class recommends a radically special driving experience from its antecedent, it doesn't set new class standards. It is extremely capable in areas that matter most and will attract more younger fans than ever. Mercedes wants to bait them onto the brand hoping they will rise into the C-, E-Class or the other models one day.

Verdict
If you're enthusiastic and if you're looking for a very capable, well equipped hatch with a trustworthy badge, the A200 will definitely make it to your shortlist. In the Gulf region, the A250 is the preferred model.

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