We Like:

Easy driving

Fuel efficiency

Road Manners

We Do Not Like:

Start button hidden behind steering wheel

Defaults from Manual to Drive too quickly

Having to use a secondary USB cable


On a recent sojourn to that watering hole I rarely visit, when my taxi dropped me off I realised I had the keys to the Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG-Line I was testing - so I removed them from my pocket and placed them on the bar counter alongside the very welcome ice-cold pint.

That, however, generated some interest from the fellow sitting nearby who immediately asked what model of Mercedes-Benz I was driving. When I told him, the hackles visibly rose on the back of his neck and it was immediately apparent he was an ardent supporter of a different brand of car that also had a sporting heritage with a single letter of  the alphabet to denote its performance models.

Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG-LineFlying cars - maybe one day, but this 'entry-level' version runs on a Nissan Sentra chassis.

His ire came from his belief the entry-level A-Class did not deserve to have any association with the performance arm of Mercedes-Benz, namely AMG, and that it was an affront to performance car enthusiasts.

After gently pointing out the A200 does not pretend to be an AMG model but merely borrows some of the non-performance equipment such as aluminium pedals  from its sportier brethren, he slunk off in a huff, leaving me to enjoy my pint in peace.

Mulling over the tirade he had just delivered, I started to look at some of  the numbers associated with the A200 and where it actually stands versus its opposition.

Priced at R825 559, the A200 has some interesting price rivals in the form of  the electric GWM Ora 03 400 GT Ultra Luxury (R835 950), Toyota GR Yaris 1.6T GR-Four Rally (R848 600) and Hyundai i30 N (R848 900) but this comparison is slightly skewed as both the Toyota and Hyundai are designated performance cars.

With 130 kW at 5 500 r/min and 270 Nm of torque from 2 000 r/min emanating from the 1,3-litre four-cylinder turbo engine it is on par with the Ora and a good 60 or kW down on both the Toyota and Hyundai.

A more realistic comparison would be the Audi A3 Sportback 40TFSI S line (R757 300) with 140 kW and the Volkswagen Golf GTI Jacara Edition (R776 800) with 180 kW that pushes it to the upper end of the scale. Again, both of those are actually more performance-orientated than the A200 and this is, perhaps, where perception confuses the issue.

Rear view of the Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG-Line

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The A200 AMG-Line is simply a personalised vehicle having a sportier look and never actually pretends to be a racy model - which actually belies the on-road performance of  the car any way. It is a go-to-work on a daily basis car with enough on offer to provide some weekend fun.

It will run an 8,3 second sprint from zero to 100 km/h and return a maximum speed of around 220 km/h if pressed - but, running in normal use Comfort mode has a fuel consumption average between 5,6 l/100 km and 6,2 l/100 km depending on your driving style.

Launched last year, the A-Class underwent a number of design and styling changes dominated by the steep ‘shark nose’ and the redesigned radiator grill with dominant ‘star’ along with reworked headlights. The rear was tweaked with standard LED lights

The interior of the A-Class was completely redefined getting a high-quality comfort seat with new, three-dimensionally embossed ARTICO upholstery featuring bright brushed aluminium trim and red contrasting topstitching in the ARTICO/MICROCUT seats on the AMG-Line.

The standard free-standing dual-screen display with a 7-inch and the larger 10,25-inch display take centre stage on the dash and, optional are two 10,25-inch displays.

It also features the latest generation of MBUX and the driver and central displays can be customised to  Classic with all relevant driver information, Sporty with the dynamic rev counter, Discreet with reduced content, three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service) and seven colour worlds.

Interior view of the Mercedes-Benz A200 AMG-LineThe central display offers all previous functions such as navigation, media, phone and vehicle and can be operated directly and conveniently as a touchscreen.

The latest A-Class also received an update in terms of advanced safety assistance systems. With the upgrade of the Driver Assistance Package, for example, the control of the Lane Keeping Assist is much more comfortable by using the Active Steering Control. The  Parking Package supports longitudinal parking and offers, among other things, 360-degree visualisation for camera-assisted parking using 3D images.

Even before any options, the A200 AMG-Line comes with a host of standard fare and is now sized-up enough to make it comfortable for four adults with 355 litres of boot space available - rising to 1 155 if the rear seats are folded down.

The consideration for any potential buyer is to be brutally honest with themselves and identify exactly what they intend to do with the car and what they want in return.

If you live to hear the delicious sound of the A45 AMG engine in rip-snorting mode, then that is where you need to look. If you want AMG styling, ride comfort, fuel efficiency and occasional neck-snap acceleration when you switch to Sport mode, then the A200 will serve you well.

Having had the opportunity to ‘give it some wellie’ around Kyalami, this A200 also impresses with sure-footed handling, minimal body roll and a delightful point-and-squirt demeanour - so, basically an ideal all-rounder in its class.

Colin Windell