Exclusive First UK Drive: Mercedes-Benz A200
Sector: Premium lower medium Price: £24,015 Fuel: 49.6mpg CO2: 134g/km
Given how the 1 Series and A3 dominate the business market, the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the most significant corporate car launched this year, and it needs to be a success.
Fortunate for Mercedes-Benz then, that it is very good. Very, very good.
We’ve had one of the first cars on UK soil in for a week, an A200 BlueEFFICIENCY AMG Sport, a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol with smart alloys, gorgeous sports seats and carbon fibre look trim. All for just over £24,000.
It’s a car that turns heads and invites comment with its sharp metalwork and sporty stance. Inside, the cabin feels like it is from a car two or three times the price, such is the quality and feel of the materials. I’ve been trying to think of a better car launched this year for the corporate market, and I can’t.
Obviously the engine is not the ideal company car choice, but the diesels haven’t made it to the UK yet. Having said that, it’s a decent engine, a little noisy maybe on motorway runs (the large wheels don’t help cabin noise) and fairly slow to get going until the turbocharger kicks in, at which point it will deliver 156bhp. BMW’s 118i manages 170bhp too. But a CO2 level of 134g/km is very competitive, and the diesel all hit the right mark too.
The car drives well, although the suspension is pretty stiff on the AMG Sport set-up, but that’s a trait that has not harmed Audi or BMW in the past. As it’s front wheel drive, the A-Class doesn’t feel quite as agile as a 1 Series, but it’s not as inert as an A3 either.
Mercedes-Benz thinks this car will bring a more youthful driver to the brand, and will hopefully create some loyalty as they get older and climb the corporate ladder – something the previous shopping trolley A-Class singularly failed to do.
I think they’re right: this is the best-looking car in its class, with the best cabin, at the right price and specification, with competitive engines and emission levels, and company car drivers will love it.
If you’ve not been speaking to Mercedes-Benz about getting this on your choice list yet you need to, because the numbers coming to the UK are more limited than 1 Series or A3, and they will sell out very, very quickly indeed.