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Mercedes-Benz A 200 Saloon review: Beauty saloon
MAKING the right choices in life sometimes requires willpower. Salad over those fries, for instance, or the gym over the bar. To make things worse, science now considers willpower a limited resource, so if uncovering every last detail about your next car feels like a strain to the brain, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon looks like an easy decision.
That's because sales numbers show that Singaporeans love saloons, and they love Benzes.
Mercedes is still the best-selling luxury brand here by far, and it does brisk business with its mainstays, the C-Class and E-Class, both of which are sedans, and have four doors. As the least expensive and smallest Mercedes sedan around, the A-Class Saloon is an obvious choice and looks to continue that trend, since it certainly has the requisite appearance.
There's the focused look of its low-slung front end and arrowhead-shaped LED running lights. With the added length of the boot tapering gracefully away, it's a little more sleek than the hatchback version of the A-Class, and gives you 420-litres of booth space as well (that's 50-litres more).
Likewise, the interior has plenty of appeal with its two crisp 10.25-inch digital displays and advanced voice control, and there's even a decent amount of room for four adults on board (five in a pinch).
All of that is contained in a footprint a little smaller than a Toyota Corolla Altis, so if you've always wanted a Benz that doesn't look like your dad's, is less expensive, and easier to manage - save your willpower and go with an A-Class Saloon.
But for those willing to power on, the problem is that while the A-Class sedan is the cheapest four-door Mercedes, it feels very much like it. The A 200 model driven here has a 1.3-litre turbocharged engine that makes smooth power while also being a fuel-sipper, but its voice is an undignified drone that saps driving pleasure, while the gearbox delivers the occasional lurch.
Dynamically, there's nothing special about the A 200, given that it handles decently but there is no zip to its pace. It's decently quiet, but the suspension can be overwhelmed by bad surfaces.
All in, for its price, the A 200 Saloon is attractive, but far from a must-buy.
If you enjoy the car's looks, the closely-related CLA four-door coupe costs S$19,000 more. It's roughly the same size but looks sharper and has a superior drive, thanks to a different rear suspension design.
But once you're there, stretching a little further to S$188,888 will net you the original Baby Benz, the C 180. If your decision points go beyond a three-pointed star, then there are good alternatives such as the Audi A3 Sedan. Or skip the luxury badge and enjoy more space and features with a larger sedan, such as the Skoda Superb or Mazda 6.
These choices will require a little extra from your head and wallet now, but your bottom will thank you in time.
Mercedes-Benz A 200 Progressive Saloon
Engine 1,332cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 163hp at 5,500rpm
Torque 250Nm at 1,620rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-100km/h 8.1 seconds
Top Speed 230km/h
Fuel Efficiency 5.5L/100km
Agent Cycle & Carriage
Price S$160,888 with Certificate Of Entitlement