What is it?
It’s the updated Mercedes A-class diesel that gets more power and some cosmetic tweaks too. It’s now called the A200 CDI and replaces the older A180 CDI. The biggest change is that the 2.1-litre diesel engine is now tuned to make a good 134bhp (the same as in the GLA SUV) instead of the modest 107bhp of the A180 CDI. Along with the more powerful motor, the A200 CDI gets new 16-inch alloy wheels anda panoramic sunroof as standard. Since this isn’t a facelift, the exteriors remain unchanged.
Inside, the dashboard gets mild tweaks with all-black dials and the dimpled grip on the steering has been swapped for soft leather. Disappointingly though, the low-resolution COMAND screen has been carried over from the older car and looks a bit out of place in an otherwise plush and well-executed cabin. The A200 CDI is available in only the top Sport trim and is quite well equipped. So, you get a reversing camera, Bluetooth telephony and audio, USB, electric adjust for both front seats, panoramic sunroof and six airbags.
What’s it like to drive?
The added 27bhp and 5.1kgm of torque on the A200 CDI are immediately evident from behind the wheel. Flat out, the A200 CDI will hit 100kph in just a shade above 9 seconds, that's about 2 whole seconds quicker than the older A180 CDI. Also, the motor pulls more cleanly to the 4,800rpm redline and the crisper part-throttle response (especially in Sport mode) makes it much nicer to drive in an everyday setting. The motor feels its strongest between 2,000 to 3,500rpm and though there isn’t much turbo lag to speak of, there is a bit of hesitation at speeds lower than 1,500rpm but that’s largely down to the gearbox. That’s because, the seven-speed automatic, though a smooth shifting unit, is slightly slow to swap cogs.
Mercedes had softened the suspension a bit and increased the ride height of the A-class for the A-class ‘Edition 1’ back in June 2014. The new A200 CDI continues with that setup. The A200 CDI rides quite flat and this makes the Mercedes feel rock solid at highway speeds. Body control is good too and the A-class doesn’t roll much even when you enter corners a bit quickly. The downside of the slightly stiff setup is that sharper bumps do tend to crash into the cabin if you don’t slow down sufficiently. That said, over most undulations, the ride is sufficiently cushioned and the suspension, silent.
Should I buy one?
While the A-class has always looked very striking, the tepid performance of the diesel car was a bit disappointing. Now with more firepower under the hood, the A-class’ performance feels more in sync with the car’s sporty avatar. The A200 CDI rides well and the interiors feel quite special too. We would have loved to see better software and resolution on the infotainment screen but that is likely to happen only when the facelifted A-class hits our shores next year.
The A200 CDI is priced at Rs 26.95 lakh (ex-showroom, Mumbai) making it around Rs 1 lakh more expensive than the equivalent A180 CDI it replaces and the marginally higher price feels well worth it.