Review: Mercedes-Benz A200 Sedan CKD – Cheapest Mercedes but at a cost

Shaun · Jan 7, 2022 06:45 PM

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  • Cheapest Mercedes-Benz in Malaysia
  • Now with rear A/C vents, but without ambient lighting
  • Is it worthy of the Mercedes badge?

Brand cachet can be a strong incentive for buyers, and few car brands possess the same level of prestige as Mercedes-Benz. If you’re looking for a car with said cachet for the least amount of money required, you'd be eyeing the locally-assembled (CKD) Mercedes-Benz A200 Sedan.

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Compared to the fully-imported (CBU) model, the CKD Mercedes-Benz A200 Sedan costs RM 11k less at RM 210k, which makes it the least expensive Mercedes-Benz in Malaysia.

Also read: Goodbye A-Class Hatchback, dealers to focus on CKD Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan

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So the question now is – would you be settling for the A200 Sedan, or is it worthy of the three-pointed star?

Also read: Priced from RM 210k, 2021 CKD Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan (V177) is launched in Malaysia

Exterior - Entry-level variant, but not entry-level looks

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Before we dive into the answer, let’s remind ourselves how well-proportioned the A-Class Sedan looks. Like its hatchback counterpart, the A-Class Sedan also adheres to the golden rule of proportions.

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In general, the rule states that a car’s wheelbase should not be more than 3 times the size of its wheel arch, and its height should not be more than twice the wheel arch’s size. View from the side, the A-Class Sedan does display the classic proportions.

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While the A200 Sedan (let’s just refer to it as A200 from now) does not wear the more aggressive and popular AMG Line kit, the Progressive Line outfit isn’t too shabby either. It still gets LED High Performance headlights and 18-inch wheels without run-flat tyres this time.

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With those items, the A200 doesn’t appear too basic or entry level from the outside. And in darker shades of colours, I’d argue that most people would require a second glance to tell the A200 apart from the A250.

Interior - Manual seats, in a Mercedes-Benz?

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Inside, changes from the CBU model become more apparent. Let’s start with the good news – the A200 now gets dual-zone automatic climate control and rear air vents. The CBU model came without rear air vents and only had single-zone climate control. 

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And sadly, that’s where the good news end. There are now more things to remind you that you’ve gone for the entry-level variant. The biggest offender here would be the manual seat adjustment for the front passenger. Not only that, the 64-colour interior ambient lighting was also removed.

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While it is quite lovely to have rear air vents in our weather, the omission of the aforementioned features does make it feel somewhat basic. Manual seat adjustment just doesn’t seem befitting for a Mercedes-Benz, personally to me at least.

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Sports and performance-oriented cars aside, there aren’t many cars that has manually-adjusted seats above RM 200k. In fact, only one comes to mind – the MINI Hatch, and that’s by design. Every other car in its segment or price range gets electric front seats as standard.

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Normally, I wouldn’t be bummed out by the omission of something as superficial as ambient lighting. But the thing is that much of the A-Class’ wow factor owe it to the interior presentation, and ambient lighting is the cherry on top, the finishing touch. No one does ambient lighting quite like Mercedes-Benz, it just enhances the entire cabin ambiance.

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To add on to that, the fake carbon fibre trim appears tacky. I much preferred the brushed aluminium effect that was in the CBU model.

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The rest of the interior is business as usual for the A-Class; major touchpoints are nicely finished and upholstered, while more obscure parts of the cabin are donned with hard scratchy plastics as expected.

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Space inside is on the smaller side as there is only one tennis ball worth of both headroom and kneeroom. But that’s also to be expected for a car of this size.

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Boot space is rated at 370 litres.

Driving Experience - Not the most cohesive experience

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My colleague, Jason, shared many positive sentiments on the higher-rung A250 Sedan and while I do concur with most of it, the A200 doesn't quite hit the mark.

It’s mainly down to the powertrain - the 1.33-litre Renault-sourced engine paired to a Getrag 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, and its calibration.

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The engine itself isn’t particularly refined as there’s always a sense of roughness whether it’s accelerating gently or gunning to the redline. But credit where it's due, it does pull with quite a respectable verve when spinning in its sweet spot, between 2,000 rpm to 5,000 rpm, beyond that and it starts to taper off.

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0-100 km/h in 8.42 seconds, 100-0 km/h takes 39.79 metres.

My biggest gripe is that the powertrain doesn’t respond intuitively to my right foot. Give it 50 percent throttle in comfort mode and it’ll respond a second or two later, with perhaps 30 percent of the available power.

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Put it in sport mode and the transmission gets overly eager to drop one and sometimes two gears down with the same 50 percent throttle applied. End result is a car that’s jumpy rather than one that’s progressively accelerating.

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The transmission isn’t the snappiest of dual-clutch transmissions, so if you’re expecting a sharp-shifting box, you might be disappointed. But it’s inoffensive for everyday driving.

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Around the bends, it keeps things neat and tidy as long as you drive below eight tenths, which I suspect most buyers would as the body does lean quite a fair bit from the comfort-biased suspension tuning.

Steering is on the quicker side to give the impression of agility, and responds accurately to inputs so it’s easy to place the car exactly where you want it to.

Ride Comfort - Redeems itself

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Suspension tuning in Mercedes-Benzes is as unpredictable as Elon Musk’s tweets, sometimes you’ll go “Wow” and sometimes you’d go “What on earth is going on?”

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In the A200, I am relieved to say that it’s a proper Mercedes-Benz, soaking up road imperfections and keeping them away from the occupants.

The suspension is among the most pliant setups in modern Mercedes-Benzes, air-suspension-equipped ones aside. The fact it's on regular tyres instead of run-flats also contribute to the ride comfort.

Also read: No more run-flat tyres on Mercedes-Benz A200 Sedan CKD, good move?

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Most of the time, the rear torsion beam goes unnoticed. Only when the surfaces start to get really tricky, then the lack of sophistication becomes more apparent.

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Cabin insulation is decent, with the engine humming in the background at a cruise and minimal wind noise. Though tyre noise does get quite apparent at higher speeds.

Here’s what our noise level device revealed:

Mercedes-Benz A200 Sedan CKD - Noise level
60 km/h 58 dB
90 km/h 64 dB
110 km/h 69 dB

Fuel Consumption

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Over a 110.2 km journey broken down to about 70/30 highway and city driving, 8.7 litres of fuel were required to brim the tank once again. This gives the Mercedes-Benz A200 Sedan a fuel consumption figure of 7.9-litre/100 km.

Interestingly, the onboard reading displayed an average fuel consumption of 6.4-litre/100 km.

Conclusion

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At RM 210,902, the Mercedes-Benz A200 Sedan is the cheapest Mercedes-Benz you can buy (brand new) in Malaysia. And to answer the earlier question – yes and yes, you’d be settling for the A200 and it’s worthy of the three-pointed star.

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It’s looks fine from the outside but once inside, the fake carbon fibre trim can be off-putting, the manual front passenger seat looks out of place, and the lack of ambient lighting feels almost strange in a modern Mercedes-Benz. And it’s not all that great to drive with its frustrating powertrain calibration.

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What it does reasonably well is ride comfort and design of both exterior and interior, which just about makes it worthy of the Mercedes badge.

The A200 is what pulls you into the showroom but once inside, test drive the A250. Rest assured, it's worth the extra money. If the additional RM 29k proves to be too much, maybe you should be shopping for D-segment sedans like the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord instead.

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D-segment sedans will have more of everything - comfort, space, refinement, and even power in some cases - except, the prestige. So, where do your priorities lie?

Also read: Your first premium sports sedan should be the Mercedes-Benz A250 AMG Line. Here's why

Shaun

Writer

The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.

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