Mercedes A200: A trip to the Forest

  • Our A-Class meets some donkeys in the New Forest
  • Trip highlights the car's comfort and intuitive tech
  • Larger luggage loads don't fit in the boot though

Following my wedding in late April I’d booked three weeks off. I spent two of those in a nice hot country, but for the final week we’d decided on a trip down to our favourite place in the country – the New Forest. The question is: who liked my A-Class more, the wife or the donkeys?

Staying at one of the hotels down there, we knew the car would be seeing a lot of use as there’s nothing we like more than driving around the Forest exploring. In many ways, then, it was the perfect test of a car I’d yet to properly get under the skin of.

We’d left the A200 at the airport for two weeks, so upon picking it up at Gatwick I have to admit I allowed myself a little smile when the valet chap handed me keys with a nice star logo on them. I appreciate that makes me a gigantic badge snob, but hey-ho.

Since we landed at 8pm, the plan was to drive from the airport to my parents’ place in north Hampshire and pit-stop there for a night before heading down the M3 and M27 towards the Forest.

The range computer said I had 120 miles or so to play with, which is more than enough. We set off down to Hampshire carefully, and gratifyingly the range began to creep up slightly. On the way to the airport I’d obviously been in a bit more of a hurry.

As we headed off down into the Forest and began to enjoy the second part of our honeymoon, it became clear we were both quite impressed with the little Merc. One thing I’m seriously glad about is how comfortable the car is. The heated leather seats which come as part of the AMG Exclusive Package deserve special note – they’re supportive and comfortable without being over-bolstered.

After doing hundreds of miles in it I can also say I’m pleased the ride comfort isn’t as bad as I’d been lead to expect. Perhaps it affects people in different ways or maybe the driving position has something to do with it, but both my wife and I had no problems whatsoever with how the car behaved on the road.

One thing that caused a little bit of controversy was the Pre-Safe anticipatory safety system. Although predominantly only used when you’re about to hit something hard, it has a curious function: when you fasten your seatbelt upon entering the car, the system pulls the belts tight around your body for a brief second. Now, having driven a few cars with such systems, I didn’t mind this. My wife did though. She now thinks the A200 is “a bit grabby”.

What she does like, however, is the way the car looks. It’s a muscular-looking thing from the outside and there’s a definite sporty feeling to the cabin too. We were both impressed with how easy the multimedia system is to use too. It’s an intuitive and clear interface, operated via the rotary selection knob behind the gear lever.

A small issue we did find when picking the car up from the airport was that our entire luggage didn’t fit into the boot. We had to employ the back seat for some of it, which as it happened wasn’t a problem but if we had other passengers we’d have struggled.

Finally, I found something else I love about our A-Class. I’ve driven loads of cars with illuminated sill plates before, but I don’t recall ever actually seeing them in action. As you can see in the pictures above, ours work very well indeed. It’s just another subtle reminder that you’re driving something that little bit special.

In conclusion, my wife is quite a fan of the A200, despite its grabby tendencies. I am too, actually. It’s surprised me with just how complete a package it seems to be so far.

Current mileage: 4,583

Average mpg: 47.0mpg (ind.)