A MERCEDES-BENZ car has always been about desirability as much as anything else.

Who can forget Janis Joplin imploring “Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?” on her bluesy acapella song that was to become part of a TV advertising campaign for the brand despite its original message about the illusory happiness promised by the pursuit of worldly goods.

But Mercedes had a problem. The entry-level and therefore cheapest of its vast stable of models back in the 1990s was a very undesirable A Class. Anyone aspiring to get on the Merc ladder might have turned around on the first rung.

It was only when Mercedes reinvented the baby Benz that it started to pull on heart strings.

But more than that, it went on to become a top ten seller in the UK, introducing a whole new generation of would-be Mercedes buyers to the brand.

With a starting price of more than £22,000, it is reassuringly expensive. Particularly when you consider that many buyers will opt for the AMG version with seven-speed automatic transmission.

Which brings me to the test car, the petrol-powered A 200 AMG Line, which I suspect will be the model that has the strongest appeal.

The 1.3-litre engine delivers 163hp and will propel the car from 0 to 62mph in a respectable 8.0 seconds. In addition, fuel economy should average around the 53mpg mark and CO2 emissions are quite low at 123g/km.

There are even finishing touches from the flagship S Class, including a steering wheel with touchpads and a digital cockpit display. You certainly don’t have to buy big to get sumptuous.

There’s the usual Merc quirks such as the drive selector on the steering wheel stalk and heated seat buttons in the door frame rather than on the centre console, but everything else is as it should be and both looking and feeling good.

So how is this latest generation even more desirable? Well, its 14mm wider for starters, to give you a little more elbow room, and longer by 30mm to provide a little extra leg and luggage space.

Its more efficient, too, but the deal clincher for many will come when you are behind the steering wheel and check out the now standard MBUX user experience with a touchscreen interface – a first for Mercedes-Benz – which ties in with ‘Hey Mercedes’ intelligent voice recognition

A couple of seven-inch infotainment screens also come as, while one or two 10.25-inch screens are optional through Executive, Premium or Premium Plus equipment lines.

One big reason for the sales success of the A Class is that extra room, which negates the temptation to go for something in a larger class and has also provided more head room and easier access to the rear seats.

The A 180d SE kicks off the range at £25,800, while the petrol-powered A 200 starts at £27,500, and two new diesels - the A 200 d Sport (£28,805) and the A 220 d AMG Line at about £30,000 – have recently been add to the line-up.

There are three three trims - SE, Sport and AMG Line – and all come with the excellent seven-speed automatic gearbox.

You can even choose a saloon version now, and then there’s the formidable A 45 and A 35 AMG versions for those who like a little more poke with their luxury.

Every model comes packed with a high specification as standard. The entry-level SE features the aforementioned tech, plus comfort suspension; 16-inch alloy wheels; DAB radio; leather and fabric upholstery, active lane keeping assist, speed limit assist, keyless-go starting function; and air conditioning.

You might be tempted to upgrade to the Sport trim line, which adds LED high performance headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, Artico and Fléron fabric upholstery and automatic climate control.

You will be very tempted to choose the AMG Line, which gains 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, AMG bodystyling; Artico and Dinamica microfibre upholstery and and a three-spoke sports steering wheel.

On top of these trim levels, your little heart might desire one of four packs available as options.

The Executive equipment package costs £1,395 and upgrades the standard seven-inch central touchscreen media display to a 10.25-inch item, as well as adding active parking assist with parktronic, heated front seats and Mirror package.

For £2,395, customers can specify the Premium equipment line which, in addition to the Executive line, adds a 10.25-inch cockpit display, 64-colour ambient lighting, illuminated door sills; keyless-go, upgraded sound system and rear armrest.

The Premium Plus equipment line includes the Premium and Executive lines, and adds memory function for the driver and front passenger seats; multibeam LED head lights with adaptive high beam assist plus and a panoramic sunroof.

The Advanced Navigation package introduces augmented reality into the onboard satellite navigation. Using a camera located at the top of the windscreen, the infotainment screen overlays the navigation display with the actual road ahead, making for clearer, more obvious navigation. The package includes traffic sign assist which automatically reads road signs, making sure the driver is always aware of the current speed limit. The package costs £495 and is only available in conjunction with the Executive, Premium or Premium Plus equipment lines.

The A 200 tested here is powered by a 1.4-litre petrol engine with an output of 163 hp. It can deliver up to 51.4mpg, and will therefore suit not only those looking for some spirit in the performance but also customers with an eye on fuel economy.

But I suspect that it is desire more than anything else that will drive you to the showroom door.


Mercedes-Benz A 200 AMG Line

Price: from £28,700

Engine: Four-cylinder 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol, producing 163hp

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 8.0 seconds; top speed 139mph

Economy: 53.3mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 123g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****