Our test car didn’t have the more sophisticated multi-link rear axle of pricier A-Class models. Not that this is particularly to its detriment. Most of the time, its torsion beam set-up does a commendable job of preserving the premium aura created by the interior and exterior design.

Certainly, when the road surface beneath the 17in wheels is smooth, refinement is at the sharp end of this class, the passive suspension supporting the chassis with deliberate, fluid movements. It stands the A200 Sport in good stead when you begin to apply the throttle more vigorously.

Richard Lane

Road tester
Suspension is dismissive of heavy compressions taken at speed but the car can suffer from excessive float over crests

Steering is by an electromechanical rack that has adequate weight and little feel, but at 2.6 turns lock to lock, it’s quick enough for you to feel the benefits of the car’s close body control, tight roll response and notable agility. Only by driving with a level of commitment few of these cars will experience do you unearth a chassis that is a touch under-damped, but the Bridgestone tyres are likely to give you pause for thought before that point is reached.

In dynamic terms, they are the weak point of the A200 Sport package, generating satisfactory traction but lacking something in ultimate lateral cornering grip. On poor surfaces, they also transmit a conspicuous roar into an otherwise well-insulated cabin.

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The performance that our A200 delivered on the twisting, dipping tarmac of the Hill Route at Millbrook Proving Ground was testament to the calibration of modern stability control programs.

That is not to say this is a chassis bereft of natural poise and agility – for a car that has precious few truly sporting pretensions, it scores impressively well on both counts – but the sensitive manner in which wheelspin and yaw were trimmed ensured that progress almost always felt serene by the standards of the class, even if it wasn’t particularly quick.

That said, the torsion beam rear axle could become unruly when approaching the limits of lateral grip, although tight body control ensured that this limit was impressively high. Overall, this was a composed performance although not quite the engaging one we’d hoped for.

If there is room for improvement (and we’re looking squarely at that multi-link rear), it concerns low-speed pliancy and secondary ride. The manner in which speed bumps, potholes and the like are negotiated in the lower gears can be a touch brittle, especially in terms of rebound.

As such, the A-Class doesn’t take quite as effortlessly to urban environments as it does to more open, quicker stretches of road, although this is a small criticism of a hatchback that is otherwise blessed with splendid composure.

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