Despite the subtlety of the styling tweaks the A-Class arguably still cuts a dash, but where it really needed some fettling was to the chassis.
Unfortunately this hasn’t happened, so the old issues remain. From our limited experience abroad it seems the new adaptive suspension improves the ride and handling, but on conventional dampers and here in UK, the A 200 d Sport still fails to shine.
It’s not bad by any means, with direct steering and lots of grip, but the body control is at times felt wanting. Push it hard on some twisty bits and it leans more than you’d like, while there's lots of unwanted float over a series of long crests and dips.
The rear axle has a tendency to hop about, too, so even though you can now adjust the sportiness using the different modes, this A 200 d Sport just doesn’t cut the mustard like an A3 Sport. You don’t get any payback in comfort terms, either; the brittle ride jostles you about over patchy roads, and then gives you a good thump through the seat when you hit anything sharp.
Meanwhile the refinement is also poor, because the A-Class generates too much wind and road noise on the motorway, and the suspension’s no church mouse. However, the worst offender is the engine, which sounds like diesels of yesteryear as it rattles away at either end of its rev range.
The 2.1-litre diesel provides decent poke and builds speed effectively when you rev it out, but teaming it with the optional seven-speed DCT automatic makes it feels slower than the figures suggest. This is because in Comfort mode it often languishes in a higher gear trying to be efficient, so the kickdown takes longer to respond. Switching to Sport mode solves this issue, but then the gearbox hangs on to gears for too long. There's no happy medium.
The A-Class ticks the boxes from the driver’s seat, though, with smart materials everywhere bar the centre console, and lots of space on offer. The driving position is also spot on, while the reshaped front seats are perfect for hours behind the wheel. Unfortunately, the optional Garmin sat-nav and indeed the infotainment in general is a bit off the pace.
The back seats and boot aren’t as good as in the competition, too, so bear that in mind if you’re often carrying lots of people or use the rear seats to carry possessions.