The turbocharged 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine lends the A200 a respectable turn of pace, but it’s not quite up to scratch with the class’s better petrol options as far as refinement is concerned; and that’s perhaps a bigger disappointment in light of the fact that the car’s 1.5-litre diesel engine suffers with a similar major flaw.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with the way in which it delivers its power to the front wheels – acceleration is generally quite linear and there’s not a significant amount of turbo lag – but it’s just a shade more vocal than you’d ideally want an engine in a premium hatchback to be.
Stray above 3500rpm or so and you’re met by a drone that’s fairly harsh in timbre and gets notably loud as you approach the redline. And straying towards the limiter is somewhat inevitable because the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has a tendency to hold on to its selected ratio longer than you might like – regardless of the chosen driving mode.
Just as irksome is the transmission’s eagerness to change down what often feels like one too many gears when you gently lean on the throttle to accelerate from a lower speed. So instead of making smooth, controlled progress, you can often lurch a little forward in a sudden surge of unplanned acceleration, which can be disconcerting.