Second, we welcome the interior’s show-stopper for the first time: the twin 10.25in screens for the MBUX infotainment system. This dominates your eyeline in the cabin with its rich graphics, mixing infotainment in the centre of the dashboard with driving information on the right screen, which replaces an instrument binnacle.
We’ve gone from two smaller screens in the A180d, to one large and one small in the A200, but now we have the full ‘do you want to go large?’ option. Lovely it is, too, both visually and in its functionality. But worth the extra £2000-plus cost over the lesser systems? Let’s see.
Third, that £2000-plus cost (£2200 to be precise) isn’t just for the larger instrument screen but is the price of the Premium Plus package (£3595) over the Executive package (£1395). So you get plenty of bells to go with its whistle, including some fancy ambient interior lighting, a better sound system, adaptive LED headlights, memory heated seats and a panoramic sunroof, which arrives just in time for the spring. That’s some 15% of the car’s list price on one option alone, so assessing its value will be intriguing.
Saying hello to the A250 meant waving goodbye to the A200, which will probably be glad to see the back of me after I soured our last few days together. (I’ll just say the word ‘ford’ and leave it at that, and I don’t mean the one with a blue oval. Luckily there was no damage, other than to my pride.)
I was amazed at the A200’s easy-going economy, with 50mpg frequently popping up on the trip odometer on my 30-mile-each-way mixed-road commute, I enjoyed the extra agility and fleet of foot the lighter engine brought to the handling over the A180d and was pleased to report the body control improved somewhat with the adoption of a multi-link rear axle, even if the low-speed ride issues weren’t completely solved.
I will miss it, although there’s now a sense of excitement to try the kind of car you don’t see enough of these days: the cooking petrol. Most buyers switched to higher-powered diesels instead of the likes of the A250 in the past decade to get a good slug of the performance mixed with more favourable economy and taxation, but given diesels are apparently all evil these days (don’t get me started…), petrol power is making a comeback.
It’s early days, but I’m enjoying the greater muscularity of the 2.0-litre engine in the mid-high rev range, as well as a useful improvement in the-gap-in-the- traffic-exploiting 0-30mph performance that’s so useful in the real world. And none of this is at the expense of economy too much, with the car returning 40-42mpg on my commute.