Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its most powerful A-Class yet – the range-topping A 200 Turbo. Available from October through all UK retailers, the new model adds a high performance edge to the popular range, which was launched in February 2005.

Both three and five-door variants are available, costing £20,695 and £21,295 respectively. Despite its hot hatch credentials, the A 200 Turbo’s insurance group is a competitive 14E.

Under the bonnet of the new car is a turbocharged 2035 cc four-cylinder engine, developing 193 hp and 280 Nm. Its 0-62 mph time is dispatched in 7.5 seconds with the standard six-speed manual gearbox ( reduced to 7.3 seconds with optional AUTOTRONIC transmission) and quickly leads to a top speed of 141 mph, where permitted. But the power isn’t delivered at the expense of frugality, with a combined fuel consumption of 34.9 mpg – and carbon dioxide emissions are a respectable 192 g/km.

The A 200 Turbo isn’t just about performance, though – there’s luxury in abundance, too. Standard specification for the new model is generous. In addition to the already well-specified Avantgarde SE model line, the Turbo model adds a number of exterior enhancements:

Eighteen inch 7Jx18 five-spoke AMG alloy wheels are clad with 215/40 ZR18 tyres; the radiator grille is finished in matte silver and there are two stainless steel tailpipes on the nearside. The car sits on lowered sports suspension to further improve its dynamic handling.

Inside, the appointments are equally attractive: sports front seats are trimmed in Artico outer edges with Zandvoort fabric centre panels; the gear lever is topped with a fillet of aluminium, similar to the rest of the interior trim. The instrument cluster is backed with silver, and the three-spoke steering wheel has thicker padding and a part-perforated leather grip. The foot pedals are stainless steel with rubber studs.

As with every Mercedes-Benz, the A 200 Turbo has a wealth of safety features as standard. Both front airbags have two-stage deployment, and front seat head-thorax side impact ‘bags protect in the event of a lateral impact. The all-round disc brakes are fitted with ABS and brake-assist. There’s ESP® electronic stability programme and ASR acceleration skid control. A tyre pressure warning system shows if the car is suffering from a puncture.

Inside, each of the five seats has a three-point seatbelt with the four outer occupants’ having pre-tensioners. Front head restraints feature active protection against whiplash injuries, while those in the rear fold down to improve rearward visibility when not in use. The front passenger seat includes a child seat recognition system, which deactivates the airbag when used with the appropriate Mercedes-Benz child seat.

ISOFIX seat mounting points with top tethers are also standard in the rear, as is a seatbelt status indicator: when the driver first switches on the ignition, a graphic in the instrument cluster shows which belts are being used.

All these features – in addition to years of safety testing before launch – have contributed to the A-Class being awarded a five star Euro NCAP safety rating, as well as a best-in-class child protection score. The raised “sandwich floor” keeps occupants particularly safe in the event of an accident.

Like every A-Class, the A 200 Turbo has a three-year unlimited mileage warranty, ASSYST variable service intervals and the industry-leading MobiloLife package. MobiloLife offers a breakdown warranty and anti-corrosion cover for up to 30 years – showing the company’s belief and commitment in delivering a high quality, durable motor car. When the A-Class does eventually reach the end of its road, it’s easy to recycle: some 85 per cent of the car is made from recycled or recyclable materials.

In addition to performance, luxury, safety and durability the A-Class recipe includes a generous slice of practicality – despite being a swift, sporting hatchback, there’s plenty of space to cope with everyday life.

On all models, the rear seats tumble and fold to form a capacious load area. On five-door versions, the rear seat cushions are removable and the load floor is double height, allowing the discreet stowage of items even if the load cover is open. The boot has load securing rings, and there’s a “takeaway hook” to keep fast food firmly fixed on the way home from the local restaurant.

There’s convenience as standard, too. Headlights and windscreen wipers operate automatically, the central locking is remote and has the “comfort close” system that can open or close all electric windows at the touch of a button. Cup holders can safely grip the drink that’s been chilling in the cooled glovebox, and convenient ambient lighting abounds throughout the interior to make the A 200 Turbo as welcoming on winter nights as it is on a summer afternoon.

With so many features and functions, and powerful performance to match, the new Mercedes-Benz A 200 Turbo looks set to become this year’s discreetly potent hot hatch.