Mercedes A-Class review - Interior, design and technology
Gorgeous design and a smart, sophisticated interior make the A-Class an appealing choice
The fourth-generation A-Class sports a design which amounts to a fairly conservative evolution over the old model. It’s a bit sharper to look at while the lights are pointier and slimmer. The hot AMG versions get a sporty body kit and a lairy wing, but overall it’s a look which will neither set pulses racing nor put off existing customers.
The big changes come on the inside. The latest model is a huge leap forward over the tidy, yet slightly cheap-feeling predecessor. The design is unique, attractive, well-laid out and feels immaculately put together with lots of soft-touch plastics. It all adds up to a cabin which makes the previous class design benchmark, the Audi A3, look rather old-hat overnight. The giant leap forward in appearance, however, is thanks in no small part to its fantastic dual-screen MBUX infotainment system – more on that later.
Non-metallic Polar White and Night Black paint hues are standard for the A-Class range, with a handful of other exterior colours available. However, there's not much in the way of other opportunities to personalise your car.
There are only four standard alloy wheel designs too, and you’re tied down to one depending on the trim you go for: Sport Executive versions feature a 17-inch five-spoke wheel design, while AMG Line Executive and AMG Line Premium cars get 18-inch five-twin-spoke rims. Top-of-the-range AMG Line Premium Plus models ride on 19-inch alloy wheels, as do the Mercedes-AMG 35 and 45 S models.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
It only takes a few seconds gawping at the A-Class’s infotainment system to realise that it’s head and shoulders above any rival system. Called ‘MBUX’, all models now feature a pair of 10.25-inch screens positioned side-by-side for an almost continuous widescreen display: the screen in front of the driver shows various driving information and data, while the central display caters for the infotainment functions.
The main menu has three large widgets for phone connectivity, navigation and audio functions. Swiping through them is slick – not quite smartphone fast, but still responsive. Meanwhile, loading times are fine, but the navigation system speed is pegged back by loading three routes at once. It would be quicker if it started with the optimum route, then provided alternatives.
The screen itself has an excellent resolution, though, so Apple CarPlay and Android Auto look sharp. The driver’s screen is just as good. It’s in effect split into three, allowing the driver to show the trip, navigation or driving functions in a number of combinations.
The steering wheel also gets touch-sensitive controls like those found in the flagship S-Class, while higher-spec models feature augmented-reality navigation. When approaching junctions, the system displays images from a forward-facing camera onto the screen, and in real time superimposes arrows onto the display which inform the driver of the turning they need to take.
In this review
- 1Mercedes A-Class reviewThe Mercedes A-Class is a premium hatch that is full of quality, with great on-board technology and a range of frugal engines
- 2Engines, performance and driveA great cruiser with strong performance, but the A-Class has uninspiring handling and the small petrol lacks refinement
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsThe A-Class has excellent economy figures and solid residual values, but insurance costs are steep
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingGorgeous design and a smart, sophisticated interior make the A-Class an appealing choice
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBoot and cubby spaces are an improvement over the old car’s, but the A-Class is still not as roomy as an Audi A3
- 6Reliability and safetyThe A-Class gets top marks for safety, but servicing costs are more expensive compared to some rivals