Mercedes A-Class review - Interior, design and technology
Gorgeous design houses the finest infotainment system available at almost any price
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 new 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 infotainment system – more on which later.
As it stands, the customisation choices on the A-Class are pretty limited. There are only five standard exterior paint colours to choose from (red is the only choice not on the greyscale), and the three trim levels give three variations of black on the inside. AMG models get slightly more choice with the addition of a yellow and a blue.
There are only three alloy wheel designs too, and you’re tied down to one depending on the trim you go for: SE models have 16-inch wheels, Sport models are an inch larger, and AMG Line cars get 18-inch items.
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. Dubbed ‘MBUX’, it features a pair of 10.25-inch screens 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.
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The latter is controlled via a range of input methods. The screen itself responds to touch, there’s a mousepad-style controller on the centre console, and it can respond to voice commands via the ‘Hey Mercedes’ operating system.
The menus are more logically laid out than in previous Mercedes systems, and the various input methods mean that you’ll never find yourself lost in a sea of sub menus.
Perhaps the greatest feature of the new system is the navigation system, which features augmented reality graphics. When approaching junctions, it 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. It’s a brilliantly executed idea, and works particularly well on roundabouts and busy urban streets.
The digital dials are perhaps not quite as clever, but they still look great. The steering wheel gets touch-sensitive controls inspired by the S-Class, which lets the driver customise three sections of the screen to show whichever driving, navigation or entertainment information they prefer.
There is a price for all of this tech, however. The 10.25-inch screens aren’t standard – they’re available as part of the optional Premium Package, which also includes electrically folding mirrors, active park assist, heated front seats, ambient lighting, keyless go and an uprated sound system. All of this comes to £2,395. The augmented reality tech adds another £495. That’s the best part of three grand for the best tech, but in reality, it’s worth saving cash on a cheaper, more frugal engine and getting the technology – it’s that good.
As standard, the Mercedes A-Class features a pair of seven-inch touchscreens. They don’t offer the customisation features or the stunning graphics of the bigger set-up, but they’re still a significant step up over the old car’s tech.
Of course, if you decide that the in-built system isn’t quite good enough, then it’s always possible to connect your phone via either Bluetooth, or smartphone mirroring apps like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Whichever way you choose, the devices pair quickly and reliably.
In this review
- 1Mercedes A-Class reviewThe latest Mercedes A-Class premium hatch is one of the most tech-laden cars on sale, of any size
- 2Engines, performance and driveA great cruiser with strong performance, the A-Class has uninspiring handling and the small petrol lacks refinement
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe A-Class has superior real-world fuel consumption figures to its rivals, but insurance costs are higher too
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingGorgeous design houses the finest infotainment system available at almost any price
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceBoot and cubby spaces an improvement over the old car’s, but the A-Class is still not as roomy as an Audi A3
- 6Reliability and SafetyMercedes has below average brand satisfaction ratings, but servicing and warranty deals are competitive