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.
Non-metallic Polar White paint is 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 three standard 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. However, the Mercedes-AMG 35 and 45 S models feature imposing 19-inch alloys.
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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Car group tests
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 excellent economy figures and solid residual values, but insurance costs are steep
- 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 SafetyThe A-Class has top marks for safety, but Mercedes has below average brand satisfaction rating