The thickly bolstered front seats are pleasantly squidgy and offer excellent support for the driver. The steering wheel has a wide range of adjustment to suit all shapes and sizes. In every model (manual and automatic versions) the pedals are offset to the right, forcing you to tilt your body slightly, which can become uncomfortable.
Unlike some rivals, though, a centre armrest is standard on the A-Class. It is located at a good height for the driver, and doesn’t impede your elbow when you’re changing gear. The driver’s seat is height adjustable, and you can tweak the angle of the seat base, too. However, the gap for the adjusters is narrow, so it’s easy to get your hands stuck. Another bugbear is the lack of standard lumbar support; it’s optional on every trim, bar one.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class visibility
Its swoopy looks don’t do the A-Class any favours
The A-Class has a sleek exterior that helps make it one of the most aerodynamic cars in the class. Its slippery shape is good for fuel economy but means visibility is slightly compromised. The high beltline, small windows and rear screen, and thick pillars make looking out of the A-Class a bit of a struggle compared with some rivals.
Fortunately, even the entry-level SE model has a reversing camera so parking in tight spaces is not as taxing as it could be. Higher-spec versions can park themselves thanks to standard-fit active parking assist – called Parktronic – which includes parking sensors; it’s an option on lower trims.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class infotainment
Tablet-style display isn’t that easy to use
Every A-Class has a fixed, iPad-style display in the centre of the dashboard. As standard it has Bluetooth connectivity, a radio, single-slot CD player and a USB port. A DAB digital radio is an option on all versions bar the A 45 AMG, while most competitors offer one as standard from entry-level upwards.
The system is controlled using a rotary dial on the centre console. However, the menus are confusing; there are several layers to negotiate and lots of long sub-menus. Mercedes’ Comand online system is an option on mid-range trims but it’s not as intuitive or easy to use as Audi’s MMI or BMW’s iDrive. Fortunately, the multi-function controls on the steering wheel are clearly labelled and easy to use. Sat-nav is standard only on higher-spec versions.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class build quality
Nice details but some flimsy materials
The Mercedes A-Class flatters to deceive with its interior fit and finish. On higher-spec models there is leather on the doors and dashboard, and sporty red stitching on the gearstick surround and steering wheel.
The circular air vents look smart, as does the display screen, but lower down the fascia the climate control dials, dash cubbies and transmission tunnel are all made out of hard plastic.
Open and shut the glovebox or armrest storage bin and you’ll find that neither is very well damped and in some areas, especially where the doors meet the dash, the panels seem poorly fitted.