Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback driving position
You’re unlikely to have much bother getting comfortable behind the wheel of the A-Class. The driver’s seat adjusts manually on all trim levels (electric seats are available as part of the Premium Plus package) but supports you in all the right places and there’s plenty of steering wheel movement.
The sports seats in the range-topping AMG Line models are designed to hold you in place better through corners and also have integrated head restraints. They're supremely supportive – to the extent that we didn't even miss the lack of standard lumbar adjustment, which you only get with the electric seat option.
All versions come with a 7.0in digital instrument cluster and a 7.0in media screen. Opt for the Executive equipment package and the 7.0in media screen is replaced by a 10.3in version. If you’ve also added the Premium package, then the instrument screen is also enlarged to 10.3in and, when combined, they appear like one giant widescreen that stretches half the length of the dashboard.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback visibility
If you’re an owner of the third-generation A-Class (that’s the previous model), you might have found yourself cursing your car’s sizeable blindspots when pulling out of junctions or backing into tight spaces.
If so, you’ll definitely approve of this latest car, because visibility is some 30% better thanks to taller, squarer windows. All models come with a reversing camera as standard, although you’ll need to add the Executive pack if you want front and rear parking sensors.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback infotainment
Mercedes-Benz A-Class infotainment
In terms of infotainment technology, there’s nothing in the family car category that can touch the A-Class.
Even if you stick with the standard 7.0in system, you get sat-nav, a DAB radio and a couple of USB sockets. However, so far we’ve tried only the optional 10.3in screen that comes as part of the Executive pack.
Both systems can be controlled by pressing the screen, by swiping and pressing a main touchpad between the front seats, or by another smaller touch pad on the steering wheel. The touchpad methods are easier when you’re driving and there’s haptic feedback on the main pad to help you navigate through the menus, so you don’t need to continually study the display. That said, the rotary dial interfaces in the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series are still that bit more intuitive.
Another option is something Mercedes calls ‘augmented reality navigation’. It’s in effect a live camera feed of the road ahead but overlaid with house numbers, road names, direction arrows and other useful bits of information to help you work out where you need to get to.
Even the cheapest models come with a Siri-style personal assistant as standard. To wake it up, you just say "Hey Mercedes" and then, in theory, use normal speech to control various aspects of the car, from sat-nav to interior temperature.
It’s definitely fun to use and sometimes very useful. But, like many voice-recognition tools, it can misunderstand what you’re saying or simply not recognise it at all. Those are the times when you wonder why you even bothered trying.
Mercedes-Benz A-Class hatchback build quality
If there’s one thing about the A-Class that we’d give straight As for without a second thought, it’s the look of its interior. It’s more in line with what you’d expect to find in a luxury saloon than a family hatchback, with lashings of shiny piano black plastic, leather, wood and metal in all the important places.
The jet-style air vents, borrowed from the E-Class Coupé, also help to lift the overall impression above most other premium-badged rivals (especially when they glow like afterburners at night), including the 1 Series and Lexus CT. The A-Class even tops the A3 for pizzazz, although where the Mercedes falls down and the A3 doesn't is in build quality rather than pure style; nothing feels more solidly constructed than the A3 inside, whereas there are a few wobbly bits, such as the climate control panel, that mark down the A-Class a smidge.
The only caveat is that, so far, we’ve only sampled the A-Class in relatively posh trim levels and all of our test cars have had lots of expensive options fitted. It remains to be seen what a bog-standard entry-level SE model looks and feels like inside.