The Mercedes A-Class is packed with amazing, easy-to-use technology and its stunning cabin makes everything else look old-fashioned, but alternatives are better to drive
If you’re more interested in laptops than lap times, and in having the latest toys to play with, then the A-Class is very definitely your sort of car. Recognising that today’s buyers are more interested in tech than the finer details of ride and handling, Mercedes has gone all out to make this latest A-Class better than any alternative in terms of the technology on-board.
There’s been an A-Class at the bottom of Mercedes’ range for more than 20 years, but this model – the fourth generation – only arrived in 2018. Although it’s a similar size to the likes of the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, it’s an alternative to more ‘premium’ models, such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series.
The car certainly looks smart, with its slim lights and smooth body panels that make it look like a pebble that’s been rubbed smooth after years in the sea. But, truth is, once you’ve seen the cabin, you’ll almost certainly forget what the rest of the car looks like.
This really is a game-changer, with its two free-standing digital screens sitting on top of the dash above a row of gleaming, turbine-like air vents, and with the option to have no less than 64 colours of ambient lighting to choose from. Each of the screens is fully customisable, so that it can display what you want, and they can be controlled in a number of ways. Best of all, this technology is all very easy to use.
What’s also good news is that Mercedes hasn’t forgotten to make a decent car to house all this tech. On the contrary, this new A-Class is a huge improvement on the old model.
There’s plenty of room in the front and – unlike the old model – in the back, too; the boot is also bigger than the previous car’s – although still a little smaller than the Volkswagen Golf’s – and very easy to access. All in all, the new A-Class will make a perfectly practical small family.
The A-Class is so packed with technology it makes the average Currys’ shopfront look like a window to a forgotten era
Last, but not least, this new A-Class is also much better to drive than the old car. Its suspension gives a much more comfortable ride and you feel the benefit of all the sound-proofing, as the car is really quiet on the motorway. Along a twisty road, there’s no shortage of grip and the steering lets you position the car just where you want it.
However, it’s not all good news. Drive a Volkswagen Golf, for instance, and you feel more involved, more in tune with what’s going on. Admittedly, the Mercedes isn’t bad, but compared to driving the Volkswagen, it feels like running in someone else’s shoes.
Overall, though, that’s nit-picking, and the A-Class has much to recommend it. Just being the cheapest way into a new Mercedes will be enough for some people, but unlike some previous version of the A-Class, this one feels like a proper Mercedes. However, what will clinch the deal is that top-end tech, and we think that anyone who sits inside the A-Class will love it.