Dashboard, infotainment, sat-nav and passenger space

As foundations go, the standard A-Class’s cabin was always going to lend itself well to hot hatches. In terms of style appeal, the base architecture starts things off strongly: the same stepped dashboard top remains, as do the turbine-style air vents in the centre fascia and the large twin screens of the MBUX infotainment system. However, for full-fat AMG Plus specification, material quality has been suitably improved too.

Expansive sections of brushed aluminium now wrap their way around the tops of the doors and across the dash, their metallic surfaces contrasting smartly against the glossy black plastic panelling that surrounds the air vents and populates the centre console. In Plus-spec cars, genuine leather upholstery replaces the combination of microfibre and man-made Artico leather on the AMG Performance seats and door cards, while eye-catching sections of contrasting yellow panelling and stitching further heighten the car’s visual dose of athletic intent.

Drive modes can be swapped using this knob on the steering boss, which saves groping around the centre console and keeps your eyes on the road for longer.

The seats themselves are pretty firm and position you a bit higher in the cabin than you might like, but their ample bolsters keep you snug and provide good support. There’s plenty of adjustability in the steering column and the relatively thin-rimmed, microfibre-upholstered wheel feels good in your hands.

Functionality is good, too. There are plenty of storage cubbies dotted around front and rear, and head and leg room in the back are decent enough, at 690mm and 930mm respectively. The 370-litre boot, meanwhile, is the same size as the standard A-Class’s and 35 litres larger than that of the Audi RS3, its closest conceptual rival.

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Complaints? Well, the sheer number of buttons on the steering wheel can be a bit dizzying and there was the odd creak and groan from some of the fixtures when subjected to heightened levels of prodding and poking. Meanwhile, our testers agreed that the column-mounted drive selector looked and felt a bit wrong in a £50k-plus performance car. However, given the centre console is otherwise occupied by the trackpad for the MBUX system, you can see why Mercedes might have avoided installing a traditional shifter.

Mercedes-AMG A45 S infotainment and sat-nav

Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system remains as impressive as ever in its application in the A45 S.

The sharp graphics and fluid responsiveness of both 10.25in displays are big draws here, as is the ease of use afforded by the trackpad mounted on the centre console. Admittedly, it’s not quite as intuitive as the rotary dial you’ll find in a BMW, but it’s not far behind. More of a sticking point are the touch-sensitive thumb pads on the bedazzled steering wheel, where input response can be frustratingly inconsistent at times.

In addition to having satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB radio, the S models get the AMG Track Pace app as standard. This lets drivers record lap times and analyse driving data. The MBUX Augmented Reality function can be used to project a circuit’s ideal racing line onto the head-up display, although we didn’t get the opportunity to test this feature for ourselves.