Along with those engines and manual gearboxes, Mercedes has also junked the A-Class’s old SE trim level. This has brought greater consistency to the look and feel of a cabin that continues to strike a fairly high standard for material richness, technological sophistication and perceived quality.
There is now no A-Class you can buy in the UK without Merc’s twin-10.3in-display MBUX infotainment console. Because there is no longer a manual gearbox and the revised infotainment has no physical input controller on the transmission tunnel, Mercedes has redesigned the centre console for a neater look, adding a shallow tray. Between that and the lidded cubbies behind and in front of it, there are now plenty of places into which to empty your pockets or stow a hot drink.
Mercedes is also beefing up the A-Class’s standard equipment by chucking in its seat comfort package for free on all models. This adds cushion height adjustment for both front seats, as well as both cushion angle adjustment and a cushion extension for the driver’s side. Having such broad adjustability and useful support in the seat base boosted comfort quite a bit for our longer-legged testers, and made an already strong driving position even better.
Comfort levels aren’t quite as creditable in the rear seats. Back there, outright space is only average for the hatchback class: a Volkswagen Golf offers better head room and a Toyota Corolla more leg room. But, as a compromise of outward compactness and design appeal and inward practicality, what the A-Class offers is certainly respectable. The oddly bulky interior door handles, which eat needlessly into second-row knee room, will continue to be a source of complaint for some.
The A-Class’s steering wheel is the other main focus of the interior refresh. The car inherits the wheel designs we have seen on many bigger Mercedes models over the past five years, with their smaller steering hubs and slimmer pairs of parallel spokes, each crowded with switchgear. We miss the chunkier physical buttons of the old wheel design, the touch-sensitive controls of the new one being fiddlier and easier to brush by accident.
The updated A-Class gets Mercedes’ latest MBUX twin-screen infotainment system, even in its cheapest model trim. That it has lost the touch-sensitive fingertip input device on the centre console ought to be no great loss to anyone, although the menu shortcut keys that used to surround that pad are notable by their absence, and the system is slightly harder to navigate as a result.
Reaching and swiping at the screen isn’t your only route, though. The voice recognition system works well for navigation destinations, and typically at the first attempt. You can also scroll menu screens and select functions using the cursor on the upper left-hand spoke of the steering wheel, without taking a hand off the rim.
The system has wireless device charging and wireless mirroring for both Apple and Android as standard. The wireless mirroring worked consistently well with an Apple phone.