Mercedes A-Class saloon - Interior & comfort
The Mercedes A-Class saloon's all-digital interior is game-changing in the family-car class
Lower yourself into the A-Class saloon and you'll see it's a carbon copy of the hatchback, with the same futuristic digital layout. The traditional instrument binnacle has been ditched in favour of TFT screens, giving the A-Class a unique selling point in this class until a rival manufacturer follows suit. It also gives the A-Class Saloon a more impressive dashboard than the pricier Mercedes C-Class - for now at least.
Mercedes A-Class saloon dashboard
The twin displays measure seven inches each as standard, and one or both screens can be upgraded to 10.25 inches in size for the full widescreen effect. It's a striking cockpit, presenting 'gauges' behind the steering wheel that offer far more customisation than a traditional setup, while the right-hand display acts more like a conventional infotainment screen, showing everything from the radio to navigation.
They also allow the rest of the dashboard to be free from clutter, with just a single row of buttons on the central stack and a few lighting controls to the right of the steering wheel. Most functions are taken care of by the touch-sensitive controller or by speaking to the car, thanks to the voice control included with the new MBUX operating system.
The A-Class saloon is available in just two trim levels, called Sport and AMG Line, but don't be fooled into thinking there's not much choice. You can also add packs called Executive, Premium and Premium Plus to tailor the equipment you need, or plunder the extensive options list.
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Even Sport trim is well equipped, with LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, Artico man-made leather seats, a sports steering wheel and dual-zone climate control as standard. The Audi S line-rivalling AMG Line trim introduces a sporty body kit and 'diamond' front grille, along with dual chrome exhaust finishers integrated into the rear bumper. It also gets 18-inch five-spoke AMG alloy wheels and a three-spoke sports steering wheel.
As mentioned above, Mercedes offers popular kit in packs, with a potentially worthwhile saving over buying each option individually. The first is the Executive equipment line, adding folding door mirrors and dimming rear-view glass, a 10.25-inch infotainment display, Parktronic (including parking sensors) and heated front seats for around £1,400.
The Premium equipment line costs almost £1,000 more, but includes all of the above and makes both screens 10.25 inches. Other features include a stereo upgrade (to Mercedes' mid-range system), keyless entry, 64-colour ambient lighting, illuminated door sills and a rear armrest. Up the ante again (by spending a further £1,200) and you benefit from everything above and memory front seats, a panoramic sunroof and adaptive LED headlights that adjust for oncoming traffic and the road conditions.
Mercedes has launched its latest infotainment system with the A-Class, so not only does it outshine most rivals, it's also more powerful than the systems fitted in the range-topping Mercedes S-Class limousine. The larger screens are a worthwhile upgrade to take advantage of the latest software and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are available as part of a £400 Advanced Smartphone package that also includes a wireless charging pad.
While it's likely to improve as updates are rolled out, we found Mercedes' MBUX voice control system slightly less successful. Its party trick is that it's activated by saying "Hey Mercedes", rather like smartphones' "Okay Google" function. You can then ask it to carry out operations like adjusting the climate control or navigating to a point of interest, but we found it recognised our commands less than half the time.