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We test drive the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, and discover it’s A-OK

FQ editor Sally-Ann Mullin with the Mercedes-Benz A-class A200 hatch

Sally-Ann Mullin tests the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class A200 hatch and finds the brand has brought its A-game.

What if a machine could read your mind and alter its features to cater to your wants and needs? Sound alluring? The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class has got it covered.

Two words — “Hey Mercedes” — are all it takes to direct your voice-activated A-Class to write and send a text, change to your favourite radio station or Spotify playlist, or calculate the fastest route home. Not feeling the still-crisp spring weather? Just holler at your girl. A simple, “Hey Mercedes, I’m cold” will turn up the heat.

Of all the tech features and options this car has to offer, this Linguatronic voice control intrigues me the most. It feels impressive and modern — more S-class than A-Class. Making light work of my New Zealand accent, it’s able to learn the nuances of my voice from just a few utterances and really listens to my commands.

Sally-Ann Mullin
FQ editor Sally-Ann Mullin with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class A200 hatch.

The new A-Class is a little bigger, a little more premium and a whole lot smarter than before, with just enough of the S-class magic to make this entry-level model a great buy. There’s a lot going on in the cabin design-wise, with several finishes on the dash, multi-coloured disco lights on the doors and aviation-esque speakers — but it works. The car I’m driving is also fitted with new intuitive seats that move to cradle your body in different ways for short-, mid- and long-distance journeys.

The A200 is the first of three engine variations to hit the New Zealand market. As one of the first in the country to drive it (lucky me), I can confirm it’s fuel-efficient, sounds great and handles well.

Mercedes-Benz A Class A200 hatch
Beauty and brains: the A-class has the look – and the tech to back it up.

I have to admit, though, the infotainment system is the main drawcard for me. It’s high-spec, with an elegant frameless 10.25-inch touchscreen that’s also easily operated from the steering wheel and touchpad. The navigation, climate control and more are a cinch to use, and the car is designed to easily and smoothly sync with your smartphone, with no need for pin codes for connectivity. You can also charge said phone via the wireless pad in the console, which is nothing new but pretty impressive in an A-Class.

The heads-up display viewed in the windscreen allows you to see how fast you’re going and what the local speed limit is, meaning it’s safety first as you don’t need to take your eyes off the road to glance down at your dash. In fact, there’s all sorts of tech geared to keep you safe, including active brake assist, and driving aids like lane and distance control.

This new-generation premium hatch certainly is A grade, and that’s A-OK with me.

Words: Sally-Ann Mullin
Photos: Michael James Rooke, Supplied.

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