The A-Class’ interior mirrors those of Merc's more expensive models in terms of design. Most folk will operate the classy central display primarily through its touchscreen functionality, but you can also move through the menus using a touchpad on the centre console and thumb pads on the steering wheel. It’s a very in-depth and very customisable system that will undoubtedly require some time to get your head around, but once you’re up to speed with it, it’s reasonably intuitive to use, so long as you stick to the touchscreen interface. That said, it’s still less precise and more distracting to use on the move than using a traditional scrolling wheel.
Technology aside, while we wish the seats adjusted lower, as the driving position might feel a bit high for taller drivers, they're very comfortable, and the sports seats included in the AMG-powered A35 are even better. Visibility is good, too, and the quality of the cabin materials is truly excellent, making it feel very nearly as plush as Merc’s bigger, more expensive
models. And importantly, the A-Class is for the most part a match for any of its rivals on quality.
As is often the case with Mercedes, different versions of the A-Class come with different suspension setups, which will influence how your car drives. The more powerful versions, and cars with four-wheel drive, have more sophisticated rear suspension, while less powerful models make do with a simpler twist-beam setup. So far, in the regular, non-AMG A-Class, we’ve only tried the latter. You feel too much of the surface beneath you, so unless the road you’re on is smooth enough to play an undisturbed game of billiards on, you’ll find the car fidgeting and hopping along in a restless, unsettled way. Sharp ridges and potholes can be felt thudding into the cabin, too, so if comfort is important to you, you might want to look at spending a little extra on a model with the upgraded suspension.
The handling is far less problematic. There’s a decent amount of grip to call upon, and the steering has a satisfyingly meaty weighting. However, the car could be quicker to react to a turn of the wheel, and while the body slops over in a slightly untidy fashion at first, it becomes more controlled once the suspension settles to its task. There's a fair amount of road noise on the move though, so you might want to turn the radio up to compensate.
The A35 hot hatch has a stiffened body and, on the cars we’ve tried, optional adaptive suspension which thankfully isn’t too much extra cash. It’s impressive, with fantastic poise and grip through corners, although some might wish it felt a bit more playful. It’s clinically fast, rather than laugh-out-loud fun.
The A-Class' cabin is roomy in the front and the back, with decent space for four tall adults, and five if they don’t mind getting a bit cosy. There’s a storage box under the centre armrest in the front, as well as two cupholders and a cubbyhole, and door pockets big enough for a bottle and assorted odds and ends. The boot
, is virtually the same size as the BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3, and the seats fold down flat.