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Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2018: 14 first impressions

More than 450 international media flocked to see the Mercedes-Benz A-Class 2018 model in the metal. It was bedlam.

Having been invited to the unveiling of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz A-Class, it only seems fair to give you – the potential customer – an idea of what's good about it, and what mightn't be to everyone's tastes.

Here are a couple of observations from the floor of the unveiling:

1) There are too many buttons on the steering wheel: the wheel has the usual things, like volume and cruise control, but also a pair of touch-pads for the driver. It's great that Benz is aiming to get the pilot to keep their hands on the controls, but this is a wheel that could take some learning – even despite claims that a five-year-old can learn it without being taught. Maybe I'm just not as smart as modern-day five-year-olds.

This is a wheel that could take some learning – even despite claims that a five-year-old can learn it without being taught. This is a wheel that could take some learning – even despite claims that a five-year-old can learn it without being taught.

2) The ambient lighting is excellent: it isn't just across the dashboard and in the doors – this time around, Benz has added lighting to the air-vents!

3) Those air vents: to my eye they're exceptionally pretty, but some media colleagues present found them to be dominant of the space. Each to their own, hey?

This time around, Benz has added lighting to the air-vents! This time around, Benz has added lighting to the air-vents!

4) MBUX could be a game-changer: there is no denying that Benz wanted to slap down the Audi A3 and that car's Virtual Cockpit system, and it may have done so with a resounding 'thwack!' – but the proof will be in the pudding.

5) The media system controls are simpler than in other Benz models but still not as "piece of cake" as an Audi with Virtual Cockpit.

6) Yes, those tail-lights are very similar to a Kia Cerato hatchback's.

Yes, those tail-lights are very similar to a Kia Cerato hatchback's. Yes, those tail-lights are very similar to a Kia Cerato hatchback's.

7) It's still not as easy to get into and out of the back seat in the A-Class as it is in some other hatchbacks, because the door apertures are quite small at the bottom.

8) It looks better in the metal than it does in the pictures.

9) Some models still don't have rear-seat air-vents: on the floor there was an A180d without the vents, and an A200 with them...

10) The Mercedes Me smartphone app supports "casual private car sharing", meaning it can allow you to share your car with friends or family: you just need to lock the keys in the car, and the other person can unlock the car with their phone using the app. Pretty neat, but you can probably expect people to ask to borrow your car a lot.

11) An electrified version is imminent: we'd expect that not only will there be a performance oriented hybrid A35 model, but possibly a plug-in hybrid and a fully electric version.

It looks better in the metal than it does in the pictures. It looks better in the metal than it does in the pictures.

12) The drag co-efficient is the best in the hatchback class, with the most aero-focused eco-model having a Cd rating of 0.25.

13) Outward vision from the driver's seat was one of the main concerns from previous A-Class owners, and the new model has been designed to be better in that regard.

14) Cabin noise and harsh suspension were the other two elements that needed addressing, and the company reckons it has managed to make the new version considerably quieter by using a new sound-deadening application process, and by adjusting the suspension so it still feels controlled, but now deals with bumpy roads more compliantly.

Are you likely to consider the new-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class as your next car? Let us know in the comments below.