Review: Mercedes Benz A Class 2015 Sport In-Car Technology







Introduction:
At the end of 2015 I took out a 2 year lease on a Mercedes Benz A Class 2015 Sport model. I know pretty much nothing about cars other than the fact you need to put petrol or diesel in them. I do know about technology so I have decided to just review those bits.

It's absolutely packed with modern technology and I can't recommend buying or leasing one enough. I've been driving it every day for around 6 months and have clocked up just under 10,000 miles. Onwards with the review!

Standard Features:
It's worth mentioning a couple of the standard features. I won't be reviewing them in depth but they do exist.

-Cruise Control
-Speedtronic (maximum speed setting).
-Automatic windscreen wipers.
-Automatic folding wing mirrors.
-Tracker
-SOS button. I believe it calls an operations centre and sends important location and damage information.
-Heated seats.

My setup:

-iPhone connected via Bluetooth and into the USB charging port.

-USB drive connected via the media USB port.

-I'm pretty sure I have a Daft Punk CD in the CD player. I used the CD player once when my my phone was being repaired. I don't really know why car manufacturers bother designing in CD players anymore...

Controls:

Audio 20 Controller:





This is the controller you use most often. The top left button is the back/return button. The top right button opens your programmable favourites menu. The dial at the bottom is your navigation wheel. It moves in every which way you can think of. See the Mercedes manual screenshot below:









Audio 20 Control Panel:







I use the control panel much less than the controller. In fact the only buttons I use are the number pad and the On/Off switch.

Steering Wheel Controls:







I frequently use the steering wheel controls for Volume controlling along with dialling/ending calls.

Inputs:
Bluetooth.
USB charging port (power only).
USB Port (data and power).
2x 12v cigarette style power ports.

Radio:
The car has a radio. I never use it.
The interface is pretty cool. It's only FM but it does display what's on along with the station name.
I have left the TA (Traffic Announcements) on which sometimes come in handy. I'll explain more in the navigation section.

Navigation System:
The navigation system is provided by TomTom and is absolutely awesome. In my opinion it's a really well designed interface. It maintains an Internet connection to TomTom and constantly updates traffic conditions and recommends new routes.

I have taken this car on several long (5+ hour) journeys. Once or twice I've had Traffic Announcements come through the radio before the route has updated. I don't know if this is a Mercedes or TomTom issue. I'm sure both companies would tell you not to rely souly on a navigation system but it would be nice if it updated quicker.

If I know where I'm going and want to make it look as thigh I'm on a space ship I'll click the GPS diagnostics menu. You get this screen in the display:








One of the really cool features is the "hear traffic ahead" option. It gets Jill (I call the navigation lady Jill) to tell you about all of the incidents in the route ahead.




Traffic legend after Jill notified me of roadworks.

Media:
The media playback is excellent. Mercedes have partnered with Harman/Kardon to provide a nice clear in car sound system. It maintains a good sound output at a volume far louder than I can maintain concentration at. In my book that's more than good enough.

The Bluetooth audio is as expected. In my old car I had an in car parrot system which took slightly longer to connect and occasionally disconnected. I can't say I've ever had a problem with this.

Switching between USB media and Bluetooth playback is easy and simple. The system has a source selection menu which displays a list of its knows sources. I use this to switch between the phone and media device.

If you have the Media icon selected the display will show you the current track details. Very similar to every other audio playback device.




The one complaint I have about media playback is skipping tracks. Occasionally there will be a delay of around half a second to a second when you click the next track button. This could be an Apple or Mercedes issue.

Telephone Functionality:
You can connect pretty much any modern phone to the on-board computer. Your phone book syncs as soon as the phone connects. A feature that I like is the phone book is wiped once the device is disconnected. This would be useful if you were to hire the car or are just security conscious.

Navigating the phone book is a breeze. You can browse or search your phone book quickly and easily due to the fact it's reading the phone book from on-board storage rather than over a Bluetooth connection.

The central console has a full number keypad built in. This is surprisingly useful if you remember phone numbers like I do. I find myself using it more than you would think.

Another nice feature is text messaging. If you receive an SMS or iMessage you can hit the letterbox icon and read it on the central console screen.

Features:

Ambient lighting:
The door sills, footwell and arm rests contain customisable ambient LED lights. Remember the internal neon lights everybody wanted in early 2000s? It's an implementation of that. I set mine to pink because I'm the coolest cat in town.

Self Parking:
My favourite feature is something called PARKTRONIC. Basically when you are driving at slow speeds the car uses radar or lasers/something cool to measure the size of spaces. If requested it will bay or parallel park for you. It's a great party trick (N.B I recommend turning the LEDs blue for a more party feel).

Reversing Camera:
If enabled in the options the car will flip down a rear reversing camera. The screen changes to a HD view of the rear of the car. It displays where the car will go if you simply reverse along with if you turn the wheel. The yellow lines adjust to steering wheel movements.







Parking Sensors:
The car also contains parking sensors which is fairly standard in modern cars. It displays how close you are to an object with yellow and red bars.
I found this feature really useful when driving down narrow roads on Dartmoor.






Collision Avoidance Technology:
Mercedes have added some interesting tech called COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS. Basically it warns you with a light if you are too close the the car in front. It gives you two loud beeps if you are very close and activates the brakes if you are getting close to hitting something.

The salesman told me that it's near impossible to hit something at very low speeds because the car will simply stop and not allow you to accelerate. I've never tried this and I hopefully never will.

Conclusion:
This car is absolutely awesome. I would recommend anyone who can afford it to get one. It would be interesting to see what tech Mercedes add to their vehicles in the future.


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