The updated Mercedes A-Class… doesn’t look any different, to be honest

We bet you’ve said (or heard) some variation of ‘I like her old stuff better than her new stuff’ at some point in your life. And maybe we’re taking a gamble, but it looks like Mercedes has found the answer: make your new stuff basically indistinguishable from your old stuff.

But let’s not rush to judgment on the ‘new and improved’ A-Class; perhaps most of the development has occurred under the skin, also known in motoring circles as ‘making a GT-R’.

As such, for the latest iteration we find a 48-volt mild hybrid system that extends to all A-Class models except the AMG A45, as well as an 8bhp boost for plug-in hybrid models. Mercedes claims a ‘boost effect’ of 13 horsepower, but doesn’t disclose the total power when gasoline and electric are combined. Purely an oversight, we’re sure – ‘system output’ for PHEVs is listed, so it must be just one of those things. And it’s definitely not the fact that with a 107bhp electric motor and a 161bhp petrol engine, the A250e PHEV has a combined output of 215bhp, not the 268 you’d expect from simple math, because peak power comes in different times so an extra 14bhp electric ‘boost effect’ would give it a boost as noticeable as a decaf coffee.

But apart from a sop to the electrification that really puts the ‘mild’ into ‘mild hybrid’, what else can we find under the new Picture-of-Dorian-Gray skin of the new A-Class? Erm… more electrification. because of course

Apparently plug-in cars can now accept 11kW of AC charging, as opposed to 7.4 kilowatts for older Class A PHEVs. Which sounds like great news for all the people out there who have 3-phase power in their home and have bought a fast charger for electric vehicles, but are still itching to burn off hydrocarbons somehow, just for a laugh or something.

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And as far as we can tell, this modicum of power assistance ends behind-the-scenes tinkering. It’s not even like the A-Class has gotten rid of any of its gasoline engines or put the finishing touches on the diesel, like a “we’re on electric now, and electric treats us better than ever” sort of thing. Because we are reliably informed that this is exactly what car planning meetings of Germans in suits would look like.

The result, we suppose, is that you can still buy diesels, if you’re absolutely sure there’s someone in the world who hasn’t made a joke about your Dieselgate, canal boat, or Massey-Ferguson car and you like to make sure no one is stay behind

So far, then, we’ve got looks that make a difference, a bit of added hybridity, and no more mechanical changes. But then again, this generation of Class A was never about such boring things as ‘handling’ or ‘exciting powertrains’; it’s all about that inside. So what’s new there?

Erm… well, the steering wheel is now that complex, multi-tiered thing we’ve seen on other Benzes, with more buttons than the Apollo 13 and fairly similar chances of you doing something completely unexpected by pressing one. Speaking of all things space age, there will apparently be a fingerprint reader, so anyone trying to steal your Class A may get an “I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave” when they try to leave. .

The touchscreens and displays you could already get on the old A-Class now run ‘latest MBUX generation’ which has serious undertones of ‘no but this year’s phones are so much better about it. Case in point? The ‘new design display styles’ have three different styles with three different modes. And, apparently, ‘seven worlds of colors’. Don’t quote us on this, but we’re pretty sure we played that Super Mario I play like children.

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But speaking of old stuff being repurposed, at least the seats are made from varying percentages of recycled materials, interior color palettes now include ‘a luxurious-looking beige’ and ‘new, zeitgeist sage grey’. Well, at least the writer is trying.

Other than that, it’s pretty much the A-Class you’ve come to know: an expensive little hatchback and saloon that excels at cabin ambience and less fun-to-drive, old-fashioned concept than it clearly should be.

Oh, and as for the A45? Basically it hasn’t changed, except for this creepy special edition which has a name we’ve already forgotten, but it’s something along the lines of ‘Street Sweeper Edition’. OK, just double check and it’s the ‘Street Style Edition’. Hey, we like ours better.

In any case, the Sesame Street Edition also produces those… bold accents and decals. It’s not our thing, of course, but it’s definitely brave to venture into a limb like that. And if we talk about the ‘new’ Class A? At some point, someone had to do it.

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