Best Inexpensive Cars – Image via autowise.com
Best Inexpensive Cars – There’s a lot to talk about the Mercedes-Benz A-Class AS. This is the car of many firsts: The first A-Class model to appear in the US when dealer hits later this year; the first A-Class sedan, well, ever (the previous Euro-spec model is a resounding hatchback). And because we dutifully track the way our cars become more like smartphones, it’s important to note that this is the first vehicle featuring the Mercedes-driven MBUX voice-driven interface.
That may not seem very impressive when you consider the A-Class – the most expensive luxury car maker – also packs a four-turbo engine directly under the hood. But the purpose of Mercedes with the A-Class is to capture the imagination of a new generation of luxury car owners: They are younger, they have more nuanced expectations of their devices, and Mercedes wants to keep it for life. No wonder the infotainment system has received so much attention.
Best Inexpensive Cars
Smartphones have raised the standard for the kind of attention people expect from their devices, and Mercedes seems to understand that very well. As a result, you can issue a command to the A-Class with a simple “Hey, Mercedes”. Importantly, commands that are specifically related to car hardware are processed immediately without pinging the remote server, to ensure the temperature of your cabin is as fast as possible.
Other tasks, such as asking Mercedes to show you the nearest restaurant on the large touch screen in the center, do require the car to forward your request to the cloud. The A-Class we tried unfortunately stuck on the roof of a very fancy Brooklyn hotel and run European software, so we have not been able to feel the right hardware or software. That said, I’ve jumped to my fair share of the smarter new cars (the benefit of being one of the few Engadget NY employees with SIM), and the bit I see there compared to the wise utility of MBUX.
The command “Hey, Mercedes” works really well when automotive journalists do not ramble in the backseat, and a company spokesman insists that there are no car interface methods that are locked while the car is in motion. For better or worse, that means you – or anyone in your passenger seat – is free to surf the web in Google Chrome while sliding down I-95.
Best of all, MBUX is capable of surprising intelligence. Over time, the system adapts to your behavior and personalizes your driving experience. Are there any songs you like to hear in your office from and to work? Are there certain people you contact at a certain time? These are the factors that MBUX considers, and as a result, it feels like the most seamless car-control experience I’ve ever encountered. It’s not much different from interacting with Siri or Google Assistant, and considering its car maker, it’s one of the highest praises I can offer.
There’s more to the A-Class than just its infotainment system. This package of features you might not expect from a relatively basic vehicle. Most notably, the autonomous driving features in the E-class and S-class pricier models are present and taken into account, and that’s okay considering we’re looking at what’s acceptable for a low-end luxury car.
Beyond the interior technical trap, Mercedes says the A-Class generation has the lowest drag coefficient of any commercially available vehicle on the market today – the design language the company chooses may not work for everyone, but it certainly has its advantages.
Usually, a few hours of rain will be enough to dampen the opening of any company’s outdoor products. Mercedes A-Class, however, is enough for it even the rain can not dampen the process. It may be one of the most important cars of the year, and at this point, Mercedes seems to deserve praise. This is a fun, functional, and relatively inexpensive vehicle that may just be a company’s needs.
Of course, you probably will not buy the A-Class solely because of its infotainment system, but the elegance and fluidity of Mercedes’s approach here is certainly no harm. This is a clear sign that smartphone-ification cars not only survive, but change the way we interact with one of the most expensive products we buy.