There’s a new Audi A3 around the corner waiting to snatch this accolade away, but we reckon the A45’s cabin is one of the best available in a hot hatch. It doesn’t have the charming simplicity of an old 205 GTI of course, nor a snappy manual gearshift sprouting from the dash like an EP3 Civic Type R. But what it does have is an environment that, visually at least, wouldn’t look out of place in something a lot more sophisticated.
Mercedes’ widescreen cabin layout in the A-class (it’s actually a pair of screens, but both sit within a single binnacle) gives you all the information you could ever need. Finding the right combination of dials and displays that work for you is a little tricky, with so many options, but once you’ve settled on a layout the effect is suitably futuristic, and with convenient touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel, fairly easy to navigate. Some features are hidden a little deep within the various menus, but the important stuff is easy to come by, and Mercedes has sensibly kept physical controls for the air conditioning.
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Of the AMG-specific aspects, you get a pair of well-bolstered and supportive sports seats, and a steering wheel much like that of other AMGs. Those main touchpoints are well positioned, as are the pedals, so finding a driving position that works is a pretty simple process. The steering wheel feels great too, and AMG is one of few German manufacturers that does gearshift paddles properly – they’re well-sized, well-positioned and operate with a tactile click.