There are so few truly poor new cars nowadays that for many consumers the real dilemmas have become what their car choice will reveal about them and what technology is on board.
The development of technology is part of the challenge that manufacturers face, as premium brands strive to stay ahead of mainstream carmakers trying to move upmarket.
A recent 460-mile round trip to Swansea proved a superb opportunity to explore more of the optional technology fitted to our long-term test A220CDI AMG Sport.
At £36,925, including its £9,755 of optional extras, this is perhaps not an ideal example of the typical A-Class aimed at attracting customers who perceived they could never afford a new Mercedes.
Nevertheless, it is impressive that equipment such as the Collision Prevention Assist and Pre-Safe anticipatory safety systems, Distronic Plus active cruise control and reversing camera are available on this baby Mercedes when only a few years ago such kit was exclusive to high-end executive shuttles.
Customers regularly undertaking long journeys will find the £880 optional Distronic Plus a huge comfort. Setting and adjusting the cruising speed is simple via the control stalk, and radar sensors at the front of the car constantly monitor the distance to the car in front. When that gap reduces the system can lower the speed to maintain a safe distance, even slowing the A-Class to a complete standstill if the traffic comes to a halt.
Collision Prevention Assist, standard on the A-Class, aims to reduce the likelihood of shunting a vehicle ahead. It uses the radar system to monitor the distance to the vehicle in front and displays a warning triangle on the dashboard if the driver is following too closely.
If the situation becomes critical, such as the vehicle ahead slows suddenly, it emits a burst of three beeps designed to prompt the driver into reacting. Simultaneously the braking system is pre-loaded to help the driver give optimum deceleration. If an accident is probable, the Pre-Safe system, a £340 option, tightens the seatbelts and closes the windows to reduce the risk of injury to the occupants.
One further system fitted to our A200CDI AMG Sport that is useful for cruising motorways is the £770 Lane Tracking Package. It consists of Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist systems to keep the driver aware of vehicles coming up alongside and help them maintain position in their lane.
While the Pre-Safe system thankfully didn’t get used, the others certainly proved useful, intuitive and reassuring during the eight hour round trip. For the sake of a £1,990 investment these systems should be a relatively easy sell to many young executives (or their fleet managers).