This Premium hatchback is a serious social media machine

Mercedes’ new A-Class hatchback plans to blow away BMW’s 1 Series and the Audi A3 by taking smartphone in-car integration trend to a whole new level. Join TechRadar as we get hands on with Merc’s new premium hatchback and its fancy iPhone-driven features.

At first glance the new A-Class looks a lot more conventional, if a damn sight sexier and slinkier, than the outgoing model. Gone are the MPV-aping proportions and novel sandwich-floored construction.

Step inside, however, and you find innovation of a different kind – and frankly of a sort that you’ll likely find more relevant in the real world than the old A-Class’s novel but ultimately rather futile chassis engineering.

The big news is the arrival of a new iPhone integration app, or as Mercedes would have it, a “digital drivestyle” (geddit?!) app known as DriveKit Plus. The idea is to allow your iPhone to feed features, functionality and apps directly onto the A-Class’s dash-mounted infotainment display. It’s an idea we’ve seen before, most notably courtesy of MINI Connected. But Mercedes is taking things a step further.

The interface itself has a different look and feel from both iOS on the Apple iPhone and Mercedes own COMAND infotainment. That’s no bad thing regards the latter, which has a rather patchy and dated appearance.

The whole thing is driven and run on the iPhone and requires an app installation on the handset. Once up and running, functionality is split into three main areas, Social, Media and Places. Everything is controlled via Mercedes’ console-mounted input wheel. Despite the tablet-esque appearance of the screen, there is no touch functionality.