If anything, the car’s better in its Sport mode in the UK – firmer, no question, but more composed and consistent. Although it’s still no BMW 3 Series or Alfa Romeo Giulia, both of which remain pleasing rear-drive compact executive saloons that have a fine blend of handling and ride, the Alfa particularly.
It’s as if Mercedes is pitching itself as a tech company as much as a vehicle engineering company, a move embodied by a big central touchscreen that, as in a Tesla, overloads the dashboard with infotainment options. It’s not all controlled via the screen itself. There’s iffy voice control, too, while thesteering wheel spokes have controls for both the instrument pack (left spoke) and big screen (right spoke). They’d work much better if their haptic-style buttons and swipe-pads weren’t so easy to mis-control. And because the centre screen is so big, you can’t rest your wrist anywhere while you prod it, either. So while, for example, the graphics are great, and most of the menus sensibly laid out, ergonomically it’s too distracting.
Fit and finish are good, though – at least on this unspecific high-end model – with design touches such as snazzy air vents and some of the discotheque lighting suggesting that this is more a show-business than old-money car now, which is not the vibe Mercedes used to give off.