Strange thing we now do to cars
FOR someone who's never quite adjusted to saying "Hey Siri" to an inanimate object, uttering the words "Hey Mercedes" takes some getting used to.
But at a time when road safety authorities around the country are seriously considering $1000 fines for using a mobile phone in the car, hands-free is becoming a necessity more than a luxury.
Our A250's list of voice-activated features is daunting at first - there are more than 30 voice commands for the satnav alone - but after a few hiccups, we're getting the hang of dictating addresses rather than entering them by hand. It's less hassle and much safer than fiddling around with a touchscreen while you're trying to drive.
Once you've mastered "Hey Mercedes" then it's time to get your head around "Mercedes Me". It's an app that allows you to keep tabs on your car from your mobile phone.
At a glance, it will tell you where your car is, whether you've left it unlocked and how much range you have left based on your current fuel consumption.
Dig a little deeper into the menu and there are a host of Big Brother-esque features that allow you to keep an even closer eye on your pride and joy.
At any given time you can press a button and see where the car is. If other people are driving the car, it will tell you where they are going and even whether they have exceeded a speed limit you've set for the car. Handy for checking on hotel valets and lead-footed teenagers, but we can't help thinking it would also appeal to jealous husbands and boyfriends.
Mercedes is introducing the tech across all its cars and at the moment that's caused headaches with its server. As a result, some of these functions haven't been available while we've had the car. They should be sorted before we hand it back, though.
The best feature is the ability to preheat or cool the car via your phone before you head off to work, but a close second is being able to remotely enter a destination in the satnav ahead of a journey.
As for the nuts and bolts, the engine-transmission combination in the A250 takes some beating. The turbocharged four is strong through the rev range and the seven-speed dual-clutch auto is intuitive and fast shifting. Around town, there's the odd hesitation - a common gripe with twin-clutch autos - but for most of the time it feels as smooth as a conventional auto.
Fuel consumption is good on the open road but can occasionally creep into the early teens on slow morning commutes.
The lowered suspension is relatively easy to live with in comfort mode around town. It's firm without crashing too rudely over potholes and sharper-edged bumps.
Overall, the A250 is proving to be an impressive all-rounder.