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Mazda3 Sport GT vs Mercedes-Benz A 220: Which has the better interior?

Mazda3 Sport GT vs Mercedes-Benz A 220: Which has the better interior?
Autos
Both machines represent two solid ways to get around in the inclement winter conditions of Northern Ontario. Both are upscale, both are fun to drive, and both flaunt similarly sporty and athletic characters that makes them refreshingly responsive and engaging to drive, across all weather conditions — including those found on the nastiest winter days in Northern Ontario.

(By the way, for the money, both of these machines offer some of the highest-performing lighting systems you’ll find for the dollar.)

For their respective price tags, one aspect of these machines stood out more than the rest after a combined 3,000 kilometres at the wheel in the dead of a Sudbury winter: their interiors. Question is, how does the interior in a fully-loaded Mazda stack up against the interior in an entry-level Mercedes? And is the Mercedes worth the extra money?

The Mercedes A 220 made a great first impression, wowing immediately by way of a generous selection of design touches lifted straight out of much pricier Mercedes models. But the Mazda feels more impressive at the tips of my fingers. It has a smooth and solid gearshift action with a leather knob, and it feels good and solid in your hands.

Car Review: 2020 Mercedes-Benz A 220

The Mercedes shifts gears via a flimsy plastic wand. To this writer, more parts of the Mazda’s cabin feel more solid and substantial when you use them.

The Mercedes has the more exciting dash, though its inner door panels don’t look or feel as solid or nicely-finished as the Mazda’s. The Mercedes door handles look slick, but feel less sturdy when you yank the door shut. These are minor things, but if you just dropped $38,000 on a car, or more, little touches like that are pretty delightful.

I prefer the central command system in the Mercedes over the Mazda, though. It’s smarter, faster, liquid smooth, great graphics and just works so intuitively after not much learning. In the Benz, it’s all about the tech. The big screen display covers plenty of the forward scenery and boasts rich, saturated colors and graphics and animation clarity that blow the Mazda out of the water.

If you like analog gauges, the Mazda’s are lovely. If you prefer digital, the Mercedes is about as good as it gets. It’s one of the first digital dashboards I enjoyed after dark, thanks to its clean and easy-to-see readouts plus solid mitigation of light leakage from non-lit parts of the screen. That gorgeous display is flanked by a dashboard which lights up after dark like the inside of a high-performance gaming PC. For after-dark ambience, the Mercedes is where you want to be.

But the finely manicured take on conventional luxury found in the Mazda 3 isn’t hard to appreciate. The screens and displays can’t stand up the Benz, and you get the impression that Mazda wanted this interior to look a bit quieter — maybe more subtle. Just like with your fingertips, close inspection with your eyes of the Mazda’s cabin reveals plenty of high-end detail and premium touches, trimmings, and finishes.

All said, I think the A 220 has the more remarkable cabin here. But with a price difference of about $6,000 as shown (make it about $8,400 if you skip the turbo engine option in the Mazda) it’s safe to say that Mazda’s doing an incredible interior for the money, too.

In this comparison, we’ve got the Mercedes as the display and graphics master that puts on a hell of a show during after dark driving; and the quieter-looking Mazda that’s not as flashy, but does feel and look remarkably well done for the dollar, even on close inspection. The less-expensive Mazda has a considerable power and torque advantage over the Mercedes, too — and the better transmission for stop-and-go traffic.
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