2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class First Drive: Sour-Patch Wunderkind

“Shut the **** up,” I shouted at the 10.3-inch touchscreen on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A-Class. I’m tired, and jet lagged, and the frustration over a second missed turn of the day during Seattle's rush hour is the straw that broke the camel’s back. The result is me yelling at an inanimate object. Its response?

“You can't handle the truth.”

An A For Effort:

Both my co-driver and I erupt in laughter. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class and its new infotainment system, MBUX (pronounced emm-bee you-ex, not emm-bux), are like Sour Patch Kids – sour, and then slowly but surely, sweet.

A big part of the sour is something I won't cover in too much depth here – check out the dedicated list breaking down the system's features, foibles, and fascinations here. MBUX is both one of the most promising new infotainment systems and one of the most infuriating. Considering my expletive-fueled outburst, the latter point shouldn't come as a surprise. Still, there's genuinely interesting technology on display that can’t be ignored.

The headlining feature is the voice control system; one of four ways for drivers to interact with MBUX (the others include the touchscreen display, the steering wheel controls, or the trackpad on the center console). This is not your typical voice control system, though. It's capable of understanding more casual speech, so you're not stuck using prede...