A QUICK glance at the all-new Mercedes-Benz A-Class would lead you to conclude it's not all that different to its predecessor.
Such first impressions would be seriously wide of the mark though, as while Mercedes designers have clearly gone for evolution over revolution there is a great deal about the new version that is very new indeed.
The new model is bigger than the one it replaces - 14mm wider and 30mm longer - but it's on the inside and under the skin where the big changes are.
The latest A-Class has been engineered to be a much more mature and capable driver's car and also has onboard technology that has trickled down from the S-Class that really does leave many competitors in the shade.
As said, its exterior design blueprint is a constant, a compact and tidy small hatchback with a few hints of coupe styling.
It's hard to imagine now how once upon a time the A-Class was the kind of car that really was totally different to anything else out there - a kind of quirky, compact MPV.
Over time it became much more of a mainstream hatch to rival the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf and in the process became a big Mercedes sales star.
The new version will almost certainly continue that trend.
On the inside the improvements are instantly discernible, with a much more roomy and passenger friendly cabin and a bigger boot. Carrying capacity is 370 litres - an increase of 29 litres on the car it replaces.
Interior ergonomics are suitably impressive and very Mercedes-like, even if this high-spec AMG Line model has inbuilt added plushness.
The most distinguishing feature is the all-new MBUX system with its touchscreen interface. Standard equipment sees buyers get two side-by-side seven-inch screens spanning infotainment, onboard functions and instrumentation.
This car had the more snazzy 10.25-inch screens which are an optional extra, though I can seem them being popular.
The two screens sit side by side and actually appear more like one big widescreen, combining to create a real wow factor.
It's worth stressing that despite the S-Class trickle-down effect, the pioneering utilisation of Mercedes' latest technology in the A-Class is genuinely pace-setting.
There's also the 'Hey Mercedes' voice recognition system which I have to say I had a lot of fun with, even if it didn't quite recognise my regional accent at times.
This car also had another example of Mercedes' showcase technology in the shape of an augmented reality navigation display. This would appear to make getting lost (still a possibility, even with a sat nav) a thing of the past - with a camera display being augmented by arrows and more besides, combining to tell you exactly where you should be going. Very impressive.
As expected there's a range of diesel and petrol engines to choose from.
The A220 offers a pleasing and potent petrol unit that might not be marketed as a performance model but is impressively swift nonetheless.
The 2.0-litre, 188bhp turbocharged four-cylinder is certainly smooth and sweet and delivers impressive economy too.
This latest A-Class has enough of the famed glide-like Mercedes ride quality to make it a very comfortable car to travel in - I know because I did a journey that covered the entire length of the M6 and more besides.
It also handles nicely, with manners that make it a driver's delight and again a real step up from its predecessor.