A compact hybrid from a quality stable, … but Value?….. hmmm
Depending on your point of view and intended usage, the new Mercedes-Benz A250e sedan plug-in hybrid is likely one of two things.
Either a well-sorted daily EV providing the option of longer trips with zero range anxiety and the convenience of a quick petrol refill, or a well-sorted daily EV saddled with lugging around a few hundred kilos of internal combustion engine that fires up only a few times a year.
Regardless of which camp you’re in, this new arrival into the electrified segment does bring some useful advances not seen from the likes of PHEVs that could be loosely considered competitors; cars like the Mini Countryman PHEV ($57,200) or the Volvo XC40 Recharge ($64,990).
For starters, the plug-in A-Class can be optioned (for $1490) with DC fast-charging capability for the 15.6kWh battery housed under boot.
This allows a decent whack of charge to flow into the car – say from 10 per cent to 80 – from a commercial charger in under 30 minutes.
Without it, the circa 60km of pure EV capability can be achieved in around 7.5 hours on a regular domestic supply, or 4.5 hours from a wall box fitted to your parking space from $1250.
If the stats are to be believed, most people drive fewer than 50km per day, so the range is adequate without the need for the 1.3-litre turbo-four to fire up.
Performance is sufficiently sprightly in EV mode, too, thanks to the generous whack of near-silent torque available at step-off.
You’ll choose EV mode as the default for daily driving, and not just as a fuel-saving measure: the lack of engine noise, elimination of gear-shuffling from the eight-speed dual-clutch and instantaneousness of the throttle response make it perfect for typical urban driving.
And if you do need to summon everything the combined driveline can muster, kicking the throttle pedal through the indent deep in its travel will wake the four-pot to deliver a seamless, swift burst of speed, albeit with a bit of high-rev raucousness.
Claimed 0-100km/h in this mode is 6.6 seconds, so not far short of the lighter, grippier AWD petrol A250, which gets there in a claimed 6.2sec.
The only slight downside for the hybrid is that its total combined outputs of 160kW and 450Nm are funnelled through the front wheels only, so there is a degree of torque steer and ESC intervention when you start throwing a heavy right foot at it on wet roads.
Oh, and it’s noticeably less nimble when driven swiftly in tight terrain than the A250 4Matic, due to the combined extra weight of the 150kg battery pack and 75kW motor that sits sandwiched between the engine and gearbox.
But that’s not enough to prevent the A250e still being a mostly cohesive, satisfying driving experience; one that allows plenty of user-tweakable flexibility.
For example, you can vary the braking re-gen via the wheel-mounted paddles, or choose ‘battery level’ mode that excludes the EV side of the powertrain, allowing you to cruise on a highway trip on the engine alone, and later utilise the available EV range when you arrive in town.
And of course the nav is sufficiently smart to guide you on a route either optimised for remaining charge, or one that takes in charging options.
Overall, as a value equation, you could never build a compelling case for the hybrid based on fuel savings alone. The list prices of $63,400 for the hatch and $66,000 for the sedan is around $6K steeper than you would pay for the A250 4Matic pair, and also sees some disappointing equipment omissions.
For example, you’ll be adjusting the front seats manually unless you option otherwise, and accommodated in a cabin trimmed in faux leather.
But for buyers wanting most of the EV driving benefits without making a full commitment to forgo bowser power, the A250e does advance the cause, and could be a handy bridging measure until Australia’s charging infrastructure proliferates.
Likes – Handy EV-only range; charging flexibility; seamless integration
Dislikes – Non-IRS rear end; tyre noise; manual seats at $66K?
Mercedes-Benz A250e sedan specs
Engine 1331cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo
Motor single speed, gearbox integrated
Battery 15.6kWh lithium ion
Max combined power 160kW @ 5500rpm
Max torque 450Nm @ 1600-4000rpm
Transmission 8-speed dual-clutch
0-100km/h 6.6sec (claimed)
On sale Now