Cars with batteries are very much a reality for many of us now, and it’s important both socially and environmentally that we embrace this technology as soon as we can.
Fortunately for consumers, there’s a pretty wide choice available, and the variety is only getting bigger and better with every week that passes.
Enter Mercedes-Benz, and its wildly-popular A-Class hatch. This is the plug-in hybrid variant, so called the A250e. It’s far from Merc’s first battery-carrying vehicle, but it is an important one for the German company.
Arguably the most accessible price-wise, the A250e is barely indistinguishable from the rest of the A-Class line-up when it comes to looks. Okay, there are a couple of ‘EQ Power’ badges on the bodywork, and an extra driving mode or two available via the infotainment screen, but maybe the appeal of A250e is that it’s so familiar.
Check out our review of the Mercedes-Benz A250e for our verdict…
Mercedes-Benz have really committed to this refreshed exterior design language, particularly with their non-SUV vehicles. Smooth, flowing lines play off smartly against sharp, angled headlight clusters and a sparkling grille.
It’s certainly a contrast to the previous A-Class, which was very clearly Merc’s first go at a ‘proper’ hatchback. [No, I will not inducting the ‘bread loaf on wheels’ first and second gen models into the A-Class multi-verse. They were too narrow, too upright, and just too un-Mercedes.]
In AMG Line spec, the A250e is a handsome thing from the front. It’s imposing without being muscular, and the aeroplane propeller-homage that halves the radiator grille is actually a really nice design touch.
On this hatchback model [remember, there’s also a saloon version of the A-Class too], the rear lights squint inwards slightly, but the body shape generally gives the A-Class a sophisticated, grown-up appeal not necessarily seen elsewhere in the sector.
Sure, the Audi A3 is the king [or queen] of premium, but the A-Class just has such a broad appeal. Young and slightly less-young drivers will have no concerns about being seen in it.
The front seats are good. In fact, the front seats are really good. That’s the first thing that strikes you when you slide into the cabin of the A-Class.
Granted, the vehicle tested is an AMG Line model, so it has a few bonus sporty bits, but these seats are a must. They’re low, cosseting, and comfortable. Whether it’s a B-road blast or M-road slog, you’ll exit the A-Class feeling fresh after your drive.
The steering wheel’s good too, by the way, especially so if you prefer a chunkier feel. It’s trimmed in leather, and has plenty of buttons to control both the infotainment system and digital driver display.
But what of the infotainment and digital driver display? Well, they’re both strangely basic on what is quite a decently spec’d car. Both screens are small and sit inside frankly-distracting large gloss black bezels. That’s a shame, but perhaps a good reason to go for an AMG Line Premium or even AMG Line Premium Plus model.
Notice how I was specific about the fact it’s the front seats that are good? That’s because the rear seats don’t quite match up. There’s plenty of legroom, but the bench itself is really low. Absolutely fine for kids, and the reality is that 90% of the time, kids are the only ones likely to use the rear seats. But for taller folk – adults included – you’ll probably sit with your knees high and thighs unsupported. That’ll quickly get old if you’re travelling any distance at all.
As the automotive world accelerates [charges?] rapidly towards an electrified reality, the combination of traditional combustion powerplant and battery aid is likely to make the most sense to the most people. You get the option to plug in and run on battery power alone for the vast majority of your journeys, but you also have the comfort of knowing that you can pull up at the Shell garage and stick some 95 octane in to get you home.
The other major upside of electric power – whether it’s primary or secondary power – is the way it makes a car go. As every other review of an electric car will tell you, electric power is virtually instant, unrestricted by the dusty chemistry of oil mixing with spark and oxygen. There’s no need to build revs; you just depress the accelerator pedal and the car takes off.
The A250e is no different, and the 44 miles of all-electric range is, for me, a real sweet spot. Ample reserves for most day-to-day errands, and you’re not needing to lump around hundreds of additional kilos of lithium-ion cells.
In the realms of the German automaker, there’s a three-way tussle for premium hatchback reign. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the Audi A3, and the BMW 1-Series.
The A3 had a big update in the early part of 2020, and it’s now bang up to date with the latest technology and efficient powertrains. The 1-Series has had a makeover too, though whether you like the new look is a subjective thing.
Then there’s the Volkswagen Golf. It remains the obvious recommendation if you’re looking for a well built, good value German hatchback, but the enemy of successful sales is ubiquity, and the Golf is nothing if not ubiquitous.
Let’s talk brass tacks. The Mercedes-Benz A-Class starts at a sniff over £24k. For that, you get alloy wheels, reversing camera, heated front seats, and keyless go, all of which are nice to have in the ‘entry level’ model.
The A250e plug-in hybrid – the model tested here – starts at £32,980. That gets you an AMG Line model with all the kit that goes with it, plus a powertrain comprised of 1.33-litre 4-cylinder engine and battery for an overall output of 262bhp. It’s a great blend of performance, style, and efficiency, and plug-in hybrid models will continue to be appealing to buyers in the used market, so you can buy with a decent amount of confidence that residuals will be good.
The Mercedes-Benz A-Class is a grown-up hatch for grown-up drivers. The A250e, then, is the obvious choice for grown-up drivers looking to take their first steps into an electrified world. It’s plenty powerful enough, plenty stylish enough, and there’s plenty of single-charge battery range to mean that most of your driving will cost you pence, not pounds.
Ready to explore the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class range? Get in touch with one of our dealerships in Chesterfield, Doncaster, Harrogate, Sheffield or York, or browse new and nearly new vehicles in stock right now!
The imagery and video in this review were shot on location at The Devonshire Arms Hotel in Bolton Abbey. Our thanks to them for allowing us to use their beautiful grounds.