Company cars come & company cars go & today thanks to government tax incentives, many are going quicker than ever. In order to attract the company car driver & appease the company car fleet manager, Mercedes-Benz
has started to bring out new plug-in hybrid models, to sit alongside it’s new electric EQC & EQA cars. The first one to make it to Company Car Towers, was the A250 e, benz’s most affordable plug-in hybrid.
Mercedes are keeping it simple. The A 250 e model is offered in both hatchback & saloon body styles, but only in higher-spec AMG Line-based trim levels. So you get to choose from AMG Line Edition costing just under £33,980, AMG Line Executive £34,480, AMG Line Executive Edition from £35,980, or AMG Line Premium Plus £37,480, with each costing around £1,500 more than the equivalent petrol model.
Engine & powertrain
The A250 e combines a turbocharged 1.3 litre 158bhp petrol engine with a 101bhp electric motor & a 15.6kWh battery, which altogether offer an output of 215bhp. It’s quick too with a 6.6-second 0-62mph time.
Charging & battery range
Plug in at home on a 7.2kWh walk box http://www.rolecserv.com/home-charging & a full charge takes about 2 hours. MB claims a 45 mile electric range, which in our real world test was closer to 32 miles, still better then most of the competition. Overall, Mercedes claim a combined mpg of 283 miles, which as we found out, is a little high !
Thanks to it’s 45 mile pure electric range & low CO2 emissions of just 24g/km, the A250 e comes with BIK as low as 7%, great news for your wallet & your accountant.
Drivers can select from one of four driving modes; Electric for pure electric driving, Comfort, which blends the electric motor & petrol engine for the most efficient driving, Sport, for more fun & Individual, which allows you to tinker with settings to your hearts content.
Equipment & specs
Standard equipment is good, with entry Edition featuring 18″AMG alloys, AMG body styling, a night package, sports seats & ambient lighting in 64 colours. If you choose the AMG Line Executive model, it comes with AMG Mercedes’ Parking Package as standard, which adds a reversing camera, active parking assistance, front & rear parking sensors & wireless phone charging. Standard equipment on the Exec model also includes the MBUX user experience with touchscreen interface with ‘Hey Mercedes’ intelligent voice recognition, with the larger 10.25″ touchscreen infotainment screen, plus Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.
Premium Edition further enhances this with keyless entry & the MB advanced sound system, whilst Premium Plus Edition at the top of the range, adds adaptive LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, memory seats & traffic-sign assistance.
Choose the Executive model or above & you’l get the lovely MB 10.25″ touchscreen system. It looks brilliant & once you’ve worked out how to utilise its functionality, it’s head & shoulders above the rest of infotainment on offer in this sector. The screen in front of the driver shows driving info & data, while the central screen caters for infotainment & SatNav functions. The SatNav is excellent & when approaching junctions this features a forward facing camera & in real time superimposes arrows on the screen which remind you of where to turn next.
Controlling it though is a little fiddly, as you navigate your way around the infotainment system’s centrally mounted controller. A few days in & we had this sussed, so over time so will you.
The quality impresses. From the five air vents across the dashboard, to the steering wheel controls, dashboard top & central binnacle, all are top-notch. The seat finishes are neat & tidy, the steering wheel control functions simple to work out. Once you get used to the idiosyncratic gear lever on the steering column & seat adjusters on the doors, it’s a great cabin to be in.
Passenger space is unchanged from the petrol & diesel versions, with significantly more room then the previous model. It’s 14mm longer, offers +9mm of front & +22mm of rear shoulder room, + 35mm /36mm of elbow room & +7mm/+ 8mm of headroom more than the Mk1. Access to the rears seats is also a lot easier.
There’s definitely more room in the cabin than before & this space is comparable to the latest BMW 1 Series & A3 Sportback. The front seats though, do block out light in the back & the cabin can feel a little dark, Cabin storage is good, with door pockets big enough for a large bottle of water, a covered centre-console cubby for your phone & car keys. There’s also two central drinks holders & under armrest space as well.
Due to the lithium-ion batteries taking up space under the boot floor, the A 250 e loses boot space, with 310 litres offered ( 1,120 litres seats folded ) compared to the standard petrols’ 370 litres ( 1,210 litres seats folded )
Rear seats when are practical though, with a 40:20:40 split, meaning you can have two passengers on board & still have space for a longish load.
You sit low down in the drivers seat & the cabin feels sporty. Internal lighting is cleverly focused from above your head switchgear. The hand brake is now a push button to the right of the steering wheel, with the auto gear lever on the right hand side of the steering wheel, lights & wipers are accessed via the stalk on the left side of the wheel.
We spent a week in the A250 e & overall, thoroughly enjoyed it. A journey to south London & back over a Bank Holiday weekend showed the car at it’s best. Despite spending four hours each way in the cabin, I found the seats super-comfortable & escaped with no aches & pains whatsoever.
On the motorway the car is so easy to drive. Taking advantage of Adaptive Cruise Control, you can select your speed, sit back & relax as the miles disappear before you. A word of caution. We charged our battery to full for the journey south, aiming to utilise the electric rang in London’s stop-start traffic. Before you leave though, you’ll need to enter the cars Home touchscreen & go into the EQ settings to prevent the car using your electric range on the motorway. You simply select the Electric in the city function & you’ll keep that electric range for city driving only. I would suggest leaving this on all of the time.
On a series of Cheshire A & B roads, the A250 e drove decently as well. The battery does add some weight,150 kg to be precise, but the extra weight is not that noticeable, so handling isn’t as badly compromised as in many other plug-in cars. Steering is light & precise.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox isn’t the smoothest we’ve encountered, but it does the job. There are paddles on the back of the steering wheel & if your feeling adventurous you can use these to change gears manually, but only in Comfort, Sport or Individual mode. In Electric mode, the paddles activate higher or lower levels of regenerative braking, which is a good way to keep that battery charged up.
We only have one & that’s the noisy ride. Whether it’s the addition of the battery, the wheels & tyres on our test car or a combination of all three, the A250 e let’s an awful lot of road noise into the cabin. The cars suspension is good & actually does a great job of stifling away any unwanted bumps. But, at motorway speeds, travelling over older motorway tarmac, the cabin noise is very intrusive.
Beautifully put together, great infotainment system, comfortable seats & highly desirable. Add in the low BIK & the fact that it costs only a little bit more to buy or lease than a standard petrol A Class, make this a company car drivers dream.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better premium plug-in hybrid tax avoider than the A250 e. The claimed combined mpg of 283 miles, as with all PHEV’s, is nigh on impossible to achieve. However, as we discovered, 70 mpg is infinitely possible, as long as you plug-in regularly, utilise the brake regeneration & select Electric in the City from the EQ menu.
On the downside, cabin road noise is noticeable & in that respect, direct competitor the Audi A3 TFSI e is definitely a lot quieter. But, the Audi takes twice as long on a home wall box to charge from empty to full than the Merc, 4 hours, also has a lower pure electric range 41 compared to the A Class’s 45 miles, comes with 30 litres less space in the boot & doesn’t feature the Mercedes-Benz’s fabulous digital cockpit.
Knock on your fleet manager’s door now ! 4.25/5