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In-depth reviews

Mercedes A-Class hybrid performance, top speed & engine

The Mercedes A-Class hybrid is more than fast enough, but an unrefined drivetrain and unexciting handling let it down

Overall rating

4.0 out of 5

Performance, engine & drive rating

3.5 out of 5

Price
£40,745 - £46,590
Fuel Type:
Hybrid Petrol
0-62mphTop speedDriven wheelsPower
7.5s143mphFront215bhp

On the road, the A 250 e's hybrid system works very well. While older plug-in hybrids have a tendency to bring the petrol engine into play a little too readily, the car stays in electric mode even under quite strong acceleration and at fairly high speeds (up to 87mph, says Mercedes).

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On the downside, when you do have to call on the internal-combustion engine, you'll notice its harsh and thrashy character under hard throttle, which seems a bit at odds with the Mercedes image. The petrol engine is actually found in some Renault and Dacia models, too. Also less than ideal is ride quality: it's never overly harsh, but some rivals – such as the Volkswagen Golf – do better in this regard.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox can feel a little lumpen, which together with a sensitive accelerator pedal can make for a strange driving experience; the gearbox changes are at their least refined when the car is operating in pure-electric mode. In our experience, the switch between petrol and electric power is smoother than the first-to-second gearchange in electric mode.

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Drivers can select from one of four driving modes in the A 250 e: Electric, Comfort, Sport and Individual. As the name suggests, Electric prioritises zero-emissions running, Comfort aims to blend the motor and engine for the most efficient overall running, Sport keeps the engine on to give you maximum power and Individual allows you to set certain parameters to your own taste.

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Regenerative braking is offered in Electric mode, and its strength can be adjusted using paddles on the back of the steering wheel. One niggle is that, in Comfort mode, the same paddles are used to operate the gearbox, which can cause the engine to start up when you didn't intend it to.

Mercedes A-Class hybrid 0-62mph, top speed and acceleration

The A 250 e uses a combination of Mercedes’ tried-and-tested 1.3-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor for a combined output of 215bhp. That’s good enough for a swift 7.5-second 0-62mph time; it feels very eager, particularly from a standing start. 

Handling

As with the bulk of Mercedes cars, the A-Class is easy and comfortable for the driver, but it stops short of being engaging. There’s plenty of grip and the steering feels responsive, but keen drivers won’t be impressed with the lack of feedback. The well-judged suspension does a good job of striking a balance between comfort and body control, but larger lumps and bumps make their way into the cabin far too easily.

Of course, there's a weight penalty to pay for the addition of the hybrid battery (in the region of 150kg – like carrying two adults with you at all times), but while a keen driver on a twisty back road may notice a slight loss of agility, it's not going to be felt when cruising down the motorway or crawling around town.

The A-Class is easy to drive, but not especially rewarding: the steering is responsive enough, but with little feedback from the road surface, while the tyres are quite noisy – seemingly amplified due to the silence in electric mode. We were more disappointed with the ride, though, especially as our car came with Comfort suspension. It’s firm and not too uncomfortable, but other small hatchbacks and saloons ride better.

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Richard is editor of DrivingElectric, as well as sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, and a regular contributor to Auto Express. An electric and hybrid car advocate, he spent more than five years working on the news and reviews desk at Auto Express and has driven almost every new car currently on sale.

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