2019 Mercedes A250e review: price, specs and release date
The Mercedes A250e is a plug-in hybrid with an impressive electric-only range. Is it any good, though?...
Priced from £32,000 (est) On sale Late 2019
If you’ve already got your order in for an iPhone 11, follow Elon Musk religiously on Twitter and are always on the lookout for the next exciting new bit of tech, the new Mercedes A250e might just be the hatchback for you.
Like the Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 e-tron, the A250e is a plug-in hybrid. That means the regular engine under the bonnet is assisted by an electric motor that’s powered by a battery that can be charged from the mains. The result is punchy performance and the promise of exceedingly low running costs.
The easiest way to spot the hybrid A-Class from a regular one is by looking for the ‘EQ Power’ badges on the front wings, and of course the A250e text on its rump. If you really play spot the difference, you’ll also see that it has a flap for fuel on each side; the one on the left is for petrol, the one on the right for electricity.
2019 Mercedes A250e driving
The A250e uses a 1.3-litre petrol engine that's good for 157bhp, with the electric motor boosting this to a healthy total output of 215bhp. Official emissions of 33g/km make it an exceedingly tempting company car with a mere 16% BIK rate, dropping to 12% from next year. Official combined fuel economy of 201.7mpg takes into account the electric-only range; after our drive, we saw a still-impressive 60mpg on the trip computer, using a mixture of petrol and electric power.
You also get several driving modes on the A250e. As well as the usual Comfort and Sport, you also get two new ones: Electric and Battery Level. The latter limits your power to give the longest electric range possible, whereas the former gives you silent electric-only running at full power even if you floor the accelerator pedal.
On the topic of running on electric power, the official range is up to 42 miles, which should be plenty for city dwellers or those with an average commute. In electric mode you get nippy, silent acceleration that is good up to motorway speeds and beyond, so you can easily keep up with fast-moving traffic. You can top up the A250e from a 7kW wall charger from 10-100% in an hour and a quarter.
However, once the petrol engine is needed, it awakens noisily, and the A250e switches between power sources with a noticeable jolt. Wind noise can be quite intrusive at high speeds, too.
You can adjust how much regenerative braking you get via the steering wheel paddles, taking it from barely noticeable to "Hey, I don't need to touch the brakes at all". Speaking of which, brake feel in the A250e is poor. Compared with those of most regular cars, the brakes on the A250e are rather grabby and inconsistent in their responses. While no hybrid car has mastered brake pedal feel yet, the A250e is far from the best.
The whole hybrid system has added about 200kg to the total weight of the A-Class, and that has an effect on handling. Non-AMG A-Class models were never the last word in driving fun, but the A250e leans more in fast corners and runs out of grip sooner. Overly light steering with little sense of connection to the front tyres doesn't give you much confidence in bends, either. So even though the A250e's 0-62mph acceleration time of 6.6sec is similar to that of the Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch, you won't be able to keep up with the fast Ford in a challenging sequence of corners.
At that point, it's best to back off and enjoy the additional comfort the extra weight of the hybrid system brings. The A250e remains composed over surface imperfections and doesn’t jostle you around over bigger bumps such as sleeping policemen. There’s a slight shudder over manhole covers and drains but nothing to really bother you.
2019 Mercedes A250e interior
Inside, it’s pretty much identical to the regular A-Class, with big digital displays, sweeping curves and discreet ambient lighting. But although everything looks good, it doesn’t feel as solidly screwed together as the Audi A3. New for the A250e are hybrid-specific displays for the digital dials that tell you how much electric power you’re using, your range and the level of regenerative braking you’ve selected.
As for passenger space, it remains unchanged, thanks to the battery being positioned under the rear seats and a smaller, 36-litre fuel tank. The rest of the electrical equipment is tucked under the boot floor, so you lose the little bit of underfloor storage of the regular A-Class. Mercedes says the boot space is unchanged, but we’ll wait for the official figures in order to be sure, because the boot floor looks a tiny bit higher than before to our eyes.