New Audi A3 TFSIe and Volkswagen Golf GTE vs Mercedes A250e: practicality

These plug-in hybrid family hatchbacks may be upmarket, but they promise bargain-basement running costs. Let’s see which is the best buy...

Audi A3 40 TFSIe 2021 rear seats

Space and practicality

Front space, rear space, seating flexibility, boot

Even those well over six feet tall will have plenty of head and leg room up front in all of our contenders, although the seriously long-legged will find the A-Class’s seat goes back the farthest, while the Golf has the most head room for those long in the body. The margins are small, as they are for storage space in the front, with all having good-sized door bins (most easily accessible in the Golf), somewhere to charge your phone and a couple of big cupholders.

Mercedes A250e 2021 rear seats

Move to the rear and again there’s enough head and leg room for lanky folk – even sitting behind someone the same size. There’s not as much room to stretch out as there is in a Seat Leon Hybrid or Skoda Octavia iV, though. If you do have tall friends, it’s the A-Class that has the most head room by a small margin over the Golf, but it also has the least leg room, with the A3 and Golf tying on this score. Fitting three adults side by side is a bit of a squeeze in all three, although the middle passenger will probably prefer the A-Class, because it has the smallest central floor hump to straddle.

Like most PHEVs, our contenders have smaller boots than their conventionally powered counterparts. That said, the A3 and Golf can still swallow the same number of carry-on suitcases as the regular versions (five). The A-Class can also hold five cases – one less than other versions – but there’s room left over, whereas it’s a tight squeeze in its rivals.

Volkswagen Golf GTE 2021 rear seats

To help practicality further, the A3 and A-Class have handy 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats to give greater flexibility than the Golf’s 60/40 split provides. At least the Golf gets a useful ski hatch for long, thin items that’s hidden by the central rear armrest. If you intend to haul any flatpack furniture, you’ll be pleased that there’s no step up to the folded rear seats from the main boot floor and little in the way of a load lip, making it easy to slide long items up to the backs of the front seats.


Boot space

Audi A3

Audi A3 40 TFSIe 2021 boot

Boot 280-1540 litres Suitcases 5


Mercedes A-Class

Mercedes A250e 2021 boot

Boot 310-1580 litres Suitcases 5


Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf GTE 2021 boot

Boot 273-1505 litres Suitcases 5


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