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

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 TFSIe and Volkswagen Golf GTE vs Mercedes A250e rears
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Our verdict

It’s a close-run contest, with each contender having specific strengths and weaknesses. But while we can certainly see the appeal of the Golf’s punchy performance and lengthy kit list – not to mention the breadth of ability its optional adaptive suspension brings – it's last here, because it's the priciest to buy yet has a disappointing interior and infotainment system.

The A-Class is much better in both respects, plus it combines swift performance with a mostly comfortable ride and the best all-electric range. However, the unpolished feel of its hybrid system, its relatively thirsty petrol engine and its so-so handling count against it, handing victory to the A3.

This blends comfort and handling agility extremely well, while performance is more than sufficient for the everyday grind. With the most appealing interior, a great driving position, easy-to-use controls and, crucially, the lowest running costs of the group, the A3 is the one we’d sign on the dotted line for.

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1st – Audi A3

Audi A3 40 TFSIe 2021 front cornering

For Best ride and handling balance; classiest interior; lowest running costs
Against Higher company car tax with 18in wheels; touchscreen mounted a bit low
Recommended options Comfort and Sound Pack (£1195), metallic paint (£575)

What Car? rating 5 stars out of 5

Read our full Audi A3 review >>

Find Audi A3 deals >>


2nd – Mercedes A-Class

Mercedes A250e 2021 front cornering

For Longest electric range; comfortable on the motorway; quickest to charge; biggest boot
Against Thirstiest and noisiest petrol engine; least polished hybrid system; sometimes untidy handling
Recommended options Metallic paint (£595)

What Car? rating 4 stars out of 5

Read our full Mercedes A-Class review >>

Find Mercedes A-Class deals >>


3rd – Volkswagen Golf

Volkswagen Golf GTE 2021 front cornering

For Punchiest performance; well equipped; most comfortable; additional standard safety kit
Against Priciest to buy or finance; poor wet-weather traction; shortest electric range; poor infotainment
Recommended options Metallic paint (£625)

What Car? rating 4 stars out of 5

Read our full Volkswagen Golf GTE review >>

Find Volkswagen Golf deals >>


Specifications: Audi A3 40 TFSIe S line

Audi A3 40 TFSIe 2021 rear action

Engine 4cyl, 1395cc, turbo, petrol; electric motor
Peak power 201bhp (combined)
Peak torque 258lb ft (combined)
Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic
0-60mph 7.2sec
30-70mph 5.9sec
Top speed 141mph
30-0mph 9.7m
70-0mph 54.5m
Noise @ 30mph 62.9dB
Noise @ 70mph 68.4dB
Fuel tank 40 litres
Official economy 282.5mpg
Test economy 41.4mpg (with battery depleted)
Official electric range 40 miles (on 17in wheels)
Test electric range 20.8 miles (on 18in wheels)
Charging time (0-100%) 4hr 30min (approx)
CO2 emissions 26g/km


Specifications: Mercedes A-Class A250e AMG Line Premium

Mercedes A250e 2021 rear action

Engine 3cyl, 1332cc, turbo, petrol; electric motor
Peak power 215bhp (combined)
Peak torque 332lb ft (combined)
Gearbox 8-spd dual-clutch automatic
0-60mph 7.3sec
30-70mph 5.3sec
Top speed 146mph
30-0mph 10.6m
70-0mph 59.2m
Noise @ 30mph 61.9dB
Noise @ 70mph 67.7dB
Fuel tank 35 litres
Official economy 282.5mpg
Test economy 35.8mpg (with battery depleted)
Official electric range 45 miles
Test electric range 22.2 miles
Charging time (0-100%) 2hr (approx)
CO2 emissions 24g/km


Specifications: Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI GTE

Volkswagen Golf GTE 2021 rear action

Engine 4cyl, 1395cc, turbo, petrol; electric motor
Peak power 241bhp (combined)
Peak torque 295lb ft (combined)
Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch automatic
0-60mph 6.8sec
30-70mph 5.2sec
Top speed 140mph
30-0mph 9.7m
70-0mph 53.2m
Noise @ 30mph 61.9dB
Noise @ 70mph 68.3dB
Fuel tank 40 litres
Official economy 246.1mpg
Test economy 37.9mpg (with battery depleted)
Official electric range 40 miles
Test electric range 19.3 miles
Charging time (0-100%) 3hr 40min
CO2 emissions 26g/km

Weather conditions Wet


Cars pictured

Audi A3 40 TFSIe S line with Tango Red metallic paint (£575) and digital Matrix headlights (£675)

Mercedes A-Class A250e Premium Plus with Digital White metallic paint (£595)

Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI GTE with Dolphin Grey metallic paint (£375) and 18in alloy wheels (£600)