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First Drive

First Drive: Mercedes-Benz A-Class PHEV

The story: Mercedes-Benz has stolen a march on its premium lower medium rivals with the launch of the A250e, which offers a battery range of over 40 miles and therefore drops into the 6% BiK band for 2020/21.
Category:Lower medium
Key rival:Audi A3
Efficiency:282.5 mpg
On sale:Now

Mercedes has very much broken new ground with the A250e, hitting an impressive 44-mile electric range figure that puts the A-Class into a company car benefit-in-kind band of just 6% for this tax year, something only the BMW X5e and Mercedes’ own B-Class sister PHEV can currently manage.First Drive-October 2020-Mercedes A-Class PHEV-Image 3

Audi will hit the same BiK band when the new A3 PHEV launches later this year, but for now every lower medium model sits at least four percentage points higher on the BiK table.

Coming in five-door hatch or four-door saloon shape, the A250e costs less than £2,500 more than the A250 petrol model, but a 40% tax payer will save almost £300 per month in BiK alone, before getting to the fuel savings – as long as it’s used as intended and plugged in at every opportunity. The A250e’s 6.6 0-62mph acceleration time is also only 0.4sec off the petrol model. That 40% tax payer will be hit by a bill of only £66 per month, while almost every other PHEV is over £100. Still reasonable when an entry A-Class diesel will be over £250 a month, but the A250e’s excellent range puts it in a great position from a company car point of view.

First Drive-October 2020-Mercedes A-Class PHEV-Image 6The real-world range doesn’t quite get to 40 miles, but it’s certainly a useable distance, and the packaging compromise of the PHEV loses 60 litres of boot space, but it’s still a reasonable 310 litres. Noticeable versus the petrol or diesel models, but not too tiny, given the running costs advantages to company car drivers.

The PHEV is offered in the top four trim levels running from AMG Line to AMG Line Premium Plus, with prices starting from just under £33,000, which is well-priced versus other PHEVs from less premium brands.

From a driving point of view, the powertrain is generally good, with the combined 218hp from 1.3-litre petrol engine and electric motor offering decent pace. It can though get a little confused between powertrains if you’ve pushed hard on the throttle and then ease off again, while the petrol engine’s refinement isn’t always the most impressive.

paul barker

The verdict

Undeniable leadership in terms of PHEV benefit-in-kind, and the A-Class’s other strengths of looks and cabin design and quality are present. The powertrain isn’t always the slickest though, and the small boot will be an issue for some.