With the Government’s announcement last year to ban the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles by 2030, electric and hybrid vehicles are a hot topic.
Of course, both have been around for some time now, but with PHEVs accounting for the majority of our long-termer fleet, the direction – and speed – of change is clear.
For most though, an alternatively fuelled vehicle is still unfamiliar ground. A hybrid is a perfect stepping stone for those with range anxiety. But, with current lockdown restrictions and a lack of a fast charger at home, the A class has spent the majority of its time using petrol power from the small 1,332cc engine.
However, even with zero electric miles showing in the ‘tank’, low speed manoeuvres such as crawling in traffic can still be performed without the use of the petrol engine.
It also continues to use the electric power to assist the petrol engine with a grin-inducing turn of speed when needed. The petrol engine is both quiet and refined and is returning a respectable average of 41.5mpg.
Mercedes Me app unlocks extra functions
Nowadays there are mobile apps for everything and more and more manufacturers are providing companion apps for their latest models. Mercedes-Benz is no exception with the Mercedes Me app.
The app requires registration and linking to your vehicle using the vehicle’s VIN and registration plate along with your personal details.
It provides useful information such as electric range and charging status, remaining fuel and trip data. The app also includes a doors lock/unlock function and the ability to remotely open and close the roof which I have yet to find a use for.
The car’s location is shown on a map within the app and includes the facility to flash the lights which could come in useful in a large car park.
One of the most useful features is the ability to set the interior temperature including the heated seats by departure time which is especially useful during the colder months.
It’s worth noting that this function does require charge in the high voltage battery, or the car to be plugged in.
Mercedes A 250 e AMG Line joins our long-term test fleet
Plug-in hybrids are a cross between an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor, meaning you have the option to drive electric-only on short city trips, or use the ICE (petrol or diesel) for longer journeys.
You have to plug in your car to charge the battery, but if you run out of juice the car will simply switch to the ICE which removes any range anxiety associated with fully-electric vehicles.
Another noticeable difference in plug-in hybrid cars is the responsiveness – the electric motor boosts the combustion engine under acceleration for smoother, more instant power.
Mercedes-Benz calls its range of electrically-assisted models EQ. It consists of fully-electric ‘EQ’ models, hybrid ‘EQ Power’ models and mild hybrid ‘EQ Boosts’.
The £37,425 (P11D) A 250 e on test here has a combined power output of 221PS from its 1.3-litre petrol engine and electric motor, an all-electric range of around 44 miles, combined fuel consumption of 256.8mpg and CO2 figure of 26g/km. It can be charged at a 7.4kW wallbox with within one hour and 45 minutes and five-and-a-half hours at a domestic socket.
Some of the standard equipment highlights for our AMG Line Premium Plus model are AMG bodystyling, 180-degree reversing camera, panoramic glass sunroof, heated electric front seats with memory function, augmented reality navigation, 10.25-inch digital instrument display with 10.25-inch touchscreen media display and voice control infotainment. Our car also comes with denim blue metallic paint at an additional £595 and driving assistance pack for £1,495 more.
The hybrid powertrain offers significant benefits to businesses and employees including 6% BIK, annual VED of £0 then £140, £310 Class 1A NICs and an overall running cost figure of 40.79ppm – around 7ppm cheaper than its equivalent ICE counterpart.
First impressions are positive, the cabin is luxurious with high quality materials throughout. However, due to a period of self-isolation, I have yet to fully enjoy all the A 250 e has to offer.