Is 2021 going to be the year of the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) instead of a bunch of new full-EVs? Too early to call, but we’re seeing more and more models being changed into a PHEV, and Mercedes-Benz is joining the call for the first time.

Not only that, but it’s the A Class they’re phevving. We love the A Class here at DriveLife, and a PHEV version that gets to 100km/h in 6.6 seconds sounds pretty tempting, not to mention 450Nm of torque in a car the size of the A Class.

Available to the A-Class hatch exclusively in the popular A 250 specification, apparently EQ Power creates a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario, with the A 250 e able to complete journeys around town of up to 73km in all-electric mode, solely using the electric motor (75kW/300Nm) and on-board battery (15.6kWh capacity), which can also recoup additional energy during braking.

A 1.3-litre, four-cylinder combustion engine (118kW/250Nm) comes into its own to complete longer road trips. Combined, the output of the hybrid powertrain is a healthy 160kW and 450Nm. Mercedes-Benz NZ says it can switch seamlessly between EV and ICE methods creates exceptional fuel economy opportunities in the order of 1.6L per 100km (ADR combined cycle), with tailpipe emissions measured at 34 grams/km CO2.

They also say that from the beginning, the architecture of the ground-breaking Mercedes-Benz A-Class was engineered to accommodate a PHEV drivetrain. The result is clever integral packaging with minimal practical compromise.
The water-cooled lithium-ion, high voltage battery weighs “just” 150 kilograms and requires only a small reduction to overall boot space to 310 litres.
This is assisted by the installation of a 35-litre fuel tank, plus an innovative exhaust system with a rear muffler housed in the transmission tunnel and a centrally positioned exhaust outlet under the floor.

For the first time on a Mercedes-Benz vehicle, the combustion engine is started by the electric motor – the A 250 e does not have a separate 12-volt starter. The A 250 e is equipped with a standard Type 2 plug, and are capable of delivering charge via AC power at a rate of up to 3.7kW.

To maximise the speed of charging at home or work, customers can choose a Mercedes-Benz Wallbox Home. This can be installed on regular single-phase power (by a qualified electrician) to deliver up to 7.4kW, or up to 22kW on three-phase power for further future-proofing.

Optionally, customers can purchase a DC Charging Package ($1990 MRRP), marking the first time this feature has been made available on a Mercedes-Benz PHEV passenger vehicle. This introduces fast DC charging at 24kW via a Type 2 CCS plug. Using DC charging, it may be possible to charge from 10 per cent capacity to 80 per cent in as little as 25 minutes. In addition, the Charging Package upgrades the AC charging system to 7.4kW.

The A 250 e drives power to the front wheels via an 8G-DCT Hybrid eight-speed auto, becoming the second model in the A-Class range to receive an eight-speed transmission (in addition to the Mercedes-AMG A 45 S, with an AMG SPEEDSHIFT DCT 8-Speed). The combination adds up to highly efficient motoring designed to maximise the all-electric range.

However, the combined output of the electric and petrol-powered motors, together with standard switchable driving modes, ensures the A 250 e hatch also can live up to the promise of the sporty look and sophisticated feel shared by the entire Mercedes-Benz A-Class range. Acceleration to 100km/h from rest takes 6.6 seconds for the A 250 e hatch.

Drive programs ‘Electric’ and ‘Battery Level’ are available. Maximum e-performance can be experienced in Electric. When selected, the combustion engine is only engaged if the driver extends the accelerator beyond the ‘kickdown’ point. In the Electric program the braking recuperation strength can be selected via paddles behind the steering wheel.
Comfort, ECO and Sport modes are also available. The driver is thus able to give priority to electric driving, place the emphasis on driving dynamics in combined drive mode, or give preference to combustion mode in order to save electric range, for example.

Key standard equipment includes 18-inch Aero alloy wheels, the intuitive MBUX infotainment system with voice control and a fully digital widescreen cockpit, NTG6 navigation, ARTICO upholstery, smartphone integration including wireless charging and LED headlights.

A key comfort feature is pre-entry climate control before the vehicle is started, as the A 250 e has an electric refrigerant compressor. This can be controlled via the Mercedes me Connect suite of services from a connected smart phone, which also includes remote vehicle status monitoring. Standard safety equipment includes Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keep Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, nine airbags, PRE-SAFE® accident anticipation system, and Adaptive High Beam Assist.

Pricing
The Mercedes-Benz A 250 e hatch is on sale now and available to order from Mercedes-Benz retailers from $72,300 (MRRP)

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How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on www.usa2nz.co.nz. We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm also an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.

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