First drive: Mercedes-Benz GLA 250e PHEV prototype review

So configured, the latest in what is now a long line of plug-in hybrid Mercedes models is quite pleasing to drive on open roads; the combined torque of the petrol engine and electric motor makes for a highly flexible delivery that allows the GLA 250e to pull tall gears with quite a bit of vigour, even at low revs.

That’s just as well because the gearbox is programmed to shift up into longer ratios quite smartly to maximise economy at all times.

The key to extracting the most from the drivetrain, of course, is keeping the battery topped up as the basis for the operation of the electric motor.

Charging of the battery, via a socket mounted on the right-hand-side rear, can be carried out using either AC electricity at up to 7.4kW or DC at up to 24kW. The respective charging times are put at 1h 45min and 25min respectively.

The ride suffers from the extra weight brought on by the 150kg battery compared with other more conventional second-generation petrol and diesel GLA models; there’s greater vertical movement over pockmarked bitumen. That said, the firmer spring and dampers help provide the GLA 250e, which uses a torsion beam rear suspension like its various plug-in hybrid siblings, with admirable body control. The electromechanical steering is also light but engagingly direct in its action. 

The packaging of the battery underneath the rear seat has reduced the size of the petrol tank to just 44 litres. However, boot capacity remains virtually unchanged from other new GLA models.

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Our time with one of Mercedes-Benz’s final GLA 250e prototypes was limited. Despite this, our first impressions are quite positive. Its performance in both electric and hybrid running is fairly strong. There’s a feeling of deep-seated engineering integrity about its complex drivetrain that impresses, whether tooling around town or out on the open road. Its ride is perhaps not quite as settled as other GLA models, but it does offer a range that will get most commuters to and from work on electric power alone. This alone makes it worthy of consideration.

Mercedes-Benz GLA 250e EQ Power prototype specification



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