Mercedes GLA 250e review: a successful hybrid crossover?

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A premium compact hybrid crossover. Very 2020…

Yes sir. Or better ha genau. This is the view of the three-pointed star formula. Mercedes uses the generic term EQ Power for its plug-in hybrids and they get an e on the badge. It’s the GLA250e. It may have the same powertrain on the related A250e, B250e, CLA250e and CLA 250e Shooting Brake.

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What does it consist of?

The usual bodywork of the Mercedes GLA carries the 1.33-liter engine that is also used, without a hybrid, in the 180 and 200 versions of all Mercedes compacts. But its 160bhp petrol power is augmented here by a transmission-driven, flywheel-mounted electric motor. That leaves a total of 218 hp and 332 pound-feet of torque.

At the rear is a battery with a usable capacity of 10.6 kWh. That gives it a pretty useful electric range of 37 miles WLTP.

But keep in mind that because the motor runs through the transmission, it’s front-wheel drive only, while some crossovers also have an electric motor to drive the rear wheels. Also note that, like all compact Mercedes, the battery under the rear seat means there’s no room for the multi-link rear suspension, so it’s just torsion bar.

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And how is it?

Not so good, if we’re honest. All compact Mercs are very spec-hungry: small engine hisses, torsion-beam suspension sucks for dynamics. So it’s true here. But there are good news.

Keep going…

Okay, let’s look at the hybrid system first. It’s effective, which is important. My experience shows that you can really count on 30 miles of all-electric range, which a 7kW charger can give you in less than two hours. And the power of the electric motor alone is enough for most urban commutes.

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But it is not very well integrated. You feel the steps when the transmission changes gear, with the engine on or off. This is especially noticeable when you’re slowing down, as the system collects regeneration even when you hit the brake pedal.

And if you’re hoping for the whole combo to act as a 218-hp hatch, let us ruin your hopes. Power delivery is messy, with the transmission occasionally grabbing multiple downshifts with a bang. The motor makes noise when under load. Not just noisy compared to the times it’s in electric mode, but a noisy end point.

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There is a twist direction if the surface is not smooth. And thick asphalt or concrete lead to ride roughness and road noise.

So a good car ruined?

Well, the GLA starts off on the right foot. It is well made and beautiful. The seats are great. There’s a surprising amount of space in the rear and in the trunk, not even the hybrid battery stole it. Sail solid. So from an urban and highway perspective, it’s fine, and it’s where most of the family driving happens.

I also think it’s good for taxes.

You are not wrong. Here are some financial statements, for the first three years, with a GLA 250 pure gasoline equivalent in parentheses. EDV is £280 (£1,170). BIK company car tax for an individual at 40% is £479 over three years (£16,390). And it’s also free for London’s congestion charge, which is now £15 every day except Christmas Day. Ho Ho Ho.

Score: 5/10


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