Hint: big cars don't necessarily have to be priority.
Mercedes-Benz has been known to offer hybrids. Plug-in hybrids, even – like the current GLC 350e. But while it's offered the B-Class with an all-electric powertrain, it shied away from plug-in hybrid versions of its smallest models. That's all changing, though, with this latest announcement.
As part of the expansion of its new EQ sub-brand, the German automaker has revealed new plug-in hybrid versions of three of its subcompact models: the A-Class sedan (not pictured), A-Class hatchback, and B-Class minivan. And while announced for Europe initially, their launch bodes well for the US market, too.
The three new PHEVs share the same powertrain, marrying a 1.3-liter inline-four with a 75-kW electric motor, a 15.6-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission to deliver a combined total of 218 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. That's considerably more than the 188 hp and 221 lb-ft offered in the current A220 currently in US showrooms, and more torque than even the Mercedes-AMG A35. So despite the added weight, the A250e takes just 6.6 seconds to reach 62 mph from a standstill – a fair bit quicker than the A220's 7.1-second 0-60 time, though still a way's behind the A35's 4.6.
By integrating the fuel tank into the axle assembly, putting the battery under the rear seats, and shortening the exhaust pipes, Mercedes has kept the electrical components from intruding too much on cargo capacity. And the torquey powertrain allows the vehicle to tow over 3,500 pounds – so it could, in theory, pull another of itself on a braked trailer.
But none of that, of course, is what hybrid customers look for most. The A250e sedan consumes just 1.4 liters per 100 kilometers, which is nearly five times less than the conventional A220 we get here, which is rated by the EPA at 28 mpg on the combined cycle.
In the meantime, Daimler has opened the order books for the A250e hatchback and sedan in Europe, priced from €36,943.55 and €37,300.55, respectively – only slightly more than the A220 4Matic sedan that starts at €36,271.20 in Germany, or $34,500 in the US. Whether these models make their way to our side of the Atlantic or not, there will be more to come as Mercedes works to introduce 20 plug-in electrified vehicles by next year.