Mercedes was caught cold by the sudden demand: no sooner was it possible to order the A-Class with a plug-in hybrid than it was over again. Within two weeks, 15,000 sales contracts were collected, then Mercedes imposed an order freeze. In itself, the huge demand was no wonder, because thanks to the abundant subsidies, the A 250e is financially close to much weaker models. Our test with a Mercedes B 250e showed that the drive is not a bad choice. He should have better chances in the CLA Shooting Brake, which we now had for a test in the editorial office. This shows that Mercedes has learned and is sometimes going its own way – for the benefit of the customer.
Mercedes affords the luxury of having two station wagons of almost the same length in its range, although the writers of press releases would of course never describe the CLA as such. The CLA Shooting Brake is based on the A-Class presented in 2018 and is therefore conceptually very different from the C-Class T-Model, which is also around 4.7 meters long. Front-wheel drive versus rear-wheel drive, dual clutch transmission versus automatic converter. Above all, however, the hybrid drive is integrated much more inconspicuously in the CLA.
In the C-Class, the plug-in hybrid drive not only reduces the trunk volume from 460 to 315 liters, but there is also a huge box on the rear seat backrest. In the CLA 250e, the luggage compartment is flatter than in the models with a single combustion engine, but free of such blocking blocks. With 445 liters it is also only 60 liters smaller than in the CLA 250. The trunk volume under the cover is larger than in the C-Class with hybrid drive, but it catches up powerfully if the space is to be used up to the roof. Because the rear window in the CLA is extremely flat. I can easily get three large buckets of grass clippings in the T-model with the only combustion engine, in the Shooting Brake at best two. Nevertheless, there is no question about it: the plug-in hybrid is more cleverly housed in the CLA than in the C-Class. Of course, it helps that there is only one battery in the rear of the CLA; in the C-Class there is still the differential.
E-motor in front of the gearbox
As far as the arrangement of the electric motor is concerned, Mercedes is treading the path that many are currently taking: the electric motor, powerful 75 kW in the CLA, is housed in the dual clutch transmission. This is not the most efficient option, because the power of the electric motor has to work its way through the transmission, which can also be felt in the form of gear changes. Better – and much more expensive – would be an electric secondary axle with which the car would drive electrically independently of the combustion engine.
To be fair, one has to say that Mercedes has coordinated the interaction of the two engines and the transmission in the 250e very harmoniously. The performance is far more than just good enough, we are at least talking about a station wagon with a system output of 160 kW (218 hp), which sprints to 100 km / h in under seven seconds and reaches a maximum of 235 km / h. In my opinion, more decisive than these values is how the car performs in everyday life. Overall, the CLA is well insulated, of course without competing with the more expensive C-Class in this respect. Only when everything is demanded from the 1.3-liter engine does it sound a bit tortured. However, you should not be fooled by the resulting impression, the CLA 250e is faster than it seems at these moments.
If you prefer a smooth driving style, you will hardly feel the gear changes of the dual clutch transmission. That only changes when you drive the car in a hurry – then the difference to the C-Class with its automatic converter becomes clear. The transitions between the aisles are barely noticeable there, but definitely in the CLA. Overall, however, the CLA also offers a high level of drive comfort, consisting of largely restrained acoustics and large reserves in terms of driving performance.
Mercedes goes lonely paths when it comes to charging. As standard, it ends at 3.7 kW on a wallbox. The pre-charger is fused with 10 A, which means that the maximum is reached at 2.3 kW at a 230-volt socket. But unlike almost all of its competitors, Mercedes offers considerably more speed for a surcharge. A two-phase charger is installed for 348 euros, with which up to 7.4 kW are possible. For a further 580 euros surcharge, there is also the option of using a direct current source with up to 24 kW – this is the absolute exception for plug-in hybrids, at least currently.
The lithium-ion high-voltage battery is water-cooled and weighs approx. 150 kg. It has a gross capacity of approx. 15.6 kWh. In the test, we filled them at 230 volts and at a fast charging station. The difference is striking: the charging losses at the 230-volt socket are higher than expected. Around 14.4 kWh were used there for a full charge, and only 12.4 kWh at the DC charging station. It is also remarkable how long the maximum DC charging power of around 24 kW is maintained – in the test up to an SoC of a little more than 90 percent. Only shortly before the end does it drop to around 15 kW. The battery was full again within 40 minutes.
Between 50 and 60 km
The display in the car suggested a range of 52 to 54 km. In the overland glide mode, the petrol engine did not have to intervene until after 60 km. With a bit more courageous driving style it was almost 50 km. The display in the instrument cluster suggested only 17 kWh / 100 km in places, but in the end it was more like at least 18 kWh / 100 km. As far as consumption in the car is concerned, this may be correct, but the electricity meter reveals what ultimately has to be paid for. In relation to the consumption at the fast charging station, it is 20.7 kWh / 100 km, at the 230 volt socket 24 – with a gentle driving style. If you are in a hurry, you will quickly find out real 27 kWh / 100 km plus X.