From Milan to Lecco (and back) with the Mercedes Gla 250e with the "intelligent" plug-in hybrid

The new hybrid engines at the plug of the star exploit an intelligent system capable of modulating the use of the electric motor with the thermal one to optimize consumption and emissions. The test with the GLA 250e

Salvatore Amoroso

– Milan

The road to total electrification of the car now seems to have been traced, but the goal cannot be achieved without intermediate stages and alternative technologies such as hybrid engines, in all their facets. Even Mercedes has decided in recent years to equip its models with different hybrid and fully electric solutions, offering several alternatives to its customers. The EQ Power range goes in this direction, an acronym that encompasses models equipped with plug-in hybrid engines, a technology that is closest to the concept of electric and which Mercedes considers strategic in view of 2030, the year in which the company of Stuttgart expects to have an offer consisting only of vehicles with a zero-emission engine. We had the opportunity to test the Gla 250e, a compact SUV that represents one of the best sellers among the 15 plug-in hybrid models of Mercedes, on a route that from Milan crossed Brianza to reach Lecco.

Mercedes Gla 250e: the exterior

It is the most compact of the Mercedes SUVs in the range, from the top of its 441 cm in length and a width of 183. The height, on the other hand, is 161 cm (a figure that rises by 10 cm more than to the previous generation). Aesthetically, the SUV appears elegant and minimal, with smooth and soft surfaces without edges but at the same time muscular and important. The nose and the rear recall the stylistic features of the latest Mercedes models, with the central grille crossed by a single plank and the High Performance Led headlights with daytime running lights that are doubled at the rear. The increased height allowed the Stuttgart designers to enlarge the size of the rear window, for a line that abandons the coupé setting of the previous model, a solution that reduces its sportiness but has allowed the interior space to be remodeled.

MERCEDES GLA 250E: the interior

Internally, the SUV has improved habitability compared to the previous generation thanks to the greater overall height. The cleanliness of the external shapes is also found in the internal setting where the lines of the Mercedes Mbux stand out, the totally digital dual-screen multimedia system. Both the instrument panel – fully customizable – and the infotelematics system are, optionally, 10.25 ‘”. The climate controls are still physical, separated from the infotainment system by the three ventilation outlets with a turbine design. In the tunnel Central, however, is the driving mode selector and the trackpad with which it is possible to interact with the central screen. In the model protagonist of the test, the plate for induction charging of the smartphone is present. Imposing the steering wheel, where they are present several physical and touch buttons from which the customization of the instrument panel and the main driving settings are managed. Mercedes has reserved space behind the steering wheel for the automatic gearbox selector together with the paddles that can act both as sequential gearbox and as a selector for the five different levels of energy recovery when driving in Electric mode. At the rear there is ample space for two passengers, with the pos sibility of hosting a third without excessive sacrifices. The seats are foldable in the 40:20:40 configuration.

Mercedes gla 250e: engine

Under the hood of the Mercedes Gla 250e there is a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder turbo petrol engine capable of delivering a power of 160 Hp, a figure that rises to 218 Hp when considered in combination with the electric unit: a synchronous engine whose power stands at 75 kW (102 Hp). The electric powertrain itself can boast a new first for Mercedes because it also acts as a starter for the heat engine, a solution that allowed the Stuttgart technicians to do without the separate starter motor. As for recharging, Mercedes declares times to be able to go from 10 to 100% of the battery in an hour and 45 minutes with a 7.4 kW AC wallbox, while if you have a 24 kW in direct current the times are drastically reduced: about 25 minutes to go from 10% to 80% of charge.

Mercedes GLA 250e: how is it going

The test was carried out on a mixed route of about 80 km that led from Milan to Lecco and continued until it reached Valletta Brianza. A journey moved by flat and hilly stretches that took place both on urban roads, with speed limits of 50 km / h, and on secondary suburban roads, with a limit of 90 km / h. It was a very similar journey for those who use the car both in the traditional home-work, and for those who do not want to give up longer journeys. The test, on the other hand, did not take into account motorways and, therefore, speeds above 100 km / h. Absolute comfort is the first thing you notice once you have found your driving position, thanks to the padding of the seats, the general soundproofing of the car, a suspension that is never rigid despite the 19 “alloy wheels and the prevailing electric mileage. This last point is the most interesting, because the electrified system of the Gla 250e is managed by a software able to understand independently – in comfort driving mode – when to use only the 75 kW electric motor and when to switch to mixed or thermal only mode. All this happens thanks to a triangulation between the driver’s driving style – how gentle is the pressure on the accelerator pedal – combined with speed. The reading of road signs contributes to the proper functioning of the system, a further ally of the software to understand if the journey takes place in built-up areas or outside. During the journey we traveled almost entirely by electric, with an inte wind of the heat engine reduced to moments when speeds exceeded the typical city distance or when you ran into a slope. At the end of the test, albeit a short one, out of a total of 80 km of distance, 60 were tackled in full electric, 75% of the journey. Total fuel consumption therefore stood at 2.2 liters per 100 km, a figure not too far from the 1.8 liters per 100 km declared by the manufacturer.

Mercedes gla 250e: strengths and weaknesses

Like it:

  • Comfort: on the Gla you have the feeling of living in a separate environment, thanks to the soundproofing of the passenger compartment and the seats. The sound of the heat engine, when it intervenes, is never abrupt.
  • Consumption: on short and medium journeys the combination of the thermal unit and the electric unit allows to reduce the consumption of the car to a minimum, with the possibility of being able to always travel in full electric the short urban journeys.
  • Build quality: Mercedes are no surprise in terms of quality of materials, assembled to the best. The Mbux system is always impressive, with the double monitor that catches the eye even when it is switched off.
  • Design: if the dimensions – larger than the previous generation – allow a better habitability, the shapes of the GLA are all too simple to the detriment of sportiness.
  • Trackpad: located on the central tunnel, more immediate management of the infotainment via the touch screen is preferred to control via trackpad. Its use requires constant use in order to be better mastered.
  • Instrumentation: complete, perhaps too much. You risk getting lost in the jungle of settings and commands. An unintuitive management that requires in-depth study (strictly when stationary). The ergonomics of the steering wheel can also be improved, at times too “chubby” in the handle.

conclusions

The Mercedes plug-in hybrid system is not an absolute novelty, but in Stuttgart they worked hard to optimize its potential, above all thanks to the software that is able to optimally manage the double soul of the engine and allows to optimize performance and consumption. Furthermore, the adoption of a similar system allows a full electric ride on short distances such as the classic commute from home to work, a way to minimize stops at the gas station and travel while minimizing vehicle emissions. Furthermore, Mercedes offers its customers the possibility of subscribing to the Mercedes Me Charge 2.0 service which from June 2022 will make available three packages to be able to use the over 350,000 charging points in the area at fixed and subsidized rates.

Mercedes Gla 250e: technical sheet

  • Thermal engine: in-line 4-cylinder turbo petrol, 1,332 cc displacement, power 118 Kw / 160 Hp, maximum torque 230 Nm.
  • Electric motor: power 75 kW (102 Hp), torque 300 Nm. Battery 15.6 kWh, electric range (Wltp) 53-61 km
  • Combined power: 160 kW (218 HP), system torque 450 Nm. Front-wheel drive, eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
  • Dimensions: length 441 cm, width 183 cm, height 161 cm, wheelbase 273 cm, trunk 420 / 1,220 dm3, mass in running order 1,775 kg.
  • Performance: max speed: 220 km / h, acceleration 0-100 km / h 7.1 seconds; CO2 emissions: 38 g / km
  • Price: from 52,552 euros



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