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Plug-in hybrids: Athlon’s test drive takeaways

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Inspired by the motto ‘practice makes perfect’, about ten Athlon employees seized the opportunity to drive a plug-in hybrid for around a month. The test vehicles on offer were the 250e versions of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake and the GLA. This is what they learned and their advice to you!

Karim Hassani, Business Development Manager

I had driven a plug-in hybrid before so I knew what to expect. To get optimal use out of a PHEV, there are a few rules to follow: charge it often and, most importantly, use the navigation. That’s because the Mercedes-Benz navigation takes into account the traffic conditions, the type of road and the conurbation. This means the car can slow down early and save energy. It can also save the battery capacity to be able to drive electrically in built-up areas or in an LEZ.

I was able to drive an average of a good 40 kilometres emission-free on the battery – and in a cold January at that. That’s not bad at all. Another pleasant surprise was the MBUX infotainment system, which is very easy to operate via the “Hey, Mercedes!” command. In addition, the level of comfort and handling is high. If I didn't need seven seats (for my family), I would certainly consider this car for a daily driver!

Karim’s takeaway: If you want to increase efficiency and go further on the battery, use the integrated GPS. 

Cécile Liénard, Senior Product Manager

Driving these plug-in hybrids – especially in electric mode – is really enjoyable. It’s also stress-free when it comes to range because the combustion engine gets switched on automatically when the battery is empty. I had the opportunity to drive both the GLA and CLA Shooting Brake 250e and noticed that the indicated electric range varied a lot (from 48 to 72 km). That aside, the first few kilometres consume an enormous amount of energy while the car is still warming up, so heating your car in advance while it's still plugged in is a must!

All in all, for me this test was an excellent opportunity to familiarise myself with electric driving. I was able to complete most of my everyday journeys purely on electricity. Since the range of a 100% electric car is much greater than that of a PHEV, I would also have no problem doing my longer trips in a fully electric vehicle. For my new company car, I had a choice between a basic electric car or a plug-in hybrid with a generous safety equipment. For that reason, I chose the PHEV, but I was ready to go fully electric.

Cécile’s takeaway: Use the car’s pre-heating function while it’s plugged in to avoid wasting your precious battery power. 

Nicolas Tilman, Client Service Manager

The GLA is a hyper-connected car that you can completely adapt to your own profile. A real added value is the Mercedes Me application. You can easily install it on your smartphone and it gives you an overview of your route, the status of the battery and the tank, and the charging status. The pre-heating function is also a massive selling point!

The car drives very quietly in electric mode. When more power is required, the combustion engine and electric motor work together, but the gearbox is sometimes a little slow to respond. The comfort and support the seats give is excellent, as is the quality of the suspension.

I clocked up a total of 1,125 km in the car, 692 km of which were fully electric. Consumption averaged 3.4 l / 100 km and 16.2 kW / 100 km. On longer journeys, the fuel consumption will increase and the electrical consumption will decrease, but if you only occasionally drive more than 100 km between two charges, the balance remains very positive.

I wasn’t sure whether a plug-in would be right for me because I do quite a lot of motorway driving. However, the average consumption had me sold. I was also surprised by the number of charging stations available. I was able to find them directly using the car's navigation or via the New Motion app. In my opinion, charging while on the road is also a must for low fuel consumption.

Nicolas’ takeaway: Charge your plug-in hybrid whenever you get the chance. Finding a public charging station is easier than you think.  

For more information on how to make PHEV’s work economically and ecologically, you can also read our whitepaper, available for download here (French version)


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