First a short round of proposals: the Mercedes GLA 250e costs 50,102 euros and the Volvo XC40 Recharge T4 Plug-in Hybrid is for 44,495 euros in the price list. Both drive 35 to 40 kilometers on electricity and then the petrol engine starts. They can charge at any charging station and wallbox. Only the GLA can be equipped with a fast charging port, so that you can also go to Fastned, Ionity and other fast charging stations.
The Volvo XC40 is quieter
In the electric driving position, both plug-in cars roll whisper-quietly through traffic. As soon as the combustion engine kicks in, you only hear the expertly muffled sound of the three-cylinder in the Volvo. There is nothing intrusive about that. In the Mercedes you can hear it clearly when the compact four-cylinder is pulling heavily and depending on your car education you register that as ‘sporty’ or as ‘annoying’.
Good seats in both cars
That does not alter the fact that both brands do their best to make your stay on board as pleasant as possible. The front seats of the GLA and XC40 are comfortable, but the Swedes go a step further with a seat whose sturdy cheeks clamp your thighs in bends.
Long-legged passengers sit on the Swedish back seat with their knees pulled up and therefore prefer to move to the second row of seats in the Mercedes. There they enjoy deeper footrests and more freedom of movement.
The GLA has smoother suspension
The GLA also offers better suspension comfort, because it copes smoothly with small bumps. The XC40 absorbs bumps and other road congestion somewhat jerky. If you want to make the difference to your whole family, you will notice that a fully packed Mercedes bounces a bit over cross ridges. A loaded Volvo is a bit more confident about this. In combination with the finer seats and the silence on board, we experience the XC40 as the most comfortable car of the two.
“Light-footed cornering is not their thing.”
Driving characteristics: comfort first
Both plug-in hybrids weigh more than 1800 kilos and we would like to tell you that you don’t notice much of that while driving. But the reality is different: light cornering is not their thing. It probably won’t bother the intended customers, because they mainly want to sit high and comfortably and drive economically.
If the Volvo driver does encounter a true drivers’ road, he notices that large steering movements result in a leaning body and that the car indicates exactly where the boundaries are. The Mercedes steers more neutral and has noticeably more traction, but the ESP has the annoying property of suddenly and violently intervening. While the GLA steers tighter and leans less when cornering.
If you look purely at comfort, the Volvo XC40 Recharge T4 Plug-in Hybrid is the winner. And it is also cheaper than the Mercedes. But if you look at the complete picture, then the Mercedes GLA 250e has our preference. It is admittedly the most expensive car in this test, but you get better driveability and a finer drivetrain with lower consumption and a larger electric range in return.
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