Mercedes unveils plug-in hybrid versions of the CLA and GLA

The compact luxury cars have enough electric range for most commutes.

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Mercedes is once more expanding the number of models with plug-in hybrid versions, and it might be particularly good news if you're looking for a less expensive ride. It just introduced PHEV variants of the CLA Coupe (aka sedan, pictured at center), CLA Shooting Brake (right) and GLA crossover SUV (left). All of them mate a 75kW electric motor with a 218HP, four-cylinder gas engine, theoretically giving you zero-emissions driving in the city with the reassurance of combustion if you need it. Not that you'll be leaning on fossil fuels much of the time -- Mercedes estimates 35 miles to 43 miles of electric driving (based on the WLTP test cycle) depending on your car, which should be enough for many commutes.

None of the cars will be blazing fast with 0-62MPH times hovering around 6.6 seconds, but the roughly 332ft/lb of torque should keep them moving when you need to overtake a car on the motorway. Mercedes has also promised that the electric system has a minimal impact on the trunk capacity, and its latest navigation tech can prioritize staying in electric mode for as long as possible.

The new CLA and GLA vehicles will be available to order this spring for at least the European crowd, with availability a "few weeks later." Mercedes hasn't divulged pricing for these new models, although it noted that the PHEV versions of the A-Class and B-Class sell for around €37,000 (about $41,300 US). It wouldn't be surprising if the CLA and GLA didn't cost much more. There's a good chance at least one of the models makes it across the Atlantic -- these are tailor-made for North Americans who may want a gas engine for the occasional cross-country trip.

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