Mercedes-Benz kicked off 2019 with the debut of its new CLA-Class compact “coupe” saloon. Interestingly, the car was revealed not at a major auto show or standalone event, but at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Flash forward nearly a full year, and spy photographers camped out in the snowy northern reaches of Sweden caught a couple of CLAs with black tape over part of their badges, some round yellow stickers, and an extra fuel filler door on the right rear. The combination can only mean one thing – plug-in hybrid versions of the CLA are coming soon.
How do we know these are plug-in hybrids? For starters, the aforementioned yellow stickers are required for test vehicles utilising some form of electric motivation. The casual observer probably wouldn’t think twice about seeing a fuel door on the rear of these Mercs, but they also wouldn’t notice a second door on the other side. In this instance, liquid fuel goes into the left door, and a charging plug for electricity hidden on the right.
If that’s not enough, the daring photographer got up-close and personal with the black tape covering the rear badge. Curiously, Mercedes leaves the CLA portion free and clear, but it’s easy to see 250e outlined beneath the tape. So here are the new CLA 250e and CLA 250e Shooting Brake before Mercedes wants you to see them.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz CLA PHEV spy photos
Extra fuel door notwithstanding, they obviously look just like the standard CLA on the outside. We expect much the same thing inside, but under the bonnet, our sources tell us to expect a 1.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder mated with a 75-kilowatt electric motor. All total it will produce 218 bhp, and if it sounds familiar, it’s the same powertrain used in the new A250e PHEV revealed back in August. In the slightly larger CLA, the all-electric range is expected to be between 37 and 43 miles per Europe’s WLTP testing program.
As for when it will debut, it’s tempting to say it will show up at the 2020 CES Show in Vegas, which is just a few weeks away. Mercedes will be there again, and there’s certainly some symmetry in unveiling another CLA with hybrid technology. There are already other plans in place, however, and as far as we know they don’t include the CLA. With that in mind, an official reveal later is 2020 is the most likely scenario.