Mercedes plans to overhaul its lineup in the coming years, kicking off with an "Entry Luxury" class to replace today's compact models. There will be fewer models in this segment as the German premium brand has already announced it'll go down from seven to four cars. One of the surviving models will be the CLA, seen here in the first-ever electric guise in northern Europe during a bad day at work.

The man with the camera claims the smallish EV was heading back to Mercedes' test centre in northern Europe but it didn't make it there without some assistance. About six miles (10 kilometres) before arriving at its destination, the prototype was seen crawling to make the most out of the precious juice it still had in the battery. That didn't work as it ultimately came to a halt due to a completely depleted battery pack.

Mercedes EQA / CLA Saloon Spy Photos

It stopped at approximately 1.6 miles (three kilometres) away from the test centre and had to be towed for the remaining distance by a good ol' diesel Sprinter. The prototype had a familiar silhouette and was likely hiding the production body but with fake door handles and provisional lights. While this CLA was completely electric, Mercedes intends to sell the car with combustion engines as well.

We will get our first taste of the new family of entry-level cars later this year when the three-pointed star will likely introduce a concept to preview next year's production car. The compact saloon will ride on the Mercedes Modular Architecture (MMA), developed primarily for EVs but with support for ICEs as well. This new car is expected to replace both the A-Class Sedan and CLA, with an estate planned alongside new GLA and GLB crossovers. The A-Class hatch and B-Class minivan are allegedly getting the axe.

Aside from receiving new underpinnings, the firm's smallest cars will also benefit from all-new software developed in-house. Known as the Mercedes-Benz Operating System (MB.OS), it'll incorporate a Google-based navigation system and work with sensors and LiDARs from Luminar. Level 2 and Level 3 self-driving functions through Nvidia's Drive platform have also been announced, along with over-the-air updates and YouTube integration.

Given the fresh start, it'll be interesting to see what names will be used for the new wave of compact cars. For what it's worth, Mercedes is believed to gradually phase out EQ branding for electric vehicles from 2024. It could mean the CLA-like model spotted here won't carry the two letters, nor will the electric G-Class previously referred to as the EQG.