Given it’s essentially a jacked-up A-Class hatchback, it’s no surprise to find the GLA has been given the plug-in treatment. Under its rugged-looking skin is the same turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine (co-developed with Renault and Nissan) with an electric motor mounted on the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Both of these drive the front wheels, so there’s no four-wheel drive as on a BMW X2. The upside of this is greater efficiency, with the GLA capable of up to 39 miles between charges, although the BMW’s system is better integrated and more refined, plus it’s sharper to drive with a more settled ride.
Aimed at the Audi Q5 and Q5 Sportback, the plug-in versions of the GLC and GLC Coupé lose out on EV range as a result of their smaller, 13.5kWh battery, which results in a maximum claimed range of 28 miles. On the plus side, the petrol-electric powertrain is carried over from the E300e saloon, which means a healthy 316bhp output and a smooth and refined operation. There’s also 4Matic four-wheel drive, helping to give the GLC decent all-weather and off-road ability. The emphasis is on comfort when driving, but then what more do you want from an SUV? The Coupé version has less space for rear passengers and a smaller boot but costs around £2000 more. Go figure.
As with the 300e, the 300de takes its diesel-flavoured plug-in hybrid innards from the E300d, and like that car it makes a curious amount of sense. Yes, diesel isn’t very popular and it covers the same average 28 miles on a charge, but when the battery is depleted and you’ve got further to travel, the GLC will easily return 50mpg thanks to its 2.0-litre diesel, compared with mid-30s for the petrol. The four-cylinder unit is well insulated when it does chime in and has a healthy slug of low-speed torque for effortless progress. As with the petrol, you can have SUV or coupé bodystyles, with the less practical versions attracting a similar price premium, although both are rated at 11% for BIK.
Possibly Mercedes’ most convincing plug-in hybrid, the vast GLE 350de marries a frugal diesel engine to a large, 31.2kWh battery to deliver an impressive EV range of 58 miles and low running costs, especially for business users. The combination of the powerful lithium ion cells and 2.0-litre diesel results in a CO2 output of 29g/km, placing the GLE in a remarkably low 7% BIK band. It’s good to drive, in a relaxed and easy-going sort way – the well-integrated drivetrain shuffling smoothly between its ICE and electricity, while the ride is comfortable and the steering accurate. It also packs a spacious and beautifully finished interior, although as with the GLC, you can have the Coupé version that costs more but holds less.