By on January 13, 2013

Just in case you need further proof that luxury has been democratized, Mercedes-Benz has blessed us with the CLA250. It’s got front-drive, a 208 horsepower turbocharged 4-banger, and it looks like a pastiche of every M-B design and “lug-zhu-ree” styling cue in existence. Yech.

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72 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz CLA250 Debuts, $299/Month Lease Deals To Follow...”


  • avatar
    npbheights

    Just when Cadillac gets the C-class fighter formula right, Mercedes copies the Cimarron formula …

    • 0 avatar
      OnlineAlias

      I wish there were upvotes here, that comment wins the internet.

    • 0 avatar

      Thing is, everyone who wants a Benz and only has this much money is gonna flock to it.

      It’s going to succeed.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s amazing how many people are calling “fail” when the simple fact is:

        #1 People buy a Mercedes Benz/BMW simply because they want to be able to say they drive a Benz or BMW. This isn’t about actually “driving” anything.

        You guys make it sound like the vast public is used to RWD, manual shifting corner cutters when the average American is rolling a TOYOTA CAMRY.

        #2 PRICE IS KEY. It has to be just expensive enough to keep the riffraff out, but not so expensive that it cheapens the brand image.

        And as for the people insulting the looks: If mercedes had hurried up and released the 2014 S550, I’d never have traded my 2007 for a Jaguar XJ-L.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Absolutelly. All those people cross-shopping Audi A4′s and BMW 3-series, don’t give a rat’s ash about RWD and FWD. All they care about is driving something a little more exclusive than a Camry.

      • 0 avatar

        “All they care about is driving something a little more exclusive than a Camry”

        Really? Why not to buy Mazda or Suzuki or Mitsubisi or Mercury or Lincoln?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        “Really? Why not to buy Mazda or Suzuki or Mitsubisi or Mercury or Lincoln?”

        Really? Suzuki is done. Mercury is done. Lincoln is failing. Mitsubishi is failing. Mazda is okay. But those are the

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        “Really? Why not to buy Mazda or Suzuki or Mitsubisi or Mercury or Lincoln?”

        Really? Suzuki is done. Mercury is done. Lincoln is failing. Mitsubishi is failing. Mazda is okay. But those are nearly the worst examples you could give of something “more exclusive than a Camry.”

      • 0 avatar

        Well, I guess Mazda, Lincoln and even Suzuki are considerably better than Camry.

    • 0 avatar

      Did not get it. CLA 250 is not based on Chevrolet FWD platform and ATS is BMW 3-series fighter.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        It’s unfortunate that it is not based on a Chevrolet because if it was based on the 2 liter Malibu turbo four it would have more power and interior room. Better quality also.

      • 0 avatar
        npbheights

        You are right … Cadillac only wants potential 3 series buyers. No one considering a 3 would also think about trying a C-Class or A4… Only the ATS competes for that buyer. And Mercedes would have to built on a GM platform for my statement to make sense. A front wheel drive, transverse 4 has nothing in common with the layout of the Cimarron.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        npbheights, we have just come off of 2 A4 quattros, great cars, both bought in preference to 3-series and C-class. We didn’t look at ATS, but rejected the (now bloated) 3 and A4 in favour of the new B-class. It is an outstanding automobile, which M-B have now brought to Canada.
        I don’t understand what the CLA250 is about, in all honesty. Is it meant to compete with the A3 sedan, for those who are too snobbish to look at a hatchback design?

      • 0 avatar
        Manic

        Buick Verano would be better candidate for Cimarron 2 name. This MB fights with that Buick and with Audi A3, BMW 1 Series, Acura ILX.
        Btw. love how basic, humble platforms (Opel Astra, Honda Civic, VW Golf) can be somehow sold as Luxury cars with little re-branding and adding some options.

    • 0 avatar
      potatobreath

      I don’t get the Cimarron formula comment as well. The Cimarron formula was about Brougham-ing up a Cavalier. Maybe if the CLA250 was an obviously rebadged and facelifted Chrysler Sebring I could see the analogy, but it isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The Cimmaron was not a complete joke because Cadillac sold a Chevrolet as a Cadillac. Cadillac had been sharing platforms with Chevrolet since at least the early ’70s. The Cimmaron was a complete joke at the time because:

      1) It failed to be a traditional American luxury car because it was compact and had a four cylynder engine.

      2) It failed to be serious competition against German luxury cars because it was front wheel drive.

      Mercedes is betting that the market has changed since then. In an age where autertity, and not needlessly wasting money on depreciating assets, are status symbols within themselves (truly wealthy people drive Yukons, not Escalades), an age where Dacia is setting sales records in Mercedes’ home country, Mercedes needs to hope that badge snobbery prevents potential buyers from noticing, for example, the similarly sized, similarly European designed, similarly front wheel drive with struts Ford Focus.

      • 0 avatar
        Dimwit

        The reason the Cimarron was a joke is because it was such a thinly disguised Cav. The GM braintrust were right in trying to extend the brand, it was just that they did it so *poorly*. Ford tried and failed at the same thing.

        I don’t get the analogy between this and the Cimarron but I do get the metaphor. :)

    • 0 avatar

      So, essentially it is a glorified A-class. Do you remember that imfamous subpar automobile made by Daimler which failed Elchtest in 90s? Yes according to press they are based on the same platform. So indeed it is a German Cimmaron.

  • avatar
    roadscholar

    Actually, I like it more than any other current Benz. Styling has gotten way too Asian for my taste.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Just in time for a budding RE market in America… Otherwise @travail the boss will think your on the take & your co-workers will key it. What’s the insurance? Ain’ t FWD on a Mercedes like finding battery-only under a Mustang hood?

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Perhaps… when I grow up. One day when I am done with cramming camping gear, bicycles, pianos and Costco runs into my economy hatchback I would like a small front drive merc sedan.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    A front wheel drive and a 2 liter turbo four. Just like a Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Malibu or Kia Optima. Except smaller, and with less power than any of their 2 liter turbo fours. BMW is going to be able to sell front wheel drive cars on its brand for at least one generation, but Mercedes does not have a strong enough brand to carry this kind of car. At least at any price premium.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      I hear what you’re saying but disagree. The Mercedes brand is very strong. In fact, I’d say when it comes to luxury cars, if people know nothing else, they recognize the three pointed star.

      And if you’re an up and coming professional and care about such things, which car would you rather be seen in?

      • 0 avatar
        nrd515

        I can think of a lot of things I would rather been seen in than this ugly thing. Just about any decent looking car, SUV, or pickup would do it.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I’m an up and coming professional, and I’d rather be seen in my Prius or my Sienna. Or a Camcord.

        I’m a computerman, and I live in a Midwestern college town. I work for a global dot-com with a genteel and team-oriented culture. None of the cultures I touch in this situation put much value on conspicuous consumption, but practicality, reliability, and technology ARE valued. The senior guys at my office mostly drive nice minivans. I’m a hands-on technologist, so my temperament, my image, my culture, my job, and my mentors all suggest I drive something practical.

        So, showing up in a minivan or a Prius (and being able to diagnose/fix it) does a lot more for MY image than any luxury car ever could. What helps your image depends on a) what you want your image to be and b) the culture in which you operate.

        People from corporate or regional cultures that value winning over teamwork, and who take heritage brands seriously, will love the car in this article. That is a lot of people, I guess, but it’s not me or the people I’ve worked with in my last few jobs. As for me, the LEAF would provide more interesting technology for the same lease payment.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        @Luke42

        Understood. People value different things. MB is making a play that young professionals would rather spend a little more and have a Benz. Overall I think they’ll be successful. You wouldn’t buy it for the reasons you mentioned and I wouldn’t because its not my type of car but plenty will.

        I do have a question. You stated:

        “…so my temperament, my image, my culture, my job, and my mentors all suggest I drive something practical.”

        Where does what YOU want to drive factor into the equation? Maybe I’ve been spoiled by being in a profession where what you drove had no bearing on people’s perceptions of your competence.

        I’m glad it works for you. Personally I wouldn’t want to be employed at a place that would put that much emphasis on what I drive. And frankly, it sounds like anything fun is verboten (if you really want that promotion).

      • 0 avatar

        “And if you’re an up and coming professional and care about such things”.

        Answer: Toyota Prius

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        @hubcap

        I didn’t end up in the job or town where I live by accident. The practical vehicles match me really well. And I really enjoy studying and tinkering with the Prius.

        If money were no object, I’d probably pick up a Leaf to play with. And maybe a Tesla Model X, when they become available. Some sort of project car might be fun if i had the time, the space, and some unusual technology under the hood. They’re both new and mechanically interesting. But as long as you have to put gasoline in the tank and a reasonably sized family, I’m pretty much set.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d add to this that quite a few buyers do not buy on power alone, which is why, for instance, Lexus IS-250 sells (although, interestingly, Infiniti withdrew G25 after only one or two years).

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @racer-esq.:

      Agreed. Why pay the M-B price when you can get a Sonata that is faster, cheaper, more reliable, better-looking, and has a better warranty? Or really, any of the other cars you mentioned….

      Some have mentioned the Cimarron comparison. I recall the M-B 190, but I think M-B wants to forget it.

      • 0 avatar
        Signal11

        Why would they want to forget one of the best selling cars they had in Europe in the late 80s/early 90s.

        Growing up in Germany during that time period, I remember all the taxis in Germany being 190s and upon my repatriation to the US as a high schooler, being somewhat confused as to why everything thought these things were considered “luxury” rich men’s play things.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I agree that the Sonata is a heck of a deal for the price, and the Optima is even better. BUT, chances are this car will simply be NICER than those cars. I don’t find it attractive but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. All that extra money does not entirely go to lining MBs pockets. If the things that make it nicer are not of interest to you, then enjoy your Hyundai and save $10K.

        This car is probably another nail in Volvo’s coffin.

      • 0 avatar
        Mirko Reinhardt

        Why would they want to forget the 190?
        -Iconic Bruno Sacco styling
        -DTM victories
        -bulletproof reliability

    • 0 avatar
      icemilkcoffee

      “Mercedes does not have a strong enough brand to carry this kind of car”

      Say WHAT? Mercedes has as strong as brand strength as any other luxo brand. If this was Acura, you might have a point.

  • avatar
    niky

    Most buyers won’t give a damn that this is front wheel drive. Hell, given the level of understeer in a non-V6 C Class, I highly doubt they’d notice, either way. As for size, can’t be any worse than the 1-series. People don’t buy these cars for practical reasons… Which is why the B-Class was such a dud.

    The front lower grille is over-bearing, but the side detailing is actually all right. Likely the toon-ism at the front end is to hide the otherwise ghastly overhang.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      niky..

      “Most buyers won’t give a damn that this is front wheel drive. Hell, given the level of understeer in a non-V6 C Class, I highly doubt they’d notice, either way.”

      This is unfortunately true. Norbert Reithofer, CEO BMW, authorized a survey in Germany (of all places) that found that 80% of BMW drivers did NOT know which wheels were driving the car (and the implication was: they didn’t care).

      ————

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “…80% of BMW drivers did NOT know which wheels were driving the car (and the implication was: they didn’t care).”

        Does this surprise you? The days of BMWs being driver’s cars are rapidly slipping away and as we all know, for the most part, MB aren’t about driving dynamics.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Daimler DNA flowed to Chrysler and gave us dreck like the Crossfire and Pacifica before hitting gold with the LX cars (Charger/Challenger/300).

    Chrysler DNA flowed to Chrysler with the great new M class. And apprently dreck like the this new MB Sebring. Looks like they inverted the Sebrings’s side panel sculpting and gave it the oversized, “I DRIVE A MERCEDES LOOK AT ME” front end.

  • avatar

    Here in LA,Cadillac is running a California Special lease for $299/mo and boasts of best in class interior size.
    The print at bottom says comparison is to a BMW.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I can’t tell yet if it looks expensive or makes the other models look cheaper. But the aerodynamics are great.

  • avatar

    Oh Derek, so cruel, so true! Seems like the previous generation Mercedes were improving styling wise, but the new ones (Class A and this) is 2 steps back. Hire some Italians already Mercedes. With the crisis and all I betcha you could get ‘em on the cheap!

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Wait! What about the AMG and “Black” editions for $348 and $399 a month? (sarcasm off)

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    There’s something quite awkward about the car in the photo. Maybe it will look better in person.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Hey Guys, remember back in the early part of the 2000s when Cadillac vowed to go RWD because that’s what Mercedes and BMW were doing?

    Yeah that was hilarious… Now BMW and Mercedes want to imatate 80s Cadillac.

  • avatar
    360joules

    Speaking of Chrysler DNA, check out the slab cutout in the doors. Makes me think of a new Charger….nah…better yet, an old Dodge Coronet. Just sell it in orange so dealers can add the stars and bars with a horn that plays Dixie.

    All sarcasm aside, the ride must be punishing with those low profile tires.

  • avatar
    Tick

    How dare they offer a nice looking, well built car for not very much money! I would much prefer an article that unveiled a really expensive car so a bunch of hipsters can talk about how much they don’t like it and think it’s over-priced euro trash. If only I had their infinite cultural and automotive wisdom so I could have more to bitch and moan about on the internet.

    Oh well, guess I’ll have to stick to working hard and enjoying life instead.

  • avatar

    I have to ask, what’s the expected reliability of this? Merc nosedived so much in recent years, that I had to give it a pass, even though BMW pushes run-flats and I really hate them.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Are you sure this isn’t one of those Chinese knockoffs?

  • avatar
    Charliej

    I agree with Tick. All the instant experts on here. This car (like most cars) is designed for people who actually buy new cars. Not teens living in mom’s basement. Being old, I read all the Car and Driver comparison tests of the Mustang and Camaro. The Camaro always won. In real life, the Mustang always out sold the Camaro. The reason, the Mustang was designed for real world buyers, not teenage boys. Please understand, car enthusiasts, of which I am one, do not buy enough cars to make a difference. That is why cars like this exist, to make a profit for the company. Mazda makes cars that enthusiasts love, me too. They are struggling. Mainstream is where the money is.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      You think we’re teenaged boys on this blog? Um, no. I encourage you to keep reading long enough to get to know the regulars.

      Don’t confuse a chance to escape the constraints of daily life with freewheeling garage talk with being kids. I’m a dad in my mid-30s, and I’m probably slightly younger than the regulars that I hear the most from. Except for Derrick – he’s like 10 years younger than me with a kid who could go to the same daycare as my kid.

      I could easily pay the $300/more lease for this car, and could probably come up with whatever down payment is required to get the deal. I’m paying about the same for a used Sienna that I bought in December. And I very much prefer my 8 year old Sienna over the car in this article, because the Sienna is much better for my purposes and my image. I also find the Sienna to be quite luxurious, in a non-exclusive kind of way. I’m qualified to buy the car in the article, but it’s not the right tool for the jobs performed by my Sienna or my Prius at any price.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        Of course the Sienna is a better car in every respect. The latest Sienna actually has a recliner seat with foot rest! Anyone with half a brain would have chosen a Camcord over any of this German throw-away junk (don’t try to argue with me on this- most of the german car enthusiasts rent… um lease.. their cars for a reason).

        But consumers are not driven by logic. A lot of buyers will opt for the MBMW just so they can say they are superior to people like you.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        I agree that exclusivity is what a lot of luxury-nameplate buyers are going for.

        Commodity cars have become so refined, so comfortable, and feature-rich in the 18 years I’ve been driving… Well, exclusivity is the only thing that they could add that you can’t get in a camcord.

        If those people want to look different from people like me, well let’s just say that the want for distance is mutual. And seeing the BMW badge on the car gives me advance notice as to the driver’s manners.

  • avatar
    dabradler

    Finally Lexus is going to have some competition in the grandma luxury car market.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    If I look up really quickly whilst scrolling, this looks just like a Sentra. No good. And the wheels are tiny. And the rear fender could have come from a Genesis. And I hate black wheels on anything.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    As a Benz, I don’t care for it. M-B has a good reputation for making a luxry driver’s car in this category. To me this car seems diluted and a poseur. I’m sure it’ll be an OK product, but if it becomes popular, will cause M-B to lose some of it’s identity and credibility.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    When it is all said and done, this is just another piece of brand extension for MB. It might succeed or fail but at least it is *new*. Something going forward.

    All of you have to remember the mindset of the exec suites of the German marques. There must be serious fear there. They are shouldering the complete EU. Seriously, should any one of these guys falter the rest of Europe’s economy comes crashing down from sheer uncertainty. It also means that they have to keep pushing, extending their reach, moving into new niches, new segments because that’s how you get growth in a nonperforming market. They can’t rely on the US to pick up slack and they quickly max out their foreign markets for the luxury/premium goods. So you get this, and the 1 series and up!.

    Scary times.

  • avatar
    cdnsfan27

    The rational behind this model is quite simple, our customers are getting older and we must reach a younger demographic before our sales start to fall like Cadillac’s did. I wish we would offer a stick in something other than the SLK250. The CLA looks very good, handles well and will give us a price point between the Smart and the C-Class. Oh, and the all wheel drive CLA45 will rock.


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