While your humble Editor-In-Chief was brake-torquing his mighty 560SL — about which more will be said in the near future — over to the liquor store to pick some Alizé for some morally-challenged females, Mercedes-Benz USA was holding quite a party for the CLA Press Drive. I’m reliably told it was the most upscale event in history to feature a vehicle priced head-to-head with the Ford Fusion. I’m also reliably told by the same people who told me about the event that the cheapest Benzo is the bee’s knees and just totally awesome in every respect.
But there’s already one bit of off-message news emerging about the transverse-engined Teutonic travesty:
In Europe, you can get a diesel CLA in either 136-horse or 170-horse tune, with a six-speed manual or seven-speed DCT respectively, but no variant of that powertrain will be available in North America. The engine, incidentally, is sourced from Renault.
Let’s pause for a minute to consider the notion that Mercedes-Benz isn’t willing to make their own four-cylinder entry-level diesels. Alright, that’s over. Why won’t the Renault four-banger come to the United States? Apparently the answer is the urea injection system that would be mandatory on these shores; it would simply cost too much to fit. Once upon a time, Mercedes-Benz would have built their own engine, made it comply with our regulations, and charged whatever they felt was fair — but that strategy no longer works in this market and it certainly wouldn’t work with a car that’s currently being advertised with “$29,999” all over it. Still, the idea that this car is priced and sliced so thin that there isn’t the margin to fit a French diesel is enough to give those of us who have owned the old Benzes pause. One wonders perhaps if the cost of doing so would have been more or less than the cost of fitting that abominable backlit SL-style star in the grille.