By on October 25, 2013

mercedes_is_betting_a_lot_on_smaller_cars_with_the_new_a_cla_large_104251

With the wraps finally off the BMW 2-Series, we now have a full slate of entry-level products from the German luxury designed to bring a whole new demographic into the arms of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi. As much hand wringing as there is over the possible brand dilution going on here (all in the name of ever more important volume), it’s a damn good time to be a German car fan with around $30k to spend.

Mercedes-Benz_CLA_200_(C_117)_–_Heckansicht,_13._April_2013,_Düsseldorf

 

The Mercedes-Benz CLA is the first to hit the market, with the all-important sub$30,000 pricepoint. $29,900 gets you a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and swoopy, pseudo-CLS styling. But you won’t be staying there for long – pretty much everything is an option, and the price can creep upward really quickly.

2015-Audi-A3-Sedan-Pricing-Main-Art

For the same $29,900, Audi will also offer you a same sedan that is front-drive, with an engine 200cc smaller and the same “looks like a big Audi, till a big Audi pull up” styling. The A3 at least has a fair bit of standard equipment: xenon lights, leather and a moonroof are all standard.

digital post production: Ole Bunger www.pixoleb.com

Of the Germans, only BMW has breached the $30,000 barrier, with its all new 228i, which starts at $33,025. But the 228i offers two things that the Audi and M-B can’t give you at any price: rear-wheel drive and a manual transmission. Of course, it’s also got two doors, while the other have four.

Tell me which one you’d prefer in the comments, or if you’d rather have a W-Body paid for in cash because owning one of these past the warranty period is an exercise is masochism.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

80 Comments on “QOTD: Pump Up The Volume...”


  • avatar
    kosmo

    Having owned many different BMWs over the decades, I would say that rather than “diluting the brand”, cars like the 128 with an NA I6 and M6T represent what best remains of the brand that initially attracted me.

    After my prayers for a US version of the 5-door HB 128 failed, I can start all over again for the 228, even though it has a T4 engine.

    The 5-door HB or even a 4-door would be my strong preference, but I would never sacrifice the RWD of the BMW for the FWD penalty exacted by the Audi or MB 4-door alternatives. Not for a “toy car” like this.

    • 0 avatar
      romanjetfighter

      These cars represent what the German brands used to be for me. Expensive, sporty, stable-in-a-straight-line, and somewhat spartan. I can’t wait to have these as rentals in Europe. People complaining about brand dilution and working-class badge snobs are the real badge snobs, upset because the snob value of their car’s badge just went down a few pegs. Talk about smug.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        Agreed. The new A3 is virtually the same size as my ’96 A4 was. The A4 was hailed as Audi’s salvation when it was introduced, and nobody has complained since that it somehow cheapens the A6, A8, etc.

  • avatar
    sco

    Definitely not in the market for any of these but as an uninvolved observer I like the CLA the least. That rear 3/4 view is just horrible- overwrought, dips, squiggles and creases every where

  • avatar

    NAME EQUITY is EVERYTHING.

    What Mercedes is basically doing is asking you to spend $10,000 more so you can have a tri-star, on what is essentially a Hyundai Sonata 2.0.

    Why not simply buy a Sonata 2.0 fully loaded and save the difference between the loaded CLA250 ($38,000)?

    It’s because some people would rather be able to say they have a Mercedes – even if it’s entry level – than have a fully loaded car made by what they perceive is a lesser brand.

    After testing both the CLA and BMW4 series I’d rather have the CLA. The BMW4 entry-level is so bland it’s painful unless you just need to be able to say “you drive a BMW”.

    This 2-series looks like it’s even “less”. No thanks. Not interested.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      Mercedes gets this market more. They get that the badge snobs don’t care about engineering or handling, and just want fancy soft touch expensive looking finishes. That’s why they build a dirt cheap FWD car in Hungary, and spend a lot of money on the interior, instead of putting a lot of money into a RWD platform and leaving a somewhat Spartan interior, at least before a lot of option packages.

      I would MUCH rather have a BMW 2 series or 4 series instead of a CLA. But the problem for BMW is that I would rather have an FR-S or Genesis Coupe 2.0T than a BMW. I expect the BMW 1 series to be better tailored to this market.

      • 0 avatar
        Vega

        The A class is anything but dirt cheap and runs rings around the respective Korean competition. Mine was built in Rastatt Germany and beats the pants of the comparable Golf, Kia, Hyundai in terms of sophistication and sense of quality. I can’t imagine the Hungarian versions being worse. Other German cars from Hungary are not known for being low quality (e.g. Touareg, Audi TT etc.)

        • 0 avatar
          racer-esq.

          In the US the closest Hyundai in price to the CLA is the Hyundai Genesis sedan. Which is very embarrassing for the CLA.

          What’s more it prices much higher than the Ford Fusion, which, along with being well reviewed, looks like an Aston Martin (till an Aston Martin pull up).

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          I actually passed one during my commute this morning — diesel and everything. (It had consul plates, so presumably someone had it shipped over.)

          I’ll admit, my first thought was “who the hell glues a star onto a smart car?”)

        • 0 avatar
          juicy sushi

          The Touareg has a pretty established reputation for poor quality.

          http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/used-cars/buying-used-touareg-an-unpredictable-used-rig/article14427331/

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          If you mean the original A Class – lmao!

          And even the CLA is a bit on the chinzy side.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I don’t think the Touareg was ever built in Hungary. I know that the Touareg and Q7 are built at the Bratislava, Slovakia plant, while the Cayenne sees its components made in Slovakia, then shipped back to Germany (Leipzig?) for final assembly.

          Still, I think you’re right in that people blow things way out of proportion when it comes to assembly locations. With cars designed for first-world countries, and especially with today’s quality-control, the durability and even the fit-and-finish of a car have way more to do with how it was engineered and how many cost-cuts the manufacturer did or did not take.

        • 0 avatar

          Do you mean “Failed basic elk test” A-class, the most embarrassing car ever to wear Mercedes badge? Sure.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      I happen to have a loaded Sonata Turbo, and without needing to sample the CLA, I can already tell you it’s going to be better. Probably not $8000 (more out the door) better, but noticeably better.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        We have a loaded Sonata non-turbo, and those were my exact thoughts as well. It’s a nice car, certainly, but you can still tell where cost-cuts were made because of the fact that it’s a volume car. It really isn’t comparable to the CLA other than the fact that the prices overlap a bit. Moreover, when the current Sonata first debuted, it (and the Optima) were probably the leaders in terms of bang-for-your-buck, but now I think that crown goes to the new Accord, which gives you a rearview camera, dual-zone climate controls, a color infotainment screen, and actual alloy wheels…all as standard equipment.

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      And I could only see buying the Mercedes if somebody had to say they “drive a Mercedes”.

    • 0 avatar
      fredtal

      There are more to cars than an option list and specs. At least there are to those of us you actually like cars and go for drives just for the fun of it.

    • 0 avatar
      imag

      I am not sure why people do not get premium small cars.

      Some people don’t want a big car, but they also want a nice car. For the most part, the Germans are offering:

      - Better interior
      - Better brakes
      - Better suspension
      - Better high speed handling
      - RWD/AWD

      Those things cost money. It is not always just about the badge. And if you can’t tell the difference, then you should absolutely get a Sonata.

      • 0 avatar
        oldfatandrich

        You are quite correct. That said, most of the this website’s ranters who deliver their rants with tiresome regularity have likely never sat in a new CLA. Absent a manual transmission—horribile dictu—it is entirely more appealing than the 2 series, which looks like nothing but a cheap parody of a BMW. As for the Audi, we will all rejoice when the stylists in Ingolstadt finally design a car that does not put one in the mind of a suppository. And to TTAC’s legion of Benz haters most of whom are unlikely to ever possess the means to drive a new Mercedes of any class, I refer them to “The Penalty of Leadership”, the classic copy created in 1915 for Cadillac.

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        Absolutely right. In Canada, MB also sell the B250. Its length, width and weight are nearly identical to the CLA, and it has the same engine/transmission, but it also has the versatility of a htchback and a much roomier interior.

        Being in Canada, I wouldn’t buy rwd. The weight over the drive wheels that fwd brings helps immensely in winter, and the absence of a driveshaft improves the interior room.

        We test-drove a number of competitive offerings, and once comparably equipped there wasn’t a lot of price difference. About $1,500-2,500 on a high 30′s pricetag. My Audis (2 A4s, kept for 8 and 9 years, respectivley) taught me that quality design, materials and construction will last. We expect at least 8 years from the B250. Only time will tell.

  • avatar
    ash78

    At a certain level of diminutiveness, cars from specific brands (notably European lux) just don’t feel right in sedan form. These should all be shooting brakes or wagons. If you’re going to sub-segment the market to this level of ridiculousness, at least find a way to better differentiate the vehicles from their like-sized siblings. Doubly so for BMW, which is flanked on both sides (at least in name) by the 1 and the 3.

    I think these will all last 1 or 1.5 generations in the US unless we have a serious double-dip recession. Just enough time has passed since the 318ti, or the Mercedes C-Coupe, that the current management probably thinks history won’t repeat itself — you’ll gain a couple of conquest sales from people shopping for a GTI or maybe Acura TSX, but the brand dilution will put off some of the high-end buyers. The low-end models won’t be too profitable and won’t always upsell buyers into the brand’s more expensive models, so the whole exercise will just be short-term gain for shareholders.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “. . .it’s a damn good time to be a German car fan with around $30k to spend.”

    Damn straight. If you care about what German cars used to mean, and aren’t just a badge snob, you can get an FR-S/BRZ or Genesis Coupe 2.0T and still have $5K left over in your pocket.

    The 2 series isn’t BMW’s real entry into this market. That will be the FWD 1 series sedan, which likely will come in just under $30K. The 2 series is a proper BMW, but hard to justify compared to the Genesis 2.0T, which is as good or better in every way for $8,700 less.

    • 0 avatar
      Vega

      Yeah, but it looks and feels like a Hyundai…

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Cars only feel like what they are, slapping a badge on a car doesn’t make it better or worse. And the Genesis Coupe is a well designed RWD performance car that Baruth praised.

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/boomerang-basement-bolides-second-place-hyundai-genesis-2-0t-r-spec-yo/

        With how BMWs have been looking lately “looks like a Hyundai” isn’t an insult in comparison. The beak on the 2 series is pretty ungainly.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      moorewr

      BMW or nothing, then, in the US.

      Which kills the A3 for me. For one thing the A3 quattro uses haldex, so it’s FWD with occasional power to the back wheels, for another the A3 quattro gets you within spitting distance of the A4 quattro, and to kill the deal we get no hatchback, no manuals, and no quattro TDI.

      So that leaves you with the Jetta GLI, GTI, or Sportwagen TDI as obviously superior and cheaper versions of the MQB platform.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Haldex Audi quattros are a peeve of mine. I wouldn’t buy a FWD based Audi. I would certainly prefer a GTI over the three choices presented here.

        I also dislike any FWD based AWD system. For example, I am given to understand the AWD Ecoboost Flex exhibits massive torque steer, due to it having essentially a FWD drive train with a prop shaft to the rear tacked on.

        • 0 avatar
          typhoon

          Yeah, it’s funny. Audi reinvents the B5 A4, but as a Volkswagen instead of an Audi. So transverse engine and Haldex. It is the best looking of the three, though. The BMW at least still retains its brand’s defining traits in being RWD and available with a manual transmission (though probably not for much longer). Of course, it doesn’t matter, these cars are being built for (and by) people who don’t care what makes an Audi an Audi or a BMW a BMW.

          As for the CLA, one day we’ll look at it and it’ll look the same way to us that the ovoid Taurus does now. Arguably, that day is today.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I think this too! This is much of my issue with the S80.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “. . .it’s a damn good time to be a German car fan with around $30k to spend.”

    Another point, the only reason these cars have MSRPs is that a residual value, for the purpose of leasing, cannot be determined without a residual value/depreciation factor AND an MSRP.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    No wonder the kids are ignoring the cult of automotive. Imagine you’re 22, with a bachelor of business admin, $50k of debt, and earning $700/week as a number checker at firm X. The proposition that these “target” customers would even look at any of these three is absurd. The debt to income ratio would preclude approval even by the lax standards of modern “banking”. I have to figure that their real market intention is as a second car for affluent families, in which case they probably have done well. Not to my tastes, but for these uses, probably well thought out as the car next to the S, 7, and CL brethren.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Why would a 22yo be looking at $30K+ cars from ANY maker? That is just silly. These are cars they would look at in their early-mid 30s when the time comes to buy their first “nice” car. I expect to see a lot of older folks driving the Audi and MB actually, once they downsize in their retirement years. I could totally see my Mom splurging on one once the grandparents are gone and she doesn’t need the space of her Prius-V anymore.

      The BMW is just a slightly smaller BMW. To be honest, now that I have found I like having a big fat SUV in the stable, a 2-series is on my radar for possibly replacing my 328i wagon someday. Properly optioned it should be a nice driver’s car. I am a HUGE fan of small turbo engines anyway. Optioned the way I would want it, the current 128i would be about $45K, and I don’t find that price objectionable.

      For the Audi and MB, it doesn’t bother me at all that they are FWD. Small cars are fine with FWD, the space efficiency makes a real difference. The BMW is intended as a driver’s car, so it makes sense they are sticking with RWD on it. The upcoming 1-series will be fine too – it will fundamentally be a MINI sedan after all.

      • 0 avatar

        Krhodes1,

        How did you like the new N20 in the 328i? A dealer near me has a 128i coming in…Premium Package, power seats, 6MT. I am not sure if I want to splurge and the idea of the 228i is another strike against the 1er. Fuel economy will undoubtedly be much better. But I will miss the nice 3.0L I6 too. For a guy like me, the 1/2-Series is great. Small enough to park in tight spots, all the performance I want – the back seats seem better for groceries though.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I really like the N20. But don’t forget I am a long and serial Saab turbo owner, so I am biased towards turbo fours. The N52 six sings a lovely song, but as an all-arounder the GM Ecotec in my ’08 9-3SC was a better motor. You have to rev the nuts off the BMW six to go fast, you just have to squeeze the pedal with the turbo 4. Doesn’t matter what gear you are in, it just goes. And way more fuel efficient. Also my favorite BMWs ever were my ’91 318is’s.

          Of course my first choice would be the one we WON’T get here – a 228d. Fast and 45mpg. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        I see lots of young 20s driving cars they can’t possibly afford – to buy. These are new models, so they’ll set the residuals so high that the lease terms will be affordable.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Those are mostly bought with Daddy’s Money. Which is the best kind really, wish I had some available when I was 20. Remember, most of these whiny Millennial’s have Gen X or Baby Boomers supporting them. Or bought used – you can get an early e9x BMW for $15K, and most people can’t tell them from a new one.

          And really, I have no problem with leasing. If you have a short attention span and are going to buy a new car every few years anyway, why not? It’s expensive, but it is easy. I’m too cheap to do it, but I see the appeal. I nearly leased my Abarth, actually.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Are these cars new territory, or adjusted for inflation, are they just back-filling for C-Class/A4/3-series model bloat?

    As it stands, I’d go with racer, or the inverse of big truck’s example. I’d rather go with a mainstreat C- or D-segment car. These cars just don’t offer enough of anything I want for me to consider them…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The 2-series is intended to be a niche car. The upcoming 1-series will be more comparable to the CLA and A3.

    I would expect that the CLA has a fighting chance of becoming a real contender, although it also poses the risk of cannibalizing the C-class. I have my doubts that the A3 will sell that well or pose that sort of threat to the A4.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    agree with those who say the 1 series is the real competitor the A3 and CLA. That being said, I’ll take my e46 3 series over any of the new cars. I have to see the stats on the 228i to know for sure; I saw a rumor floating around of a sub 3000 lb curb weight, which would make it more appealing. Otherwise, the lack of a 220i for the is a real disappointment, and I doubt the 228i will fix BMW’s continuing slide into poseur oblivion as far as the driving experience goes. That all being said, if I must choose among the 3 above, the RWD stick shift 228i is the only one even worth considering. I see nothing about the Benz or the Audi that make them worth choosing over a Fusion Titanium.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      I’m with you– I’ll hang on to my 12-year-old stick E39, squeaks, rattles, real leather everything, and all. These cars just don’t compete for my dollar. The interors are too plasticky and although there are more choices, most are automatic only. Years back it seemed that sticks got relegated to smaller models or stripper trims, now they’re almost out altogether.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    I for one am outraged AGAIN that there does not seem to be a Mocha-Brown Metallic Wagon CRD with 6 spd manual offered in this bunch! Germany, I throw a COW at you!

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      Don’t despair! They haven’t formally announced color choices, and the old Cashmere (!) of the 1 Series was really a light brown!

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Hey, in Audi’s defence, the other (mainstream) half of VAG offers a Toffee Brown Metallic Wagon with TDI and 6-spd manual. No premium badge, but it’s as loaded as it gets just shy of $30k.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    BMW 228i. Because a Civic ILX is Just Too Embarrassing.

  • avatar
    Marko

    As much as I haven’t been a fan of recent BMWs, the 2-Series is the one I’d pick. The Audi sort of appeals to me, if only for having the cleanest styling: it will definitely appeal to my “Generation Why” cohort, but many will have to buy it used.

    The CLA, on the other hand…the interior is nice, as long as you’re sitting in the front seat, but take away the Mercedes badges and you have nothing more than an ugly, cramped, marginally loaded FWD sedan. I like Mercedes as a brand, but not the CLA; there’s nothing about it that would make me consider it over a Buick Verano…and I wouldn’t have to deal with the frameless (WHY?) window whistling in the Verano.

    Of course, if the 2015 Mustang turns out anything like what’s in the spy shots, I’d take that over any of the mentioned cars. I’d probably save money, too.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Be prepared to see a lot of base versions of these cars running around your neighborhood. Never underestimate snob appeal in the MTV cribs generation. If they had steelies with wheel covers, drum brakes and black plastic molding heavily adourning the exterior, they would still sell just for the hood ornament and bragging rights.

    This is brand dillution plain and simple. That being said, none of them are bad looking, the Bimmer actually seems like a decent entry level car true to the brand. The other two, for the price, I think I would actually go for a loaded mainstream vehicle.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I can’t help thinking that I’d rather a 6MT Verano Turbo. I think you would do better dollar for dollar.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      +1

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Yup but if you’re stupid enough to be a badge snob, you get what you deserve.

        Or stated another way; If I had based every car purchase on worrying what my neighbors or coworkers thought, I would have never bought a single one of the automobiles I’ve ever purchased.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          When I was first driving, I couldn’t afford to let others decide what I drove. My first car was a hand me down from my sister when she got married, and my second, third and fourth were whatever my mechanic had in my price range. After a free Rambler, everything else is classy.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Of what I’ve read, the CLA AMG is off the hook for $47K. An affordable AMG with a 4-banger making Ford EcoBoost 6 cylinder power.

    I’m thinking the day before the warranty expires it needs to go Buh-bye – but definitely has my interest.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I would have the Audi with Quattro. Getting a non-quattro Audi is like ordering chicken at a steakhouse. It is probably very well prepared, but it begs the question “Why go to a steakhouse to order chicken?”

  • avatar
    hf_auto

    I recently had a chance to sit in a CLA, what a terribly disappointing interior. The seats were nice, but the rest was sub-Golf quality.

  • avatar
    Shipwright

    Of the three cars list, BMW wins because it’s the only one with rear wheel drive and has a manual transmission. I know, I’m a luddite.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    With 85,000 miles on my 2007 A3 I’m thinking of getting a new car. I’m not happy that the new A3 does not come with a manual, I’ve heard bad things about MB reliability, yea even worse than Audi, which I’ve had no problems with. The BMW will most likely be over $40,000 so I’m thinking I already have a Lotus Elan for fun, why not get something more practical like a Camry and save some money.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The best A3 that VAG makes wears a GTI/R badge. If I’m getting a FWD golf chassis, may as well pay Golf money for it. The 7th gen GTI, at under 3000lbs and an available LSD, would be my pick if I were in this “market” again.

    Merc does nothing for me.

    I quite enjoyed driving my friend’s 135i and I actually think I like look of the cat bellied 1 series better than the 2 series that replaces it. Rather than the 2 series, though, I’d more likely bump up to a 3 or IS or bump down to an FR-S/BRZ. For my uses, the 2 series just falls in no-man’s-land of being fun, but very expensive and impractical. The twins are fun and cheap and the 3/IS are fun and (reasonably) practical.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The Benz and the Audi have little to no appeal to me. Might as well buy a Jetta if those two are on your list.

    I the 2 Series is appealing because of it’s sporting pretentions. That added value would be the only reason I’d consider paying more than 30k for a compact car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      By the time you load it up to the same spec, I doubt there would be much in it price-wise between the Audi and a Jetta. And I bet you can get a LOT of stuff on the Audi you won’t be able to get on a Jetta, if toys matter to you. And AWD is not available on Jettas. But ultimately, I am in the camp who would just buy a Golf.

      Ultimately I do not conflate size and price. My BMW wagon cost 2X as much as a Jetta wagon that is actually a bit bigger inside, and was worth every extra penny. The content matters, not the amount of air being enclosed within.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    I’d love the Audi… if it came with a stick. I can’t stomach the 2 doors of the BMW, and the CLA looks awesome from the front, but the C pillar is really clunky in the droopy dog backend. Did anyone notice the CLA is available in matte silver paint? I don’t know if I’d get it, but I give points for MB reaching outside of the comfort zone.

    All in all, I’ll likely go with another A4 stick next year. If I have to live with 2 pedals, there are other better choices out there.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m not a big fan of the CLA’s styling, but I don’t think that it tramples all over traditional Mercedes-Benz values, and I don’t think that it will dilute the brand. Fit-and-finish, in particular, seemed exceptional and it had a number of features that people shopping in that segment care about, even if they are mostly optional. The BMW 2-Series, on the other hand, looks a lot nicer, but is only a good deal if you want a bare-bones sports coupe. Even if people do like BMW badges, they’re going to notice spartan seats and sparse interior appointments. The size and lack of rear doors also makes it quite impractical. I am a big fan of the Audi A3 and its approach to this segment, and it’ s the one that I would have out of the three.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    The correct answer is D. None of the above.

    A nicely equipped GTI at 30k over any of these badge snob vehicles.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    When is Lincoln’s entry level model coming out?

  • avatar
    Spartan

    Unless you want the stripper version of these cars, you’d do better stepping up to the A4/3er/C-Class. If you’re stretching your income to buy the A3/2er/CLA, then you should be looking at a mainstream sedan anyway.

    Personally, I wouldn’t touch any of these cheap luxury brand cars with a 10 foot pole because the quality isn’t going to be there for the price point. It’s just their way to penetrate the market where midsize mainstream FWD sedans top out and these overlap that price point.

    Finally, you’d have to be out of your head to buy a A3/2er/CLA for $35k over a fully loaded mainstream sedan like a Fusion/Accord/Altima.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Dieter holding Wolfgang back so he doesn’t end up somewhere else. Imagine Bernhard in charge at Ford or GM.

  • avatar

    If Buick/Oldsmobile/Pontiac/Mercury thing did not work for Detroit Big 3 why do you think the same thing will work for Deutschland Big 3?

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Buick isn’t dead (yet). But the “thing” DID work for the Big 3 for many years. Olds and Mercury died from management neglect (fewer models), Pontiac was killed by the Feds as part of the “managed bankruptcy, And one you didn’t mention, Plymouth, was done in by both management neglect and the Daimler first-among-equals overlords after the merger with Chrysler. All, except maybe Mercury, had storied histories going back generations.

      GM tried that ladder to success model WITHIN makes, undercutting the nameplates. They did even that badly, by extending the ladder within models, with even the top of the line model having a stripped-to-loaded range. The L-T-S model lost all coherence after that.

      The biggest problem for the ladder to success model is that the ladder lost a bunch of upper rungs after 1970 with inflation-adjusted household income stagnating. It’s hard to aspire when your paycheck is playing Alice In Wonderland with purchasing power, while car and fuel prices exceeded inflation.

  • avatar
    gonflyn

    Drove a base model ($29,900) CLA. I liked it alot. Styling is subjective, but I think they did a fantastic job with the looks in that current, swoopy four door coupe theme that is so hot right now. I thought it came impressively equipped for the base price and feel the interior is excellent, using what look and feel like quality materials including tasteful stitching here and there and a simple yet thoroughly modern overall design. I really felt they did not cheap out anywhere in this vehicle.
    The standard seats are superb. Nicely bolstered, they would be top of the line sport buckets in any other brand, and were as comfy and supportive as the sport package seats in my current BMW335Xi – I think thats saying something.
    I didnt feel the 2.0 felt thrashy or overworked and even though its only putting out the 208hp, felt like it had a decent pull in the low and midrange revs, I imagine due to its delivery via the torque numbers. I thought it felt smoother and more composed than most of the other 2.0T’s out there I’ve driven, including the fusion, optima, sonata and VW, the BMW was better, have not driven the AUDI. Would much rather have rear wheel drive or perhaps 4matic, but didnt feel any torque steer at all. Handling was crisp, ride was german firm but I didnt think as harsh as some have indicated (keep in mind though, coming from a 335 all wheel drive with runflats, I’m probably a sucker for punishment and wouldnt know an asswhippin if I got one.

    Only gripes I had is that it felt rather cocoon-like inside, with the high belt line trend approaching the extreme and making the back seats feel downright claustrophobic. That combined with the slope of the back windshield and the front seats having built in headrests makes visibility poor, I definitely felt isolated from my surroundings a little more than I’d like. Also, I can take or leave the slightly cheesy looking information screen that looks perched on the dash as an afterthought, somewhat clashing with the well thought out flow of the interior. Compared to all the pros however, these things seem like non issues.

    I think this car is a great deal if you can forego the options, the base is totally livable. Perhaps the only thing I’d have to have is the 18″ wheel package, and, if according to the salesman at a $500 cost, also a great deal. I bet they will sell a lot of these. I’m thinking if I cant justify replacing the 335 and can live with less horsepower (but with a lot less cost and what sounds like great mileage), this is the one I’d buy.

  • avatar
    baconator

    Have sat in the CLA but haven’t driven it – every single one at the M-B store was already pre-sold, so no test drives! The dealer made it clear that it’s exceeding sales expectations – a win for MB no matter what the Internet commentariat thinks.

    I’m just delighted that there are now more three more small cars with nice interiors, good road manners, and relatively powerful engines available. Design is, of course, subjective, but all three of these cars look better to me than their stablemates one size up.

    My sense is that there are plenty of people who could afford an even more expensive car, but need or want a small car. This is not a demographic that would cross-shop a Sonata, nor one that buys cars by the cubic foot. The Germans will nail their sales projections.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    The CLA is positively one of the ugliest cars to have been designed and unveiled in the last decade.

    The rear is particulary heinous.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States