By on January 24, 2013

Our Managing Editor is losing sleep over the imminent collapse of the BMW and Mercedes-Benz brand images due to their upcoming sub-$30,000 models. When you are finished with your 27th viewing of Benz’s sneak peek at their Super Bowl ad above, let’s discuss. 

For those of you staid, get-off-my-lawn, traditional German car owners like myself, you probably don’t know that the girl washing the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA is named Kate Upton. She is an actress or something. All I know is the ad will certainly raise awareness of the Daimler brand and piqué the curiosity of Derek’ s Gen Why peers about the new class of budget-priced Benz automobiles. I think the pitch works, no matter your age. If Mercedes-Benz can throw in a Last Time Buyer’s financing program, I might even purchase a CLA.

The video is almost as sexy as the granddaddy of all car washing scenes, the one featuring Joy Harmon hosing down a coupe in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke. (The star of the movie, Paul Newman, was also an accomplished race car driver.)

So will this blatant pandering to the next generation of Mercedes-Benz owners help or hurt the brand?


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46 Comments on “Tales From The Cooler: Is Mercedes-Benz All Washed Upton?...”

  • avatar

    Oh. My. God. Hault all things automotive!!!!


    Please… Attention all you MB/BMW owners with your noses so high in the air that you can’t see the real world in front of you- the middle class of America (or even further) is disappearing. The need to bring to life an model that even “rednecks and hillbillies” can afford serves to ensure that a brand survives.

    Gone are the days that rappers, MD’s, PhD’s, and Esq.’s can support a full load of a luxury brand. There’s too much competition from even the likes of Hyundai, Acura and Lexus that are nowhere near as pretentious and flamboyant to play the “I’m too good to cater to that sect” game.

    There’s so much more I could say about this, but I lack the ability to put my disgust into words.

    • 0 avatar

      That stuff in all caps is factually inaccurate. The people who can afford a MB/BMW, are not going to “buy” this CLA – they are not f-ing stupid to buy a gimmick. The people who cannot afford, will be leasing the CLA, and thus not care that the gimmicks start breaking down when the warranty expires.

      I’ll repeat, looks good for a Huyndai.

    • 0 avatar

      The “snobby German car owners” that you speak of are, for the most part (in the form that they are spoken of on this site), a fabrication. Most houses with a 7 or S parked in front of them also have other cars parked in front of them, which often includes cheaper BMWs and Benzes, so no S or 7 owner with an IQ above room temp is going to give two sheißen whether or not their beloved German brands offer cheaper models.

    • 0 avatar

      Reality is that a $30K car is still pretty expensive to the “average joe”. It is not relevent that you can option a Camcord to that level, they don’t sell many of those. Most of these $30K MBs and BMWs will be at least $35-38K with the common options that dealers will stock.

      Average Joes (and Jolenes) in this country who don’t buy used cars, buy <$20K cars. I suspect the average income of folks buying $30K cars is at least 150-200% of "average" if not more.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m with you KRhodes, but you mustn’t forget about the power of a magic lease. They can do tricks, such as giving you the payment of the <20K average car without you ever owning it.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s not as expensive as it used to be though. Apparently last year the average transaction price hit $30,748 in March 2012:

        I don’t know how that number works, and note it’s an average, not a median.

        I do know people who have never owned a luxury car but would consider a 3-Series attainable now because it only costs a tiny bit more than a fully loaded Camcord. But yeah, their average income is at least 150-200% of median or more ($50,054 was median for 2011).

      • 0 avatar


        If you are going to be on a neverending treadmill of payments, and lets face it, most people are, then you might as well drive something nicer by leasing the cars. Stupid, but many people are.


        True, but don’t forget these are still teaser prices just like those $9995 Nissan Versas. And as you note, most folks who think of themselves (or we think of them) as “average” really aren’t. Last I saw the median income of a 3-series buyer was something like $160k/yr. I would bet that even among the folks who get condemned around here for leasing them for all the wrong reasons make $75K+.

    • 0 avatar

      As a previous owner of a Mercedes Benz, may I point out that Forbes magazine has posted articles that show that many of the world’s wealthiest people BUY REGULAR CARS like Honda, Ford, Toyota, etc?

      I personally expect to see every billionaire in a Veyron Super Sport, but reality isn’t that way.

      What’s wrong with a slightly cheaper entry model? You know how many lower-middle class people have BMW’s and Benzes and Audis at current?

  • avatar

    She’s no Joy Harmon.

  • avatar

    Needs a nose job.
    All of the scrubbing in the world won’t erase that ugly beak.

  • avatar

    It’s clever. Grab your attention with pretty lady, then make the car look normal sized by having a few short people stand next to it.

    • 0 avatar

      There have got to be agencies that specialize in well-proportioned short people. Every car ad uses them, most noticeably the Kia Sorento ad where the guy has to exit the tailgate.

      I actually envy my 4’11” wife…. every new car interior is a spacious paradise for her. Meanwhile all the rear-view mirrors are smack in my line of sight.

      • 0 avatar

        I think you are right. I have always regretted not asking Angelina Jolie, who I was surprised to find is quite petite, how she avoided looking tiny when fighting the stuntmen. Apparently, they have a crew of tiny stuntmen.

  • avatar

    All I can say for this ad is that it did its job of distracting from the hideous styling of the CLA. OTOH, it did nothing to create awareness of the car. It seems to me that it would have been cheaper to not make a commercial at all, since the point was to not reveal the car anyway. I’m convinced MB also spread around a bit of cash in efforts to plant stories about how racy this ad is supposed to be. Maybe it is because I live at the beach, where women look better than this one and wear less, but this commercial wouldn’t raise Amish pulse rates.

  • avatar

    I think a broader problem with Mercedes Benz and BMW is their lack of global volume. I see them struggling in the future to sustain cutting-edge technology and R&D budgets without either increasing their volume. They could either do this by “dilluting” the brand value (think Porsche) for more sales or obtaining a mainline or budget brand (kind of what Fiat is trying to do with Chrysler). Ultimately, they need to become more like VW, although not necessarily with as many brands.

    It seems like they are trying to get the benefits of a larger comany via shared projects with other companies (BMW and Toyota, MB and Nissan). I think it will TBD how it all pans out in the future.

  • avatar

    TTAC has gone full retard. Back in MB/BMW’s perceived heyday they would have been crying about how a 318i offered nothing more than a Corolla SR-5 but cost 5x as much. Now their prices are too accessible.

    Well, you guys win. I’m here and you got your damn view for this tripe. To hell with journalism, controversy is what sells. The second T in TTAC now stands for “TROLL”

    • 0 avatar


    • 0 avatar

      Here’s how every Merc or BMW article will playout:

      1. Merc or BMW Offer a Lower Priced Car: “They’re are losing their brand identity and cheapening their perceived image. They used to be high end driver’s cars, but now their just grabbing at market share. Not that I was ever going to, but I definitely won’t be buying one now.”

      2. Merc or BMW Offer a Better Product for a Higher Price: “I can’t believe people buy this stuff. It must be completely based on status chasing. They couldn’t possibly buy them because they’re better. After all, you can buy an Accord, or Camry that technically has all the same stuff. Not that I was ever going to, but I definitely won’t be buying one now.”

      Side-Note: If it’s anything to do with Porsche, the article will more than likely be written by Jack. It will tell you that air cooled is better, purer, and that water cooled are driven by tasteless nouveau riche DBs who couldn’t possibly have the appreciation for the cars that he does. Petro-Hipster commenters will fawn over his greatness and wholeheartedly agree.

      • 0 avatar

        Please, please, can you start writing for TTAC to offer some antidote to all this: beater driving, no girlfriend having, dead end tech job toiling, petro-hipster idiocy.

      • 0 avatar

        @ jmo

        Thanks. It’s crossed my mind. Started out by writing a letter direct to the editors to express some concern about where the site was headed. Let’s say it was not well received.

        • 0 avatar


          I received zero indication that you felt my response to your email was unsatisfactory. I do recall your email, and I recall both Bertel and myself asking for more specific information after you emailed us a long list of sins allegedly committed by TTAC and the readers over the last 6 years. When I asked you more more specific information, you essentially recanted your charges and apologized.

          Since I take “customer service” very seriously (reading and replying to every reader email, for example) I feel compelled to address this issue.

      • 0 avatar

        Pity that. If they don’t want to listen, then they can kiss their credibility and ad revenue goodbye. This used to be my top site to check, car wise. Now it is number 4 out of about 5, and if this kind of dreck is the new normal, it’s gonna get replaced. Ill just read speed sport life when I want to see what Jack has to say, or figure out some way to get my Murilee fix. Or figure out how I can get to Michael K’s reviews without having to pass through here. Because this shit is getting ridiculous.

      • 0 avatar

        @jmo, tick:

        Calling those of us that enjoy old (but not show quality) cars a bunch of beater-driving jealous no-life losers is not really any more productive than the “petro-hipster” comments you are complaining about.

        Why not respond to the individual commenter that you disagree with instead of painting us all with such a broad, negative brush?

      • 0 avatar


        I’m not saying “everyone” by any stretch. I’m specifically calling out a certain sector of folks on this site that have been dominating it’s content recently.

        I love old and obscure cars or I wouldn’t be on this site. My issue is with the vitriol directed at anyone who aspires to drive anything even remotely expensive. Hence my coining of the term: Petro-Hipster. There’s more to the autosphere than panthers and air cooled porsches.

        If I got on here and called every Subaru driver a lesbian, I’d get slaughtered. But come on here and say that every BMW driver is a nouveau riche douche bag, and it’s perfectly fine. That’s my beef. I’m not rich by any stretch, but I aspire to be someday. If you want to mumble about my (future)911 in the privacy of your car, go for it, but on here I have a voice to say something back.

      • 0 avatar

        Tick – you nailed it.

      • 0 avatar


        I went back and reviewed our email correspondence. I tried in my original email to explain that I was seeing overall trending issues on the site I had been visiting for literally years. Both your and Bertel’s emails asked that I provide details as to which articles specifically illustrated the points I was trying to make.

        I replied back with “In all fairness I may have been confusing some of the comments I have been seeing with the actual writers, which in that case, I would owe you all an apology. However I will dive into the website again and see if I can find specific examples”

        I wish I had the time to review all the articles I have read in the past six years to try and show specific examples that indicate the trend I am seeing, however I just don’t. I do occasionally, have the time to point out those examples as they crop up in new articles. I’m also trying to call out those commenters who seem to drive this overall feel as well.

        I think it’s fair to say, that I am not the only person who is seeing this trend.

        To directly quote my first email: “It’s your website, do want you guys feel is best. I just know that honest criticism early is better than monday morning quarterbacking after failure. I honestly wish you good luck in your business moving forward.”

        I will try and get back to you via private email later tonight or tomorrow. I wasn’t looking to get this into things openly, but I’ll be in touch. Let me reiterate. If I didn’t like this website and want it to succeed, I wouldn’t be here commenting and trying to change things.

      • 0 avatar

        @ Derek

        So touchy. And unprofessional.

  • avatar

    Memo to all automotive brands: Ask GM how chasing volume has worked out in the long run for them. (And to a lesser extent Ford and Chrysler).

    Wait scratch that, GM THINKS it worked out FABULOUSLY for them. We the consumer are the problem.

  • avatar

    “So will this blatant pandering to the next generation of Mercedes-Benz owners help or hurt the brand?”

    It won’t make a difference. There is no evidence that pretty girls and booth babes help sell cars. If it was that simple, Mercury would be a best-selling brand.

  • avatar

    Did I miss something? The “new” BMW 320i starts at $32,550 (plus destination so lets call it $33K).

    Which makes it an especially bad deal considering the 2012 328xi started at $35K (which means that a 328 S drive probably started at $33K).

    BMW fans should not be worried that this car will dilute their precious brand, they should be more worried that this will become the status quo for BMW. Higher prices for consecutively shittier engines.

  • avatar

    I keep watching the video but haven’t seen this car you speak of . . . . .

  • avatar

    Having just bought a 535i, because I got tired of showing up to work in a dented farm truck, I can say that I really don’t give a crap about what “entry-level” models (or SUVs for that matter) do to MB/BMW’s image, since I’d never buy one, or drive one… as long as they will continue building cars I want to own.

    As for this Upton chick, I have no idea who the hell she is, or why I should find her presence in an ad important.

  • avatar

    Mercedes hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire so trying a different strategy can’t hurt.

    The introduction of the CLA is a non-event for most people, including existing non-enthusiast customers. I mean it is not like MB decided to release a competitor to the Chevy Sonic. The only people who seem to care are enthusiasts which is strange since enthusiasts only ever buy vehicles based on completely tangible qualities like horsepower, handling, interior appointments etc…right?

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. I can’t see any S class or AMG owners even caring that this is in their dealership, or that the hypothetical prole is sitting in the same service dept as they are. It’s one of the looniest car forum legends known to man.

  • avatar

    I learned more about this CLA from Lewis Hamilton’s recent video of his visit to AMG.

  • avatar

    I don’t get much of the hate for the CLA, except for the fact that it’s front wheel drive and cheaper than a C-Class.

    It’s only in America that they care whether Mercedes sells cars cheaper than the E-Class. The rest of the world merrily accepts A-Class and B-Class Mercs, as well as Mercedes vans that are about as luxurious as airline coach.

    I think the CLA is a pretty good idea. Create a sub-C-Class that isn’t an ungainly plastic-lined box on wheels (B-Class) that looks somewhat good, promises to drive somewhat well, and has the aerodynamics of a bar of soap (0.23 cd? Insane).

    The CLA has a longer wheelbase and more leg-room than the ungainly 1-series five-door and offers 150 mph performance from just 208 hp thanks to its slippery shape. You’d think that would make people happy, but all anyone can focus on is that you can get a much bigger, much faster Camry for the same money.

    Well… duh.

    The B-Class was also Camry money, but was an utter piece of poop. We ought to be celebrating the fact that Mercedes is offering something more stylish and faster for similar money.

    Not that I would buy any “premium” car… absolute waste of money. But if you were, why not pick a good one?

  • avatar

    Not crazy about her skinny legs but the add is a hoot!!
    It may be the best thing MB has come up with in years.
    Lets wait for a road test b-4 we get too crazy here….
    It just might be a solid BMW competitor.As far as Hyundai and Kia are concerned…they need to be!!!

  • avatar

    Pretty good looking car for MB and a FWD platform. They going to have optional Ford style AWD? (FWD based AWD via viscious coupling) or are they not even bothering with that.

    I rented a C class as was disappointed with how it drives – well behind Audi, BMW and probably Infiniti. It had surprising numb steering for RWD and alot of turbo lag from the 1.8 liter engine even in sport mode.

    So not sure they are really going for driving dynamics anyway.
    This looks to be some competition for Ford/Dodge in the decent looking sedan department. (Expect the new Avenger replacement to be nice looking..) Dodge already made the best looking domestic cars and teaming up with italians won’t change that..

    BMW is the one that really shouldn’t go FWD with BMWs. They should expand the mini line instead.

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