By on September 16, 2014

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA 250

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: I erroneously reported production would be increased at MBUSI in Vance, Ala. alongside the Hungary facility. That’s what I get for reading the dateline and interpreting things as such. My apologies. — CA]

With demand still strong and supply still tight months later, Mercedes-Benz is pumping up production capacity to bring more CLAs to showrooms in the United States.

Automotive News reports 14,113 copies of the $30,825 entry-level premium sedan were sold in the United States during the last four months of 2013, with the most sold overall in October at 4,895 units. Additionally, 15,676 CLAs left the showroom floor from January through August of this year.

Thus, the facility in Kecskement, Hungary that produces the CLA added a third shift in May to help meet demand the world over, having made a total of 109,266 in 2013 alone. The plant will also host production of a CLA shooting brake, a vehicle Mercedes has “no current plans” to bring over to the U.S., according to a representative.

As for how many CLAs will be leaving Vance, Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche didn’t specify, though he did expect “a positive reaction” to the boost in production.

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88 Comments on “Mercedes Increases Production To Meet US CLA Demand...”


  • avatar

    It’s what Cadillac and Mercedes had in common until the CLA arrived: older people. With this entry level Mercedes the Germans succeeded in attracting a much younger public. It’s a strategy Cadillac really should look into.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      I’d like to introduce you to the Cadillac ATS, voyager.

      Unfortunately, the ATS starts about $7,000 more than the CLA and Cadillac has nowhere near the brand cachet that Merc does.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Not sure about equipment levels, but a quick website look shows the CLA starting at 29,9 an the Caddy at 33,0. And the Merc is FWD which seems way more like a generi-midsize.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          The CLA is pretty compact. It has less interior room in just about every measurement than the ATS, especially in the back seat. If one cares about passenger space, a Chevy Sonic sedan offers more room.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I’m absolutely serious when I state that Cadillac should do a rebadge of the Cruze, with the 2.0T motor (the 2.5 is too awful for any vehicle).

            They could MSRP it at $28,999, sell it at $24k even, lease it with $0 down at $229/month, and they’d sell 5x as many of them as the subpar, grossly overpriced, ridiculously tight, ATS.

            And I’m a rwd diehard.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            ” (the 2.5 is too awful for any vehicle)”

            But GM always has the option to outsource a Toyota 2.4, or license with Toyota to build their own.

            It’s not like this hasn’t been done before, like GM’s use of a Honda V6 in the Saturn. Or Chrysler’s use of a VW I-4 in their K-cars.

            I remember AMC using……

            But I digress……..

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            @DW,

            Isn’t an upscale Cruze with the 2.0T already present in the Verano?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Yep.

            But the Cadillac version would have sharp edged taillights and that new Cadillac wreath.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Yeah, I’ll stick to my Tri-Shield.

            In fact, I had to “fix” my tri-sheild, since Buick monochromed the damn things.

            http://i749.photobucket.com/albums/xx140/dave_bernardin/IMG_4862_zps0f1ea5e5.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Will you remove that color mod before you return your lease? Or just try and see if they don’t notice.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            This Cadillac Cruze you speak of. I think basically what you’re talking about is the ill-fated BLS.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I don’t think I will Corey.

            1) its better this way
            b) no one will notice. No one HAS noticed yet.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            It is better, I agree!

            Is there some way to get an emblem from a Chinese Buick and put it on the front?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Mercedes can get away with selling stupidly overpriced small cars with vinyl seats and zero room – I mean, entry-level premium cars – because it’s Mercedes (at least it is for now, anyway). Cadillac is not Mercedes. It needs a CLA fighter like it needs a brain tumor.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Remember what happened last time Cadillac rebadged a compact Chevy and jacked the price? It darn nearly killed them.

        A Daewoo Cadillac WOULD kill them.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          We’re living in Idiocracy, bro. It won’t matter. “Wazz my monthly payment, salesbuddy?”

          If the CLA is selling as well as it is, what does that tell you?

          “Welcome to Costco. I love you.”

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I have to inject it was the 4100 disaster that nearly killed Cadillac. Cimmaron was a sideshow in comparison. Hell in 1984/5 it was the most reliable option (Olds 307 did not come out in Brougham until MY86, 4100 was standard across the model line).

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Cadillac was in trouble before the early 1980s, regardless of the record sales years of 1977-79.

            Truly wealthy buyers and rich Baby Boomers were already moving to Mercedes before the crappy 4100, Cimarron and variable-displacement V-8.

            I would also argue that Lincoln benefited more from the crappy 4100 V-8 than Mercedes-Benz did.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I very much agree Lincoln benefited, but so did fledgeling startups at Acura, Infiniti and to an extent Lexus (although I argue Lexus would have succeeded not matter what). I personally believe neither Acura or Infiniti would still exist in North America if Cadillac had not been so weak at the time of their introduction.

            I also agree the truly rich were developing a taste for German cars. Boomers maybe, but plenty of Boomers I grew up around still bought Lincoln/Cadillac/Chrysler luxury and Oldsmobuick. I still remember BMWs and the like being a “yuppie thing” not the default luxury car choice.

  • avatar

    Interesting mention of a “CLA shooting brake”…does M-B call it that? IMO, a shooting brake is a 2-door estate car (or, in modern parlance, 3-door). The 4-door-with-hatchback I’ve seen based on the CLA is apparently targeted at the Audi A3 (Sport-back I think they call it–a hideous term). ‘Tis no shooting brake, though.

    Also, why “Merc” and not “Benz” when shortening the name? To my mind, Merc is short for Mercury (R.I.P.).

    • 0 avatar
      snakebit

      Just a little history, folks writing from the UK like to use the abbreviation ‘Merc’ rather than ‘Benz’, I know, takes getting used to if you’re from the States. Also, the term ‘Shooting Brake’ is another UK term used mostly for older cars like the DB5, DB6, and Silver Cloud,when converted to what we would call ‘station wagon’, probably comes from a car meant for fox(or other critter) hunting, not necessarily confined to how many doors. See Harold Radford Coachbuilders for custom versions, probably like what some cars are now referred to as ‘sportwagons’.

      Also, still baffled by the popularity of the CLA, which to me is just a Mercedes-Benz interpretation of Accord or Camry. I’d rather shop for a nice preowned reardrive C Class if that amount of capital is all one can spend while still wanting a real Mercedes, just me.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        1) It looks pretty good in person. Women dig that. 2) It’s got the right badge on the front. Women dig that too. 3) Most of the well-to-do women I come into contact with are still pretty thin and petite, so they don’t care that it’s tight inside.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    My my, what a dignified and prestigious conveyance and personal wealth statement.

    On opposite day. And the grille looks like one of those things with metal pins and a glass front that people bought in the 90s. You press your face or hand into it and it made an image, which could be saved if you kept it vertically upright.

  • avatar
    50merc

    Now even the hoi polloi can own a Packard 110–er, I mean, Mercedes-Benz CLA.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Packard’s mistake was not in offering the 110. It was in discontinuing the V-12 after 1939, and then basing the remaining eight-cylinder senior cars on the 120 platform. Instead of the 110 and 120 looking like scaled-down “big” Packards, the remaining senior cars looked like overblown junior Packards.

      Packard also allowed its styling to get stale, and didn’t respond fast enough when GM rolled out Hydramatic. The mid-year 1941 Clipper was an effective response to the Cadillac Sixty Special (although it debuted three years later), but its momentum was destroyed when the government suspended civilian car production in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack.

      If Mercedes cans the S-Class, and then makes the E-Class a glorified version of the C-Class, and fails to update its cars regularly, then it will be in trouble, too. But offering the CLA will not, by itself, devalue the brand.

      In Europe there are plenty of C-Classes and E-Classes being used as taxi cabs and police cars (just like our late, lamented Panther cars). A fair number of “civilian” C-Classes are not very luxuriously equipped. And then there is the A-Class. But the S-Class is still considered to be a very prestigious car over there.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Mercedes may do a full line, ala Ford, in Europe, but this ain’t Europe.

        This car is an utter POS by North American Mercedes standards.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          As long as the C, E and S-Class meet expectations, Mercedes will be okay. If anything, buyers of the CLA will overlook the car’s shortcomings because of the three-pointed star on the front. Is that logical or reasonable? Maybe not, but cars such as this are not sold in the basis of logic or reasoning.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Rewriting Geeber’s post, and moving the setting to a boardroom somewhere in Detroit in 1980…I’m guessing this is something similar to the way that conversation went:

            “As long as the Seville, Eldorado and DeVille meet expectations, Cadillac will be okay. If anything, buyers of the Cimmaron will overlook the car’s shortcomings because of the Cadillac wreath on the front.”

            If Mercedes made the CLA to actual Mercedes standards, and sold it as a loss leader to bring new blood into the showrooms, then I agree with you. Smart move on their part. But the CLA is a LONG way from being up to Mercedes’ usual standards. It’s not as bad as a Cimarron, but that’s faint praise, and the effect is the same: cheapening a brand. And the twenty-something dingbat fashionista types that buy this because it’s a $30,000 Mercedes will be off to the next $30,000 blingmobile when their leases are up – or they might smart up and figure out they’ve been taken. Hell, if they get a new C-class as a service loaner they’ll figure it out.

            Either way, this particular car doesn’t build brand loyalty for Mercedes – it’s just this week’s most fashionable pair of jeans, or smartphone.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            The problem is that, by the time the Cimarron debuted, Mercedes had already supplanted Cadillac as “The Standard of the World.”

            Cadillac began slipping in the late 1960s, and slide really gained momentum with the debut of the 1971 models, which were noticeably cheapened compared to their predecessors.

            Cadillac sales held up because its prices had actually FALLEN in relation to purchasing power, and the Cadillac name still resonated with the Greatest Generation.

            The rot had set in at Cadillac well over a decade before the debut of the Cimarron. The Cimarron and the lousy variable-displacement V-8 marked the point where the general public realized that the bloom was off the Cadillac rose. This happened just as the first of the Baby Boomers entered the luxury market, and the last thing most of them aspired to was a Cadillac – whether it was a gussied-up Cavalier or an Eldorado. They didn’t want ANY Cadillac, and they didn’t suddenly discover that they didn’t want a Cadillac only when the Cimarron popped up in Cadillac showrooms.

            The current E and S-Class are still desirable cars, and certainly aren’t tarnished in the manner that the DeVille, Fleetwood and Eldorado were by the mid-1970s, let alone the early 1980s.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            And Mercedes’ slogan is “the best or nothing.”

            The CLA ain’t “the best.”

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I want to watch a long, well-done documentary about Packard. Does such a thing exist? Preferably not from a History Channel series.

        Every time I read about Packard, it’s always pointing to engine designs and a refuse to move forward in time by Packard execs as one of the big downfalls of the company. It sounds like they had some old-time hardliners who wouldn’t budge, or believe anybody wanted anything modern in their luxury conveyance.

        • 0 avatar
          Syke

          In lieu of a television documentary, go to Ate Up With Motor and read everything there about Packard. Do them in the cars chronological order, and you’ll get an excellent explanation as to why the brand failed. I go back and reread them every so often, they’re fascinating.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Mercedes makes everything right down to garbage trucks and snow plows. This does not bother anyone in the rest of the world. Only in the US is it somehow a terrible thing to have a Mercedes that is merely a nice car, and not a luxobarge.

        And IMHO, once you get down to this size of car, FWD only makes sense. Having looked at but not driven a CLA, it seems to me there difference is about the same between it and a C-class and between a C and an E, and an E and an S. Which seems perfectly appropriate given the relative prices. I don’t get why all the hatorade for this car around here, other than sheer jealousy by a bunch who will never be able to afford any of them anyway. It’s like any car, if you don’t like it, don’t buy one. But enough people like this car that Mercedes is having to increase production, which speaks volumes.

        • 0 avatar
          ect

          OMG, a thoroughly rational post!

          How did that get through?

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Loved that post too. It’s always entertaining to see silly fusspots try to nay-say success.

            Jesus, it’s just another car choice. It’s not like some rapper barking out Ave Maria while jacking on the stage. It couldn’t be *that* popular.

        • 0 avatar

          That “can’t afford one” argument only works on cars people can’t actually afford. Any a**hole can afford the CLA. And that’s the problem. Its not even that well-designed or -engineered of a car.

  • avatar

    Buy for $29,995, Lease for $299/mo, or rent for $29.99/day! Yup, rent. SIXT is already dumping a bunch of these things. 3 running today in Orlando, 5 more in Tampa this Thursday.

    Oprah needs to get in on this.

    You get a CLA, you get a CLA, EVERY-BODY-GETS-A-CLA!!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      We don’t have SIXT here so I went to their website. From MIA, the Benz CLA is $39.00/day and is LESS than the CHEVY CRUZE at $39.59/day. Camry 45/day, and ATS 79/day. Gee who is NOT going to opt for the cheaper psudo-luxury car (CLA) vs the expensive psedo-luxury car (ATS) or mundane Cruze, esp since we know ATS will be the 2.5 I4.

      http://i60.tinypic.com/sxy98w.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        I have a “premium” rental from Hertz out of MIA this upcoming weekend – four days, $120 all-in. For my dollar, I’ll take a Maxima, Lucerne or Taurus, with a shot at a Genesis or S60, over a CLA any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          In this list, its Genesis or bust for me. I haven’t driven the EUCD S60 but the EUCD S80 is a bore.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I’m in the minority, but I think the Chrysler 300 has the best road manners, powertain, refinement, interior space, quietness/NVH qualities and especially, ride comfort, of the cruisers.

            If only Chrysler would tone down & civilize the exterior a bit.

            The best part is that you can get into a base 300 w/standard leather for around 26k that drives, sounds and feels better than many cars costing 15k more.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I’ll tell you the problem I have with the 300.

            It’s not the price, that’s good.
            It’s not the power or the drivetrain, those are good. I don’t have a problem with Chrysler making a “luxury” car, as this one qualifies if optioned enough.

            It’s the exterior and interior. The design is dated and they don’t know what to do with it. The interior, even on the most fancy ones, is meh. But you’re into luxury money then and it’s not up to snuff.

            The final problem is the clientele which drive them. The car (once used) quickly falls into low-class Autozone sticker portholes crowd, which ruins the new ones as well. I would be embarassed to drive a 300 around for this reason.

            Solution: Make a better one, try harder, and make it less 8-Mile and more 12-year. Imperial.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            I agree that the interior/exterior need a refresh.

            The chassis, suspension, transmission and motors are solid.

            I have a friend who dumped a late model Genesis Sedan for a 300, taking a huge hit in the process, because he couldn’t stand the ride quality (or lack thereof) in the Genesis, and he said the 300 rides like a Rolls compared to the Genny.

            I am not sure if the new ’15 Genesis is fundamentally better in terms of ride quality than the last generation.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “The interior, even on the most fancy ones, is meh. But you’re into luxury money then and it’s not up to snuff.”

            I’m not sure which 300 models you’ve been inside, but those with the luxury interior options have some of the nicest interiors that you can buy for 5 digits. Top shelf leather, real wood inserts (available in different colors), nice materials all around. If that’s meh to you, I’d love to see what you think is a shining example in a car that costs anywhere near what the 300 does.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think generally it’s the styling inside. It looks very dated to me, everything looks “roundy,” and sort of cheapo.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I had a Genesis from Hertz a couple weeks ago in Dallas. It was hilariously cheap and nasty inside. It all kind of looks like Lexus, until you touch any of it or look closely. I was severely underwhelmed. Better than a rat-fur lined Maxima, but that doesn’t take much. I would rather have a Regal 2.0T any day. Just turned in a new 4cyl Volvo S60 in Cleveland Sunday – the less said the better. Blech. Though the new full-lcd instrument cluster is purdy.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            @krhodes –

            Did you have the new, 2015 Genesis? If so, that’s disappointing (I had hoped they would have improved the current gen significantly, as I really disliked it in terms of suspension attributes, steering numbness and girth/weight for no good reason.

            I agree with you re the Regal 2.0T. It’s one of the best vehicles GM makes, and this Opel would have made a far more compelling entry level vehicle for Cadillac than the ATS.

            (I think European Opels ride fantastically – even the ones that make it here, like the Regal, or even the now defunct Saturn Astra)

    • 0 avatar

      I would not *buy* a CLA, but you could do worse than to rent one for $30 a day…

  • avatar
    MrH42

    The CLA isn’t produced in Alabama. It’s produced in Hungary. The article states they’re increasing capacity there to meet US demand, not at MBUSI.

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    I think it looks good. Not surprised sales are strong. Obviously still to early to pass judgement on quality and reliability.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Once upon a time, I bought a fake Rolex. It was absolutely perfect, as fakes go. Even jewelers couldn’t pick it out as a fake right away. And then it quit after about a year. Lesson? There’s a reason why premium stuff costs premium money.

    And now we have the fake Rolex of Mercedes cars, the CLA. It looks great on the lot, but when you get up close, you notice things like the cheap interior trim, and the back seat that’s suited only for American Girl dolls. You notice the front bumper is a cheap soft-plastic cap, ala mid-’70s Chevy Monzas. You’ll notice that for $35,000, you get vinyl seats, no nav and no sunroof.

    But people buy it because it’s a “Mercedes” knockoff. Which proves that Mercedes buyers are apt to be as stupid as I was to buy a fake Rolex.

    An Accord EX-L V-6 is radically superior in every possible way to this knockoff…and cheaper to boot.

    But then again, some twentysomething moron won’t be able to photobomb the car onto her Facebook page with the headline “Like, OMG, I have a Mercedes!” It looks like one, but if you’ve ever driven a REAL Mercedes, you know the CLA is as ersatz as the fake Rolex I wasted $100 on.

    • 0 avatar

      Eh, if I was looking at a V6 Accord sedan, I think I’d just go for the Touring. I’ve seen them as cheap as $31K around here, but they’re very nice cars. They’re smooth, powerful and they have all of the features that the Europeans would charge twice as much to get.

      But if I really wanted a subcompact, “luxury” German car, I’d go for the A3 instead. It’s not as insulting when Audi makes such cars because Audi got its start with making semi-premium, FWD, VW-based vehicles…and they do it well. And the A3’s geometric styling is the handsome alternative to the CLA-Class’ overwrought shapes and creases. Or, better yet, a CPO A4.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I need to go inside a current Accord. The newest one I’ve been in was a 2012 Special Edition, and I was very underwhelmed by the quality of everything in there.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The last-gen Accord left a lot to be desired, and the interior was definitely not a strong point. The current gen is better.

          I recently drove a four-cylinder Accord Sport with the six speed manual and it’s astoundingly good.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I recently drove a new Accord V6 and thought it was a steaming pile of MEH for the price. And the road noise was still ridiculous. And it was basically the price of a 320i, which I would prefer any day.

            I was out shopping with a friend who was looking to trade an ’08 Accord, which he rather disliked. We tried about every mid-sizer out there, he ended up with a loaded Fusion Titanium for a very good price.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      “Like OMG I have BUICK!”

      Said no one ever.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I said it when I first got my Riv.

      • 0 avatar

        I’ve been saying it since I was in 6th grade. I did my freshman high school learn-about-a-brand-you-like project on General Motors. I had a picture of a Park Avenue Ultra on my bedroom wall. My favorite Christmas presents were a set of The Standard Encyclopedias of Buick, Cadillac, and Oldsmobile my dad bought me. I took driver’s ed senior year simply because the local Buick dealer sponsored the program with cars (my passing test was completed in gold Olympic Edition Regal LS). Buick became the inside joke amongst my friends, but I know my fanatical obsession with GM actually translated into two sales – one of my close friends bought a SAAB 9-3 Arc and another talked her mother into getting a Rainier for their shared car.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I get pretty excited when Hertz blesses me with a Regal Turbo. I truly like them, reminds me so much of the Saab 9-3 in how it drives.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Honestly, I’d get more excited about a Regal turbo than a CLA…

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      You paid $100 for a fake Rolex that you knew was fake?

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    This is why we can’t have nice things, America: not because people respond negatively when someone produces something great, but because people respond positively when someone produces cr#p. Why bother making a superior product when people are too dumb to want one?

    (Just don’t look at what happened to Cadillac in the 80’s)

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    Mercedes civics for everyone! This is the real peoples car!

    How much a downward march can prestige brand endure? Is it the right choice in the long run?

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      I’m afraid that the answer is going to be a lot further down than the A-Class. Maybe call it the AA and AAA Class.

      The marketing lesson seems to be this: as long as you build decent higher end products like the SLS, SL, and S Class, you’ll have a comfortable cushion to protect your brand. That cushion is a weakness that Acura, Infiniti, Cadillac, and Lincoln can’t enjoy because they don’t play in the $100k+ space.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        I dunno. I remember the BMW 318ti not exactly setting the world on fire.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          I understand why you thought of the 318ti when you were discussing the CLA, but to my mind, I don’t have the same complaints myself. For one, the 318ti (technically the sole US version was called the E36 Compact) was rear-drive like its siblings the E36 sedan and coupe, it had the same four cylinder as used in the regular 318iS coupe and 318i sedan, and it borrowed its rear suspension from the previous E30 models so that the load floor was more useful. You can argue that its switchgear was older than that used on other E36 models. Sure, it felt ocassionally like it was built to a price, but it still drove like a real 3 Series. You could make the same case for the 2000-2002 MB C230 SportCoupe, sort of a 318ti knockoff, but to my mind, much more cheaply built, but at least still rear-drive. Neither BMW or MB sold well enough for their prospective firms to keep importing them(the BMW ran from roughly 1995 until 1998 model years, I don’t have the import years for the MB. But again, the CLA is in its own lower rung on the MB ladder. About the only use I can think of for the CLA is to give the buyer something to really look forward to when they can move into a genuine Mercedes. Again, I would choose a pre-owned two-year-old C Class sedan over a brand new CLA all day.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I wouldn’t buy a CLA, but it sure looks like a Mercedes inside and out to me. Just smaller. I see no problem with what is effectively a nicer Jetta. Why not? Not everyone NEEDS a big car, and there is no reason small cars need to be cheap. It is a lot more dramatic looking than an A3, so I can see why some people would choose it over one.

            Had we gotten 6-cyl or 4-cyl turbo e36 Compacts here in the US, I bet they would have sold a lot more of them. In that heavy a car, the old M44 could not really deliver the goods in an era when NOBODY cared a bit about fuel economy. They were also barely cheaper than the rest of the e36 lineup, so the only reason to buy one was if you really wanted the hatch. The Mercedes was available mit Kompressor, as I recall, but a small hatch was maybe a bit too much of a stretch for them in those days. And they were spendy too.

          • 0 avatar
            HotPotato

            In the US, Mercedes have always been more about conspicuous consumption than anything. At first they were obscenely overpriced, ponderous handling barges that lasted forever: a way for old money to make a statement about their wealth and prudent judgment. Eventually the durability part diminished and the bling factor went up instead: a way for new money to make a statement about their wealth and feel like the Kardashians.

            I haven’t driven the CLA, and I’m willing to bet most people slagging it here haven’t either. So it looks fancy and expensive but in reality it’s reasonably affordable. That’s good in a Ford Fusion but bad in a Mercedes?

            Biff and Muffy, not penny-pinching enthusiasts, bought most of the BMW 320i cars back in the 80s, and most of the Audi A4 cars in the 2000s. So it has always been… Audi gives us an overpriced VW with a rough 4 cyl engine, small interior, extortionate servicing costs, and plebeian FWD, and we all clap. Mercedes does the same, and we lose our flippin minds?

            This brand dilution concern seems excessive. If you want downmarket, look at a 2-door Mercedes A Class.

          • 0 avatar
            snakebit

            Hot Potato,

            I think you and I have different starting points referencing MB “at first”. My version begins during the period of 1967-1970 when they began to get noticed, and when an S-class sold for around $6600 or $400 less than a Sedan DeVille. It might have power windows, AC, and stereo FM, but also a six cylinder, manual seats, and MB Tex, not really ostentatious. I would peg the very last version of C-Class as the closest equivalent model today.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Mercedes Lite. Cars like this will eventually tarnish the Mercedes brand image.

    • 0 avatar

      Eventually? They sold the RL for chrissake.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      It’s a source of mild fascination to me that in this age of information sharing it seems the majority of Mercedes Benz customers aren’t aware of the range of products available in other markets.

      I wouldn’t and don’t have a problem with smaller cars, built more to a price, sharing a showroom with their larger brethren which are also built to a price–there’s just a bit more padding built in.

      Mercedes runs the gamut. From the A Class to the S. Delivery vans, city buses, garbage trucks, OTR semis and military vehicles are all adorned with the tri-star. Yet here in the states, Mercedes believes (and it might very well be true) that if their customers became aware, it would somehow tarnish the brand.

      Fascinating.

      I’m not quite sure what it says about U.S. consumers though.

      • 0 avatar
        superchan7

        The problem with the CLA is that it’s selling itself as a “luxury car” on basis of style and badge.

        When I buy an A-class (I can’t; I live in the US) I know I am buying a city car and I don’t really care to brag about it. When I ride an MB Citaro in Paris, I am not much different from someone in London riding an Alexander Enviro or someone in New York riding on a Gillig (actually, the last part is false. The Gillig carries more bums and drunkards, so there is a difference).

        This car was clearly designed for the “Guess what I bought! A MERCEDES” crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      HotPotato

      Audi sells an overpriced Jetta with FWD and a rough 4-cylinder and we all clap. Mercedes does the same and we lose our flippin minds. What am I missing?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    You know why I love the CLA?

    Because it gave the C class room to breathe.

    Now we’re getting a baby E-class with an S-class interior for well under $50K.

    First interesting car to my eyeballs that I could put in the driveway Mercedes has come out with in close to two decades.

    • 0 avatar

      I do think the new C-Class is an excellent vehicle, from what I’ve seen and read. It’s nice to see Mercedes-Benz stop chasing the crowded compact sport-sedan segment and do what they do best…luxury limousines. I feel like their target and prospective markets will respond much more favorably to the “baby E/S-Class”. While BMW and Audi try to ding you with pleather materials and optional satellite radios, Mercedes-Benz gives you what you wanted in the first place, which is a *luxury* vehicle. And I’m sure it’ll maintain some semblance of athleticism as well…

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I don’t get the hangups about German vinyl. The Germans have been using that stuff FOREVER. It’s better than leather, which is a really crap material to use in a car. MY ’88 300TE, which many folks think is one of the pinnacles of Mercedes car making, had vinyl seats and cost almost $50K 26 years ago – you didn’t even get an electric driver’s side mirror at that price. I LIKE that I can buy a German car without all that extra crap. Choice is a good thing. My only complaint with BMW is that they only offer the vinyl in meh colors. Black, beige, or gray. At least my Mercedes was Navy Blue inside.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @krhodes1 I don’t get the hangups about German vinyl.

          Especially now that modern leather seems to consist of a single layer of cow skin cells coated with vinyl paint

        • 0 avatar

          I have “V-Tex” in my Jetta SportWagen (partially because I like it and partially because VW doesn’t offer actual leather on that model). I actually don’t mind V-Tex and I mostly don’t mind MBTex, but BMW’s leatherette leaves much to be desired. That’s a moot point for me, of course, because I’d have to go with the “Comfort” or “Sport” seats in any Bimmer, and those seem to be wrapped exclsively in leather.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            What do you find unpleasant about BMWs vinyl compared to the others? Seems like pretty much the same stuff to me, with VWs being noticeably thinner and cheaper feeling.

            Sport does not necessarily mean leather, at least on the 1, 2, and 3. Leather was and is usually either a standalone option, or included in the Premium Pkg. There were exceptions over the years. Some years of 335i had leather standard, and some years of at least the 328i wagon (my ’11 included) had leather as part of the free “Value Package”. But whether they seats are sport seats or not is irrelevant. If you got the sport package, or now sport line, they come covered in whatever you otherwise ordered. And it can be VERY difficult to tell the difference in the car – the big giveaway is the stitching pattern, they pretty much feel the same either way. Which makes sense, as automotive leather at less than optional 5-series level, is pretty much just painted cow hide. And after a few years it shows.

  • avatar

    If I can remember it correctly, Cadillac practically owned the U.S. luxury car market in the 70’s, accounting for approx. fifty percent. That has shrunk to less than nine percent this year. Now the Germans own fifty percent of the U.S. luxury car market. As one commentator wrote: the more Cadillac waits, the less (financial) room there is to maneuver… and to compete.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    It’s a fake Mercedes : it’s FWD and it’s got no style(just shmancy fancy colours and messy ‘cheap-pumped.up-hyped’ design..) ..

    MB is making money on ignorant, nouveau-riche hipsters .. and because this car is quite $uccesfull($ellout) .. the others will follow ..
    (As somebody’s writen here: GM should dress Chevy Cruze into ‘Caddy’s clothes .. and today .. nobody will notice(maybe except some ‘underground car magasines’:) , because the mainstream ones[that need adds to survive] will follow corporate-PR bull$..t )..


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