By on December 11, 2014

12_Mercedes-Benz-CLA250-4Matic-550x384

The sub-$30,000 Mercedes-Benz is no more. For 2015, Mercedes is raising the price of its popular CLA sedan by about 5 percent, putting it above the critical psychological threshold.

As CarsDirect reports

The base MSRP for a front-wheel drive CLA250 jumps from $29,900 to $31,500, an increase of $1,600 or 5.4%. The all-wheel drive 4MATIC goes from $31,900 to $33,500, the equivalent of $1,600 or 5.0%. The top-tier CLA45 AMG creeps up $1,050 or 2.2%, from $47,450 to $48,500. (All prices exclude a $925 destination charge.)

Sales of the CLA have been brisk, with tight inventories leading to minimal discounting on the baby Benz. But the Audi A3 is giving it some competition in the relatively new entry-level German luxury car segment. Whether Audi will follow M-B’s lead or stick to the $29,990 sticker price remains to be seen.

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45 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz Hikes CLA Price Above $30k Threshold...”


  • avatar
    theupperonepercent

    Reminds me of how TESLA claimed the Model S would start around $55,000 (give or take tax rebates) and then suddenly axed the 45KwH battery, sending the entry price into the high $60k’s.

    I’ve never seen a CLA that didn’t have Navigation and the basic packages. All the stickers I’ve seen were $38,000 or higher.

    I wouldn’t want one without AWD and Navigation.

    Guess that’s one less commercial to play.

  • avatar
    snakebit

    They could drop the price $5,000 and it would still be a CamCord with more expensive parts. Never going to be interested. Give me a pre-owned C Class sedan. MB, this model is shameful for your reputation, and no one who has followed MB even in the last 10 years will be fooled, on whole.

    • 0 avatar
      theupperonepercent

      Many people don’t understand just how important being seen in a “Mercedes”, “Acura”, “BMW” or “Audi” is to some buyers.

      …and they wouldn’t be caught dead in anything else.

      Would you take a CLA over a loaded Sonata?

      Would you take a CLA over a loaded Camry?

      Would you take a CLA over a loaded Accord?

      Would you take a CLA over a loaded Altima?

      If you answered Yes – then you are what is known as a “badgewhore”.

      • 0 avatar
        raresleeper

        Idk, I believe its all geographical.

        What’s important- or even expected- in The Hamptons may be a bit excessive in say, rural Oklahoma.

        See? It’s all geographical, kids.

        Yeah, you bought a CLA, and because there’s that three-pointed star, you fit in, for the most part. But when you get to the extreme upper crusts of the town, you’re still poor because your peers know that you (GASP) bought “the cheap one” :)

        DISCLAIMER: No “badge whores” were harmed during the making of this comment.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          By most accounts – C class buyers are labelled “cheap-class” buyers by M-B dealers. CLA buyers will have to settle for some lesser cognomen.

          I don’t know why anyone chooses to transact business with someone who insults you as they take your money.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Hmm.

        Maybe over the Altima, not being a Nissan guy.

        And over any of those if it had the AWD system, which is the weak link in the CamCordVerse’s offerings.

        But in general your point is very much correct; a really well-optioned Camry [e.g.] offers more than any CLA that can remotely compete on price.

        • 0 avatar
          theupperonepercent

          All Wheel Drive is this generation’s “luxury-must-have-feature”.

          Last generation was built-in navigation systems.

          You’ve got the Subarus, Chrysler 200, Mercedes CLA, and a few others getting it to you under $35,000k

          It’s amazing that Toyota never offered the new Camries with AWD. I’m sure if they built them they’d sell.

          I know that they don’t have to – since having the mass of the engine on the front wheels gives traction, but I’d be interested in seeing an AWD Camry and an AWD Altima since they are trusted ecoboxes and many people aren’t financially prepared to move into a Lexus or Acura.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            Toyota buyers who “need” AWD will by a more expensive SUV. No sense in Toyota giving them the option of a cheaper Camry with AWD.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            If Toyota offered AWD in the Camry, it would lose the almost flat floor for the back seat. For the part of the country south of roughly I-70, AWD is an unwanted unnecessary expense. For those customers who have to deal with deeper and more frequent snow, Toyota has a variety of CUVs and SUVs that offer AWD combined with some extra ground clearance.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Yeah, the *Fusion* has AWD.

            Why doesn’t a Camry or Accord?

            (Hell, why isn’t there an AWD ES350? If there is I managed to look right through it…)

      • 0 avatar
        dswilly

        Plenty of badge-whoring going on no doubt. But I actually think the Mercedes/BMW/Audi drive is better than those listed. Maybe not to those who don’t care or enough to justify the price, but I do think they build a better drivers car. That said I think the sweet spot is buying German slightly pre-owned with CPO warranty for many thousands less than MSRP.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          You’re onto something there, dswilly.

          Mercedes (and BMW, for that matter) all offer a distinct driving characteristics.

          That Honda might feel a little lighter, a little more tossable, whereas that Mercedes ______ just eats up the road at highway speeds.

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          The A3 and the 320i, by most accounts, aren’t too bad. I think the charge is specifically leveled on the CLA, which seems to be by a wide margin the cheapest of the bunch.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        “Would you take a CLA over a loaded Sonata (etc)?”

        In the immortal words of Car Talk, “is it fully loaded with marijuana?”
        I would take the one that drives the best and is put together the best. Having driven them, that’s definitely not the Sonata, Camry or Altima. maybe the Accord, but probably not.

        You’ve listed all the cars that I am glad to return after a week-long business rental. I would gladly take a better handling, nicely styled car that has good seats over anything on your list, even if it is slightly smaller and less “loaded.”

      • 0 avatar
        energetik9

        This argument makes the assumption that these comparisons are otherwise equals.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        …Or don’t like FWD? None of the others are available in AWD. Also, there are probably features available in the MB that aren’t available on the others. And the MB is signficantly smaller than those listed.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m no CLA fan, but there are reasons that one might chose it over the listed FWD family cars that aren’t purely due to badge.

  • avatar
    James2

    I wonder if you could even find that $29k unicorn at any MB dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      I have no doubt that if you really wanted one, it would have been possible to get a Bottom-Feeder Benz (BFB?). The catch is you would have had to jump through some major hoops to do it. For starters, it would have to be special ordered with a six-month to year wait to take delivery. Then, there almost assuredly would have been an exorbitant, non-refundable down payment required, maybe even the entire purchase price.

      With those kinds of conditions, I would imagine very, very few $29k, US-spec CLAs were ever built. From the start, it seems like it was just a marketing gimmick to get people into the showrooms, and MB really had no intention of ever building a single, strippo CLA.

      Seems like someone else (Nissan, maybe) did the same sort of shenanigans a while ago with some kind of stripper that was advertised for an unbelievably low price, yet had mandatory options that meant none were ever sold at the low price.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        You might be thinking of the Nissan Versa – the last new car in the US that had an MSRP below $10k, IIRC. I can’t verify it, but allegedly you couldn’t find one on a dealer’s lot for that price. I don’t recall what the “real” bottom-line Versa price was.

    • 0 avatar

      Sure. I’m sure that they sold five. Most cars on the lot for any German Build are “manager specials”. In BMW land, this means silver, leather, nav and premium package. Sport package and manual are going to be special order only, and most folks aren’t that patient, even tho they will build to your lease order.

      Also, while I haven’t done a CLA build your own (too busy out walking the dog), BMW has great catches, like heated seats require leather, or you can’t get certain options without other ones…so the cheap car won’t be once you add the $2500 seat heater. $500 for the heaters and $1500 for the mandatory leather option. Likewise farces like “enhanced bluetooth”, like activating AD2P which is already on most of the chips is worth another 1K. I just bought a Kinivio 450 for $45.00, which does the same thing…..

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’d be curious to know how many of these actually sold at the $29k price. I’m guessing less than 1%. One option selection alone breaks the $30k price ceiling. There are only two reasons this car sells. The price to play and the looks.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I wonder if there will be any interior improvements in exchange for the price increase.

    I’m not philosophically opposed to a small FWD-based Benz at all, but the CLA’s interior is just unworthy of the brand.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    More price increases like this ($1,600!) and they’ll soon price it out of the hands of the market they’re chasing.

    Then they’ll have to build a Premie-Benz.

  • avatar
    Occam

    Interesting. In 1992, per cars.com, the bottom rung Mercedes-Benz (190E 2.3L) had an MSRP/Invoice of $28,950/$23,160. The bottom-rung BMW (318ti) was $22,900/$18,750.

    By comparison, a Honda Accord in poverty-spec trim started at $13,300/$11,172, and topped out at $20,175/$16,947.

    In 2014 dollars (per BLS’ inflation calculator), the price of entry (assuming MSRP) to MB was 48,992, and for BMW was $38,754. The Accord would run $22,508 to $34,142.

    So much for exclusivity!

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    I am of two minds – if you want to be exclusive, you can’t do this. Even Lexus gets it.

    But… Mercedes has always been terrified of BMW, so they basically do everything that BMW does.

    And also, one could say that Acura pioneered this market with the Integra, so maybe this is just competing in that near-luxury hot-hatch/small sedan segment.

    In the end – I do think it is a bad move. But given the need for volume, the expense of the failed Chrysler experiment, etc… Their unwillingness to launch a new sub-brand (a la Scion). There aren’t many choices.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Interesting observations, but MB still caters to the exclusive crowd at the high end just by it’s exorbitant entry fees. The low end doesn’t take away from that. The same three-pointed star proudly sits on delivery trucks and Taxi-Cabs all over the world, doesn’t seem to dilute the brand one bit

      • 0 avatar
        akatsuki

        I think that is somewhat right – in the US it is a bit different since you don’t get tons of the taxicabs.

        The real issue is: are you willing to make that ownership experience amazing for a very low margin customer so they come back to you for a more expensive car? That is the real cost of going downmarket. If the CLA interior falls apart, people have lots of shop problems, the dealership treats them like crap, etc… Well, you will lose business at the top end.

        That, plus you will lose people who think MBs and BMWs are too commonplace. Pretty sure that is the only reason the Bentley Continental exists – is someone says I’ll take an inferior car because there are too many MBs around.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Well, if any car company is going to give their customers crap they’ll run the risk of losing them, but I think a customer will tolerate more crap from Mercedes then they will from Kia just because it’s Mercedes, so although it’s crap, it’s perceived to be the best crap money can buy

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          That suggests an interesting question — how many of those CLA buyers will be in the market for top-end models later in life?

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        Having a marketing slogan of “Engineered like no other car in the world” or “The best or nothing” actually doesn’t preclude having taxicabs or buses or trucks or even inexpensive cars.

        If the “luxurious” trimmings on the interior are truly luxurious, they are worth a lot of money on the Monroney sticker and the vehicles that don’t have them could sell for less money. It’s not damaging. People aren’t stupid. The best engineering is not what makes the car expensive, it’s what makes it the most durable or the best operating, the most intuitive, etc.

        The problem with the CLA isn’t the price, it’s that it doesn’t meet the standards of engineering or assembly that MB claims is representative of the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      Perhaps, but unlike M-B, Acura seemed to make a genuine effort to keep prices reasonable on the Integra and build brand loyalty (at least until they dumped the RSX). My ’93 Integra LS 2dr went out the door for about $13,500 nicely equipped (about $22k today). Nine years later, even at sticker my ’02 RSX Type S was only $23,170, about $31k today, but for comparison that was top engine and trim, fully loaded. Additionally, it’s still runs like a Swiss watch and I’m astounded by even the lowball trade-in/resale estimates.

      That said, I can’t imagine most of the folks driving these are really chasing value. Another 5% on a monthly lease is just one less liquid brunch or trip to the doggie spa.

      • 0 avatar
        akatsuki

        I’d suggest Acura keeps their prices low because they have been on a long-term campaign to destroy all their brand equity and nobody in their right mind would pay $100K for an Acura luxury sedan right now. And the worst part is as they sink further and further they keep doubling down on their crap strategies.

        I assume it is because of ego..

        • 0 avatar
          sproc

          I generally agree with you. Like I said, I think Acura had a good plan until they dumped the RSX in MY06 and turned the TSX into a bloated technobarge. After that, they absolutely were a disaster.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “And also, one could say that Acura pioneered this market with the Integra, so maybe this is just competing in that near-luxury hot-hatch/small sedan segment.”

      I always wonder if Acura, with things like the Integra and 2.3T in the RDX, is way ahead or way behind. Either way, it’s out of sync with the market, but some moves that look dumb at the time sure are copied down the road.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I’d sort of consider myself in the target demographic (young professional), and actually have a friend who bought one, a high zoot turbo/AWD model at that. He’s a hardcore car guy so it caught me off guard. I’m sure he’d claim it was all about the performance specs, but I can guarantee part of the purchase was that three pointed star. These CLAs fit very well with this whole faux-luxury thing I keep noticing more and more in my environment. Trendy loft apartments in trendy revitalized downtown areas being rented for insane amounts, trendy restaurants charging way too much for way too little food, all these microbreweries out snobbing each other. The CLA is like the automotive embodiment of all this. Flashy and luxurious looking, but no real substance. Like my apartment with granite countertops but bad window insulation (the building is only 3 years old!).

    • 0 avatar
      rodface

      You’re right on the money. We try to avoid all of that “fauxury”. Passing on a fancy apartments saves us a cool $1000/month, and we don’t mind the white appliances, formica countertops, and equally poorly-insulated windows! :)

  • avatar
    Steinweg

    “Critical psychological threshold”?

    That’s going a bit far. The only psychological threshold at work here is the one between “I want quality” and “I want X brand.” Once you cross that threshold, a few thousand dollars is nothing.

    One of these has finally been purchased in our community (AMG version, mind) and wouldn’t you know, it’s a spoiled inherited-money brat.

  • avatar
    scott25

    Still by far the ugliest car on sale today, and you can’t drive one and not look like a douchebag, especially now you’re paying even more to drive a car that’s too long, too narrow, almost as overstyled as the Lexus IS, has taillights way too large, and from what I’ve read has an interior not up to snuff for a Mercedes. But that giant grille and the badge is all that matters. The GLA is much better looking but even more overpriced. But then again I make no secret of my dislike for luxury cars in general, the only Mercedes I’m really a fan of is the C111.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    I resisted the urge a few months back to go check out a super clean 1990 Mercedes 420SEL for sale semi-locally. original car with 127k miles and a full maintenance record, for $4500. The difference between that car and these CLAs is epic in terms of on road presence, let alone build quality. And the $25k you’d pocket with that w126 would pay for a hell of a lot of repairs and gas.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Not relevant to CLA but it looks like Mercedes hit the vehicle lineup for Jurrasic World 2015.

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