By on August 28, 2019

With the Mercedes-Benz A-Class now available in North America, the CLA Coupe (a sedan) is no longer the automaker’s most affordable offering. Part of that stems from the manufacturer need to keep some financial distance between the two. The A-Class is Daimler’s new gateway drug, leading younger buyers down the perilous road of purchasing GLEs and E-Class wagons. It’s best to let the CLA give the smaller sedan some economic breathing room. However, that was never really an issue, as CLA pricing has been running away with itself for years.

According to order forms intercepted by CarsDirect, the 2020 CLA250 will start at $37,645 (including a $995 destination charge). That makes it $3,550 dearer than the 2019 model year and $7,745 more than when the first CLA appeared in 2014. 

Before you proclaim Mercedes a ruined brand in the comments, it’s worth examining how and why the brand is repositioning the CLA. That $3,550 price increase helps separate the 2020 model year from the A-Class’ $33,795 MSRP. Currently, there’s only a few hundred bucks separating the two — which isn’t ideal when the whole point of both vehicles is to reel in first-time buyers.

The pair are also extremely similar in both form and function. Without badging, we imagine most people would have no clue which was which. However, the 2020 CLA has been sized up in almost every dimension to help distinguish itself. Roughly two inches longer and wider than its predecessor, the new 4-door “coupe” stretches to 184.6 inches with 72.0 inches of girth. Meanwhile, the A-Class Sedan is 179.1 inches long and 70.7 inches wide.

The CLA250 also has a beefier, turbocharged 2.0-liter engine paired to a seven-speed DTC that’s capable of 33 more horses than the A220’s four-banger. That brings the front-wheel drive (AWD is optional) CLA up to 221 horsepower. Mercedes has also confirmed the 382-hp AMG CLA 45 (pictured above) for North America.

Daimler has similarly improved its technical prowess after leaving it more or less untouched since its debut. The 2020 CLA is decidedly modern, offering all the digital trappings you’d find on the A-Class — including big, customizable displays — with a bit more elbow room. Unfortunately, a lot of those inclusions are isolated behind a paywall. For example, if you want the Driver Assistance Package, you have to tack on other packages to get it. Ultimately, that means tacking on thousands more. As CarsDirect notes, adding those assistance features would instantly push the CLA beyond $42,000 by incorporating the Premium and Multimedia Packages. However, that’s not really uncharacteristic of Mercedes or most other premium nameplates.

Ultimately, the 2020 CLA appears head and shoulders better than the model it replaces, though it’s unclear if the price hike is truly warranted. The A-Class offers most of what you’ll find in the larger model while boasting a similar exterior and nearly identical cabin for less money.

Framed that way, it might be best to keep looking at the CLA as a bargain alternative to the rear-drive C-Class, which starts at $41,400 before destination. Perhaps with the cheaper sedan’s improvements, which include polished the ride quality and improved handling, it’ll be a contender. We’ll give it a full assessment when production models begin circulating later this year.

[Images: Daimler]

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67 Comments on “The Mercedes-Benz CLA Sure Is Getting Expensive...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Anyone know if they’re building this one in a Nissan plant in Mexico as well?

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      The third plant on the Aguascalientes site cost $2 billion, and is jointly owned by Mercedes and Nissan 50/50. Nissan were going to build those QX30 things with Mercedes architecture underneath in their half of the building, but that was canceled as of two years ago. Mercedes are making the new A class in their half of the factory and from what I read a couple of weeks ago are negotiating to take over Nissan’s half. Because Mercedes’ sell and who wants a QX50 anyway? Nissan’s fortunes with Mercedes haven’t exactly turned out well.

  • avatar

    Not fond of the newer Mercedes design language. Upright falling forward grille attached to a melted blob of a body with a droopy ass. Meh.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Let the brand snobs pay. That is what the brand is all about.

    The rest of us will buy better cars for less money.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The irony is thick.

    “”Not only is the CLA the worst performing Mercedes in the survey,” deputy auto editor Jon Linkov told Business Insider. “The CLA is also actually 140% worse than the average car.””

    “Consumer Reports ratings show the CLA suffers from a raft of problems, ranging from engine and audio issues to glitches with the things like the power windows.

    CR also reports numerous squeaks and rattles, which the publication defines as “body integrity” issues.”

    and my favorite

    “”It’s small, cramped, and with a front-wheel drive chassis is also missing some Mercedes-Benz DNA.””

    https://www.businessinsider.com/consumer-reports-mercedes-benz-cla-worst-car-in-lineup-2014-10

    So we’re taking our cheap POS and increasing the price 18.9%, because… eat me we can. Then we’re going to introduce what is likely an even bigger disappointment underneath it because you proles are stupid enough to pony up what really is a lot of money for this crap (US median income $46,8 for 2019).

    I always enjoyed a Benz but I mock the CLA and its ilk at every opportunity because like it or not the US market unlike Europe was only populated by the more serious Mercedes models for decades (yes I know the 190s and the Diesels were pitiful in their time but they were built like tanks). I know we don’t have “its just a taxi” branding because there we’rent many E-classes running around as such unlike Europe, but here Mercedes was truly aspirational, all of them. Diluting your image in what is still a large car market isn’t wise IMO.

    Oh and that cockpit shot literally looks like a game at Dave and Busters I used to play, wasn’t “pole position” but it was something to that effect. Way to go with the Mattel dash too.

    • 0 avatar
      ABC-2000

      I will tell you this, my friend leased a 2015 C class and now a 2018 C class, both with endless problems, the 2015 spent a whole month at the Manhattan dealer with an electric problem they could not solve.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Sounds like an X-type. Something about these premium euro brands trying to do models on the cheap.

      • 0 avatar
        1500cc

        @ABC-2000

        This is why M-B doesn’t seem to care about eroding quality or diluting their brand … people will still come back and buy them no matter how poor their experience. Logic would dictate that it will eventually catch up with them, but there’s an almost endless pool of suckers out there.

      • 0 avatar

        My one data point (and I’m sure someone bought a bulletproof Vega, somewhere) is 17k on my C43, and save for my dislike of the runflats, no issues…everything works as intended, and the AMG cars get all the options, pretty much. The adjustable suspension is brilliant.

        I got a c300 loaner recently, and it was…sparse. The chassis was still solid but the 4 banger was lacking at this price point…nav was an extra cost option and they shorted the passenger an adjustable thigh support. The tiny dash screen was clearly designed to get you to pay to upgrade to the better radio.

        The CLA ? I can’t imagine wanting the star badly enough to buy that…

    • 0 avatar
      loner

      Outrun?

      https://medium.com/@gwobcke/outrun-a-1986-arcade-game-by-am2-sega-a2485a709cf7

    • 0 avatar
      Serpens

      Literally everything you posted was about the first generation, not that one. The reviews have been universally better for this generation.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I would hope things improve in five years of production, but it doesn’t mean the CLA is truly up to a Mercedes standard which was the point of the final remark I highlighted.

    • 0 avatar
      Serpens

      Literally everything you posted was about the first generation, not that one. The reviews have been universally better for this generation.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      All your references describe the old model. Do you really think we’re all that stupid, or is it just you?

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Considering Mercedes-Benz has been making cars longer than anyone else, the idea that the junk they’ve built in recent years is a fluke and that they could turn it around in a generation without any incentive from the their completely undiscerning customers is a stupid idea.

        • 0 avatar
          Serpens

          Their incentive is the competition, which showed the 1st generation CLA’s faults very clearly. They have done far better with the MFA II platform and the cars themselves.

          But go ahead, stick your head in the ground.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            My experiences with recent substandard Mercedes-Benz products have been with a 2015 E350 4-matic and a 2016 C300. I was incredibly unimpressed by a GLC300 loaner. I also ran a shop through November of 2018 with a factory-trained Mercedes-Benz technician. When you say that their incentive is the competition, exactly who else is selling cars with three-pointed stars on them?

          • 0 avatar
            Serpens

            FreedMike, thank you for confirming that you’re looking at this in a vacuum. What you described can also be written about the 3-series and A4. That’s what this much money gets you these days.

        • 0 avatar
          Serpens

          Glad you left very vague comments about being “incredibly unimpressed” by a vehicle that has been lauded by critics.

          What is so hard to understand about the incentive being the competition? MB consumers aren’t so brand loyal that they ignore very similar offerings from Audi and BMW and others. If their products were as crappy as you’re letting on their sales would falter and they wold adjust as needed. That’s kind of how selling things in a competitive market works.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Todd’s on target – I wasn’t overly impressed with the C300 I drove either. You’re looking for details, so OK…

            Great interior styling, but everything you touch feels a lot less “luxe” than it looks. Infotainment was a bit fussy. Nice ride, but the steering was heavy (typical Mercedes), and the four-banger got the job done but sounded clattery and cheap. The performance issues get solved with bigger-engine models, but those are silly expensive.

            C-class sells based on the shine from the S-class sitting next to it on the showroom floor, if you ask me.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I spent far more time in the (2014 model, incorrectly typed 2015 above)E350, which was not a nice enough car to merit that it was no longer reliable with less than 30,000 miles in 2017. The dealer’s response was pretty much that it was time to make the car someone else’s problem by getting a new one.

            The C300 was a customer’s car. It came in exhibiting electrical problems that Lucas never dreamed of. Our MB tech overheard the customer and said, “it’s the CAN-BUS system.” He’d seen enough of them to know what happens to Mercedes-Benz cars in central Virginia is that their sunroof drains clog with pollen and pine needles and then they leak.

            With Subarus, we’d see it a few times a week. Blowing out the drains, drying the mats and carpets, and then running an ozone machine generally resolved the issue. In a Mercedes-Benz, the moisture corrodes the no-quality pin connectors in their body computer network connectors. Instead of an irritation, recent Mercedes-Benz drivers get to pay thousands in labor to have their car interiors removed and dozens of silly little pins replaced because of the awful design, construction and materials that Mercedes-Benz uses. It’s not considered a warranty issue when your sunroof leaks, which is common to every brand, but I’ve seen no other cars that are as frail electrically.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            You could just clean out the drains BEFORE they clog up and cause a problem.

        • 0 avatar
          Serpens

          Ok Todd, so you went on to talk about a last generation E-class and a random customer car. Great, we could all pick stories using that framing. As far as your sunroof comment is concerned, you can literally google “sunroof drain clogged electrical issues” and get results from Lexus, Dodge, and BMW. This doesn’t excuse MB, but let’s get real. It’s not a just MB issue and still doesn’t explain why you weren’t impressed about the GLC, which is widely considered to be among the class leaders.

          If you just don’t like them that’s cool.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think you’re missing the whole point of the cited comments, let me try to explain this in larger terms.

        Humanity can essentially be measured on a Bell Curve, and depending on which percentile a person is in a certain area largely determines their world view. From the automotive sales standpoint, Mercedes-Benz in North America has historically targeted the 90% income percentile and up for sales while the remains of the top quartile are realistically the CPO target and the other three income quartiles are generally out of the sales equation but may not only aspire to the brand but probably will acquire very used models long into their life as status symbols. We see this with many other luxury products as well, so its nothing new.

        Mercedes’ main customer base has changed little over the years even as the end product quality has gone up and down in about the past twenty, but with a product like CLA Mercedes is attempting to capture a whole new market in the US for it’s new products. Some traditional buyers may find it appealing I don’t know, but a traditional buyer who has experienced a true Mercedes would only need to spend a limited amount of time in the first CLA to realize it was not up to par. The 50-75% income quartile who has no previous exposure to a new Mercedes designed and built for the 90% percent price point does not understand nor probably cares about Mercedes heritage or Mercedes built quality, they simply have no point of reference. Daimler knows this and is using its economies of scale to build a cheaper product at a certain price point for a market it can con. Buyers who actually understand what a Mercedes is so to speak see right through the con job. This is the point of the cited comment, this product is lacking a certain amount of Mercedes DNA because from the start it wasn’t designed or intended to be a Mercedes on par with what the company sold previously in North America.

        All three major German marques are in on this game now, and while I am not as familiar with the rival offerings from BMW and Audi, all three are diluting their branding in order to sell/lease product at a cheaper price point to the lower income quartile. Perhaps BMW and Audi did a much better job? I’m not sure. I do know much like Jaguar failed with the X-type, the CLA as introduced was not up to any kind of Mercedes standard for N.A. product and the so called critics agreed. I hope after several years of sales the engineering teams corrected most of the defects with the product, but this isn’t to say the product is still up to the level it’s supposed to be as a Mercedes.

        “MB consumers aren’t so brand loyal that they ignore very similar offerings from Audi and BMW and others.”

        Buyers north of the 90% income percentile tend not to be loyal to any brand, they literally have the income to choose virtually anything they want and eat any depreciation without care. These are the people who buy things like the S-class, 7-series, XJ etc. because they will have discarded it quickly and never see most of the serious problems we know these models tend to encounter.

        The point of the dilution exercise is to target those in the lower quartiles on leasing schemes and turn them into regular customers, but ultimately they are being hoodwinked by marketeers and without any understanding of a better quality product they are willfully ignorant.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Mercedes makes great high-priced stuff, but the entry-level offerings are, to put it politely, less than inspiring. I don’t see much reason to buy an A-class over something like a top-spec Mazda3 with AWD.

  • avatar
    probert

    Probably their best looking car. Not sure why anyone buys these things, but you might as well get the best looking one.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    And so the gradual march of the transverse-engine economy platform up the price ladder begins. In another generation or two, as *UVs continue their proliferation, this CLA’s successor is going to be branded C-Class, and the cheapest proper Mercedes sedan will be the E300 equivalent. You heard it here first.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I don’t want this to be true, but I fear it is…

      • 0 avatar
        Featherston

        +2, dal and 28. Isn’t this essentially what BMW has done with the X1?

        What makes things worse is that FWD’s packaging advantage has gone by the wayside because of the “need” for consoles and available AWD.

        Here’s good fodder for discussion: What’s the most premium transverse FWD (or FWD/AWD) ever made? There definitely have been some appealing longitudinal FWDs: Cords, Citroëns, Lancia Fulvias, the ’67-70 Eldorado, Saabs, and (no, seriously, a friend had one) the 300M.

        I would guess the answer is whatever Acura’s or Lexus’ best transverse effort was. Maybe an early Legend or a ’90s ES? I also like some of the transverse Saabs, even if purists moan about them. And some domestics that probably were better than they generally get credit for: Sajeev’s Continental and various Cadillacs that had the 4.6 and 4.9. (I’m partial to the “designed for the Northstar but initially got the holdover 4.9” ’92-’93 Sevilles and Eldorados.)

    • 0 avatar
      Serpens

      No, but you could see the C-class continue upmarket in lockstep.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I don’t think Mercedes needs seven sedans (A, CLA, C, E, CLS, S, GT4). I think they’ll eventually rationalize to five, with CLS and GT4 melting together, and CLA taking over the C’s spot (whether or not it gets the C badge).

        I don’t think there is much of an advantage for the maker in keeping the C on a more expensive platform, especially if they are able to pull off some of the same styling magic as recent Volvo and (apparently) forthcoming Acura, and give the FWD platform more RWD-like proportions in front.

        • 0 avatar
          Serpens

          I could see the CLS leaving, not the CLA taking the C’s spot. The swoopy sedan styling and compromised back seat is not a good fit for the class that the C-class plays in.

          You also have to take into account models like the AMG C63; no FWD platform is going to be able to compete with the M3/M4. And before you mention Audi, remember they have longitudinal engines for the A4 and up so they’re set up differently.

          The advantage of the C-class staying on its current platform is the ability to sell models in the $60k+ arena which is pure profit.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I’m sure any A derivative that replaces the C will have more room than the current CLA.

            I expect they’ll compete with the M4 with an AMG E coupe, and won’t bother to compete with the M3 except around the edges (on the low end with a transverse C45 and the high end with the E53 and E63).

        • 0 avatar
          Serpens

          Yet the E-coupe is the one that’s in danger of being sliced by the MB board. Also ever wondered why we still don’t have an E63 coupe or convertible? The C63 has a huge fan following. Turning their best selling AMG car into a FWD machine would be ill advised.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “the 2020 CLA250 will start at $37,645”

    I’m guessing it will be a big improvement over the prior version and it will be fine when reviewed in isolation, but that’s a pretty spicy meatball for a no-option 221hp FWD compact car.

  • avatar
    raynla

    How can Mercedes justify building this when the Tesla Model 3 exists?

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I want to apologize to Cadillac for mocking that old Buick LeSabre gauge cluster they had in their cars for years. It’s a model of beauty and simplicity compared to the abominations that Mercedes is putting out these days.

    So I get in my new CLA and am faced with two horizontally oriented LCD screens positioned right next to each other. Thanks, Mercedes, now I feel like I’m back at the office.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      At least there is probably no way to get them to display TPS reports.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        Of course, it all makes sense now. They’re just preparing us with these screens. Once self-driving cars are ready for prime time, there’s no reason our commutes can’t be co-opted into extra working hours. Even Lexus is in on it, using a mouse for the infotainment system.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    As someone who recently experienced the new A-Klasse (A200) and was impressed, I can guarantee that the new CLA is worth the money. Forget everything you know about the original CLA. This is a completely new vehicle which was improved in all areas. A-Klasse and CLA are similar from a technology viewpoint and also inside; a high quality cabin with materials that feel and look nice. Having seen the car in person, and having sat inside it, I can attest that it is also spacious inside (in front), unlike the original CLA.

    As I said, I have seen the new CLA in the flesh and it is a very striking design, particularly if the buyer ticked the option for the AMG kit. As a family car it only makes sense for a young couple with small children, but for a young professional who wants a visually striking and also engaging car (I found the A200 to be a lot of fun to drive despite front wheel drive) a long with the excellent MBXU system, this car can be very desireable. The MBXU system is practical and accurate, I truly enjoyed using it on the A200 and it is a loss when you drive a car which does not have such a system.

    Regarding the argument A-Klasse sedan vs CLA, the idea seems to be that the CLA drives better than the A-Klasse sedan, it is tuned for a sportier experience. This is what the Mercedes-Benz marketing literature mentions.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ll take your word on how good the A-class is to drive (and a review on this site from a couple weeks ago confirms as much). But the problem is pricing – basically, what you have here is a good-driving FWD-based compact sedan with about 190 hp and AWD, and a nice, teched-up interior, that’s made in Mexico. I can think of another sedan that fits that exact same description – a top-spec Mazda3, which costs anywhere from $15-20,000 less than the Mercedes (and probably doesn’t cost you five hundred bucks to bring in for service, either).

      Entry-level stuff from BMW and Audi will be similarly overpriced, but if you spec out a 2-series or A3 right, either will be FAR quicker than an A-class.

      And…once again…all this for a car that’s made in Mexico, at a Nissan plant.

      The pricing here is silly.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        @Mike,

        Interesting information. But is a Mazda 3 even cross-shopped with a CLA? It seems odd to me to compare a so-called mainstreamer with an entry-level premium vehicle. From my point of view the Mazda 3 is a value-for-money product and attracts buyers who are not interested in a CLA. Value-for-money is a selling point of the Mazda 3 and other cars in this niche. The CLA will attract a different sort of crowd who know that they have to pay more money in the first place.

        Some people will also buy cars based on how these cars feel and drive. For example I am an Audi man, but I am driving a (used) 2007 Mercedes-Benz GL320 CDI 4Matic. The reason is that I did not like the way the Audi Q7 of that era drove. I felt that the GL320 CDI offered me a sportier and more composed ride and sharper steering feedback and the interior ergonomics were more logical. A new GL320 CDI 4Matic would have been more expensive than the Q7 3.0 TDI, but I would have gladly paid more for the GL320 CDI because to me it was the better car. And I am saying this as an Audi man. :)

        From my perspective, the new series of small Mercedes-Benz cars are actually ‘good value-for-money’ in the entry level premium class. The new A-Klasse feels incredibly well put together and premium, more than the somewhat lackluster old model on which the original CLA was also based. And then there is MBXU which is a very good feature. Does the Mazda 3 have something similar?

        I do not think the new CLA will have trouble selling. If I were a young man again and childless and had a girlfriend/wife, I could actually see myself driving such a car. But I am into big SUVs, so this car is not for me. On the other hand, I could see my two teenage sons driving such a car. What I am saying is that I think plenty of well-off younger buyers are going to be attracted to this car. It looks very sharp and polarizing (in person), it has a nice interior which feels good and more importantly it is loaded with technology that is not even available in the S-Klasse or AMG GT.

        Luckily, this technology is available in the new GLS full-size SUV. That is the Daimler product I am interested in once they’re available on the used car market.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          It’s not that people actually will cross-shop the two cars – it’s that you *can* actually cross-shop a Mercedes with a Mazda. Everything else in the Mercedes lineup lines up with something from another luxury brand.

          If I were Mazda, I’d stuff the 2.5 turbo from the 6 in the 3, load it up with every option possible, sell it for $35,000, and actively market it against the A-class and A3. It’s not a huge market, but they’d pick up sales.

          • 0 avatar
            ThomasSchiffer

            @Mike,

            Informative points.

            However, there are also buyers in the market that WANT a Mercedes-Benz and are prepared to pay the prices. While I am an Audi man at heart, I do see the allure of the new CLA. I have sat in it and the interior feel and materials are excellent, the cabin is well-made and it is surprisingly spacious, something the last CLA never was.

            It all comes down to what the buyer wants. As long as they are happy with their purchase that is really all that matters.

  • avatar

    Maybe I’m just old, but the pricing for these roller skates is just dumb. For a trimmed out CLA of base C class, you could have a Hemi powered Chrysler 300C.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      So, you’re recommending skipping this brand-new model, with likely average reliability, for a car that’s essentially unchanged for 15 years (!) and yet inexplicably still has the worst reliability of any brand sold? Duly noted!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      But then you would be driving a Chrysler 300.

      I have a Hemi-300 as my rental this week. Not my idea of a good time at all, but it IS amusing for a week. It’s in that dark non-metallic battleship gray color with the black everything trim and wheels. I feel very gangsta driving it.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      TBH if I were forced to buy a sedan in this price range I’d much rather have an Acura TLX SH-AWD than either of the above.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I’d buy a Kia before I’d buy one of these. The CLA is an overpriced piece of crap.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    The CLA to Mercedes would be like Ford selling a Focus sized F-150.

    I doubt many MB customers are buying this crap. It’s the posers who are leasing them. Get the posers to pay more every month while depreciation for this sh*tbox continues to increase.

    Win-win.

    Posers get their glowing Merc star lighting package, Merc gets more of their money and anyone desperate enough to buy one used can keep picking them up for 1/2 off the bloated sticker price.

    • 0 avatar
      ThomasSchiffer

      Or younger, sportier buyers are buying these cars. Your old-school and old-money Mercedes-Benz buyer won’t be interested in these, but maybe their kids will.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And their widows. In my area, the little Benz is driven almost exclusively by “ladies of a certain age” who lunch. My 72yo mother would KILL for one, if she could afford it.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Ford sold the little Ranger for eons, and presumably made a boat-load of money doing it.

      I really don’t see how this is overpriced. The old one, yeah, it really wasn’t enough nicer than a top-spec Jetta. This new one is a different ballgame.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Curious what the balance between retail lessees (very few buyers) and fleet sales is. The vast majority of CLAs I see in day-to-day life are Car2Go cars. Although I expect the next batch of them will be A-classes.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I think you’re missing the whole point of the cited comments, let me try to explain this in larger terms.

    Humanity can essentially be measured on a Bell Curve, and depending on which percentile a person is in a certain area largely determines their world view. From the automotive sales standpoint, Mercedes-Benz in North America has historically targeted the 90% income percentile and up for sales while the remains of the top quartile are realistically the CPO target and the other three income quartiles are generally out of the sales equation but may not only aspire to the brand but probably will acquire very used models long into their life as status symbols. We see this with many other luxury products as well, so its nothing new.

    Mercedes’ main customer base has changed little over the years even as the end product quality has gone up and down in about the past twenty, but with a product like CLA Mercedes is attempting to capture a whole new market in the US for it’s new products. Some traditional buyers may find it appealing I don’t know, but a traditional buyer who has experienced a true Mercedes would only need to spend a limited amount of time in the first CLA to realize it was not up to par. The 50-75% income quartile who has no previous exposure to a new Mercedes designed and built for the 90% percent price point does not understand nor probably cares about Mercedes heritage or Mercedes built quality, they simply have no point of reference. Daimler knows this and is using its economies of scale to build a cheaper product at a certain price point for a market it can con. Buyers who actually understand what a Mercedes is so to speak see right through the con job. This is the point of the cited comment, this product is lacking a certain amount of Mercedes DNA because from the start it wasn’t designed or intended to be a Mercedes on par with what the company sold previously in North America.

    All three major German marques are in on this game now, and while I am not as familiar with the rival offerings from BMW and Audi, all three are diluting their branding in order to sell/lease product at a cheaper price point to the lower income quartile. Perhaps BMW and Audi did a much better job? I’m not sure. I do know much like Jaguar failed with the X-type, the CLA as introduced was not up to any kind of Mercedes standard for N.A. product and the so called critics agreed. I hope after several years of sales the engineering teams corrected most of the defects with the product, but this isn’t to say the product is still up to the level it’s supposed to be as a Mercedes.

    “MB consumers aren’t so brand loyal that they ignore very similar offerings from Audi and BMW and others.”

    Buyers north of the 90% income percentile tend not to be loyal to any brand, they literally have the income to choose virtually anything they want and eat any depreciation without care. These are the people who buy things like the S-class, 7-series, XJ etc. because they will have discarded it quickly and never see most of the serious problems we know these models tend to encounter.

    The point of the dilution exercise is to target those in the lower quartiles on leasing schemes and turn them into regular customers, but ultimately they are being hoodwinked by marketeers and without any understanding of a better quality product they are willfully ignorant.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bell_Curve


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