QOTD: Which Niche Survives at Mercedes-Benz?

As cost-cutting born partly of stricter environmental mandates take hold across the industry, low-volume specialty cars and less-popular body styles are getting a rethink. Model lines are being consolidated or dropped, leaving the consumer with less choice than before.

At Mercedes-Benz, which currently fields a dizzying array of vehicles spanning the gamut (minus the pickup segment), the future holds less selection for the consumer who likes to go his or her own way. Bound for the chopping block are the stately S-Class coupe and convertible, and two four-doors also look to be on the way out.

We’ve arrived at a Sophie’s Choice moment.

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TTAC Product Planning Advice: The Kia Stonic and Soul Edition

It seems so obvious as to be unmistakable. You’ve been selling an unexpectedly successful Kia Soul for nearly a decade, turning it from what was thought to be a niche-market idea into one of your most popular products.

Do that again.

Hence, here cometh the Kia Stonic. It’s not bound for America, at least not yet, but the Stonic serves elsewhere as the Kia version of the Hyundai Kona. Only unlike the Kona, the Stonic is — like the Soul — a front-wheel-drive subcompact-based “utility vehicle.”

Cargo volume? Virtually identical, at 12.4 cubic feet for the Stonic and 12.5 cubic feet for the Soul. Pricing? In the United Kingdom, the Soul stretches from £14,310 to £23,565, starting slightly below the Stonic’s £16,295 entry point and rising above the Stonic’s top-spec £20,495 price.

This overlap in price, mission, and size is exactly what the doctor ordered, so we have a few vital recommendations for Kia’s rivals.

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Mercedes-Benz's Smallest Droptop Ready for a Date With Death: Report

Remember when the boxy little Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster bowed with its innovative retractable hardtop back in 1997? The model provided Germanophiles with an alternative to the BMW Z3 and gave the brand a healthy injection of youthful, downmarket sportiness.

Well, the recently refreshed two-seater — which adopted the SLC moniker for 2017 — seems to be running on a combination of gasoline and borrowed time.

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  • Jwee You can avoid American cities, and both you and the Americans would be happier.
  • Bryan I used Costco a while back, and didn't care for it - you still wind up going to the dealership.The last time I bought a new car I used an actual car broker and I'll use one again the next time. Whatever they charged me was the best money I spent that year.
  • SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
  • SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
  • SCE to AUX Maybe those union dues will help soften the landing. Employment there used to be 4000 people, and the plant has been at risk for 15 years. Stellantis did recently say that it would be trimming dead wood so it could rebuild the company. The Cherokee is finished, but I bet the plant reopens with a smaller workforce once Stellantis figures out what to do with it.