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From a volume point of view, the extended compact car family will become our biggest model line," said Joachim Schmidt, sales and marketing chief for Mercedes. "And the family will expand further in the next generation."

The small-car push is based on a new front-wheel drive design that will serve as the basis for at least five models, including the CLA and the new SUV. The CLA is the first of those to have a trunk instead of a hatchback, key in attracting drivers in the U.S. and China, where sedans are more popular.

The styling highlights design chief Gorden Wagener's effort to give the brand an edgier look. The shift to smaller cars is reminiscent of the Baby Benz in the 1980s. The C class, the successor to the 190, is now the brand's best-selling line worldwide.

Youthful sportiness

"Mercedes is thoroughly changing," said Thomas Schiller, an automotive partner at consulting firm Deloitte in Munich. "Mercedes used to be the pinnacle of comfort and elegance, and it's more and more moving toward sportiness and a youthful and modern design."

Mercedes is undercutting BMW and Audi with the CLA in the Unietd States. The car's starting price at $29,900 for a 211-horsepower model compares with $32,550 for a 180-horsepower BMW 3 series and $32,500 for Audi's 211-horsepower A4.

Audi will counter Mercedes with a 25,000-euro sedan version of its A3 compact, which will debut at the Shanghai auto show on April 21. The new Audi will be equipped with a 140-horsepower gasoline engine that can accelerate the car to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in 8.4 seconds.

Collision radar

Boosted by growth in compacts as well as an updated E-class and a new generation of its S-class flagship, Mercedes sales could rise by 7 percent to 1.45 million vehicles this year, researcher IHS Automotive estimates. The gain of 92,700 deliveries would outpace BMW's 56,500-car increase as Audi's sales sink slightly. The CLA will add almost 36,000 vehicles to sales, IHS predicts.

AMG, Mercedes's high-performance unit, will offer a version of the CLA boasting a 360-horsepower turbocharged engine that speeds it to 100 kph in as little as 4.6 seconds.

Yet Mercedes hasn't abandoned its traditional emphasis on safety, offering options like a radar-based collision prevention system.

"The new models offer Mercedes the opportunity to peel away customers from BMW and Audi and to regain lost ground," said Thilo Mueller, managing director of MB Fund Advisory.

His investment firm in Limburg, Germany, counts Daimler shares as the second-biggest holding of the 110 million euros ($144 million) it manages. "But Daimler is still acting lethargically compared to the dynamism at Audi and BMW. I wish they'd pick things up a bit," he said.
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Mercedes has been beaten up by its German competitors, namely BMW and Audi, the past few years.
Audi is eating Mercedes and BMW's lunch the past few years.
MB is fighting back by improving the quality of their cars and giving more standard features at a lower price.
Yes, MB is starting a price war. And a reasonably smart move. Why sell a CLA at $32500 with a 10% discount when you can sell it @ $30000 at full price ?
Make you look like a bargain at the same time getting you more per car. My guess is the dealer will have even less mark up to discount from.
My 2001 S430 has a MSRP of $83,000. A 2013 S400 is at almost the same price. Difference is the dealers' cost / margin on the car has dramatically changed.
I got an easy $10000 discount but the S400 today could hardly have $3000 to give you without factory help.
 

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0-62 in 8.4 for the upcoming A3 sedan? That's downright laughable.
That's to compete with the CLA180 & 200 both have similar performance.
That's 1969 Dino 206 (Ferrari) performance.
That's 1970 Porsche 911E performance.
That's 1968 Sunbeam Tiger 260 V8 performance.
That's 1977 Corvette performance
In 1987, 0-60 Ferrari Testarossa V12 5.7 sec; Porsche 930 Turbo 5.5 sec; Porsche 928S4 5.7sec; 911 Carrera 5.9 sec; 944 Turbo 5.9 sec; Audi Turbo Quatro 6.6sec; Mercedes 560SEC 8.0 sec; Volvo 780 V6 11.0 sec.
That's how it was...
 

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Competition is good for the customer. I've got no loyalty and will go with the one that provides the best bang for my buck.
 

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Competition is good for the customer. I've got no loyalty and will go with the one that provides the best bang for my buck.
Well said. The CLA250 will serve well as a gateway-car for Mercedes-Benz in that it'll get peeps like me in their showroom & taking notice of their other models. And that's a big thing since I wouldn't otherwise look into other Benz offerings. Even when I went to chit-chat about the CLA w/ the dealer, I noted the SLK which was something I'd never give a second look to in the past.

In changing times in a changing world, Mercedes-Benz was rather astute with their approach to the CLA in the North American market.
 

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That's to compete with the CLA180 & 200 both have similar performance.
That's 1969 Dino 206 (Ferrari) performance.
That's 1970 Porsche 911E performance.
That's 1968 Sunbeam Tiger 260 V8 performance.
That's 1977 Corvette performance
In 1987, 0-60 Ferrari Testarossa V12 5.7 sec; Porsche 930 Turbo 5.5 sec; Porsche 928S4 5.7sec; 911 Carrera 5.9 sec; 944 Turbo 5.9 sec; Audi Turbo Quatro 6.6sec; Mercedes 560SEC 8.0 sec; Volvo 780 V6 11.0 sec.
That's how it was...
Yeah but from a US standpoint, the A3 (my 2014) will compete with the 250. I don't know what 25,000 euro equates to, but it better be substantially less than $29,900 because those acceleration numbers from the A3 are abysmal. A regular Ford Focus costing $17,000 posts similar numbers.
 

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Yeah but from a US standpoint, the A3 (my 2014) will compete with the 250. I don't know what 25,000 euro equates to, but it better be substantially less than $29,900 because those acceleration numbers from the A3 are abysmal. A regular Ford Focus costing $17,000 posts similar numbers.
1 Euro = approx. 1.3 USD. So 25000 Euro is 32500 USD.
US spec A3 should be similar to US spec GTI - 0-60 in the mid to high 6s.
 
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