BBC takes a bite out of the CLA - Mercedes CLA Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 01:20 AM Thread Starter
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BBC takes a bite out of the CLA

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post #2 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 01:10 PM
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So when the three-pointed star – that talisman for all that is powerfully, luxuriously, stoutly German – is mentioned by executives in the same breath as Honda and Ford, toxicologists swab the Riesling glasses for trace psychedelics.
The disruptive force in the starry firmament is called “CLA”, and it redefines what a Mercedes-Benz can be and who can afford to drive one.
Thats quite the opening if I may say...

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the sedan is Mercedes’ special envoy to that young, entrepreneurial consumer bloc commonly called Generation Y. As such, the CLA is a life insurance policy for Mercedes
Yes yes, we knew this. Average age of Mercedes clients is 52 years old....

Quote:
But the CLA’s other target is someone who might otherwise purchase a generously equipped Honda Accord or Ford Fusion – and who is older. “If we come in at 41, we’d be thrilled,” says Mercedes-Benz USA chief executive Steve Cannon, referencing a highly sought-after age for average buyers. “And at this price, now you’re talking about someone who might’ve been thinking Honda or Ford.” If the CLA seized just a sliver of the mainstream sedan market, the financial impact on Mercedes would be massive, Cannon indicated.
Yes this is where it begins to get fun. Mercedes is quite arrogant in thinking a family int he market for a Fusion or Camry is going to downgrade, yes downgrade to the CLA. a Loaded Fusion is much more car than the CLA. Dimensionally and included equipment. Don't believe me? Do your research. Mercedes is BANKING on brand rep to move the CLA..

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The task before the CLA, then, is daunting: deliver the prestige and performance that Mercedes-Benz customers expect, at a price that could woo a few mainstream buyers. It is an overwhelming brief, and the resulting machine shows the strain – one moment throwing off sparks of brilliance, the next veering off into teeth-gnashing incompetence. Like a politician serving irreconcilable constituencies, the CLA appeases more than it pleases.
Oh this passage is downright mean, but it does induce a little snicker.

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Scrutinise the CLA, though, and an un-Mercedes picture emerges. Door locks have all the tensile strength of No 2 pencils; a determined child could snap the slender black stalks where they stand. Unsightly sheet metal peeks out between door panels and pillars. Rapping knuckles against the dash produces a tinniness evocative of pre-bailout General Motors products. By adhering zealously to a sub-$30,000 price point, Mercedes smuggled in sub-$15,000 materials and build practices. Volkswagen has earned similar razzes for gutting its Jetta sedan, once a critical darling, to serve a sub-$16,000 starting price. If such practices were unbecoming of Volkswagen, how do they reflect on Mercedes-Benz?
crucifixion, obviously the brits have not forgot about WWII, I've been wondering what it took to get below the $30K hard deck....

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yet for all the differentiators thrown at the AMG – revised fascias, cherry-red seat belt straps, that berserk exhaust – the panel gaps and play-set plastics carry over from the CLA250 unaddressed. A shopper stepping from an Audi S4 or Lexus IS350 F Sport into the AMG might not even bother to turn the ignition key. And that is saying nothing of Mercedes’ larger C63 AMG, which can be approached for $61,000. Plastics do not rattle in there.
fit and finish still prominent on CLA 45....

Quote:
If anything, the CLA45 highlights how accomplished – even desirable – the base CLA250 can be. A $33,695 outlay brings 18in alloy wheels, engine stop-start, Mercedes’ Comand navigation and connectivity system, power front seats, rain-sensing wipers and durable yet handsome MB-Tex synthetic leather upholstery. Buzzy plastics and panel gaps notwithstanding, the base car looks and generally performs like a proper sport sedan. And that oversize three-pointed star on the grille is an incentive that no Honda “H” or Ford blue oval can match.
Fantastic way to conclude, something I've been hammering for a while here. My biggest fear is the last sentence bolded, the CLA is not for Mercedes people. What is this going to mean to the higher end Mercedes clientele. Just think about these people for a second, lots live in gated or exclusive communities, belong to private country clubs, dine in exclusive restaurants. They buy Mercedes for the exclusivity, not to mention the exclusion of plebeian buyers. Do you think these people are going to want to run shoulders with Martha and her 3 kids in a base CLA200.....

I DON'T THINK SO...

Although the article wasn't that bad, I recommend reading the full version there are many good points about its looks and the ideals of the CLA, but those were irrelevant to my points..
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post #3 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 01:11 PM
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Thanks for the post. Will be a great read for the train ride home.



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post #4 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 01:26 PM
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Fantastic way to conclude, something I've been hammering for a while here. My biggest fear is the last sentence bolded, the CLA is not for Mercedes people. What is this going to mean to the higher end Mercedes clientele. Just think about these people for a second, lots live in gated or exclusive communities, belong to private country clubs, dine in exclusive restaurants. They buy Mercedes for the exclusivity, not to mention the exclusion of plebeian buyers. Do you think these people are going to want to run shoulders with Martha and her 3 kids in a base CLA200.....

I DON'T THINK SO...
Well, realistically there's always going to be people who are buying it just for the three point star. Just like there are people who buy a Rolex just for the badge without knowing what a Rolex is, or people who refuse to buy clothing that doesn't have someone's full name on the tag. I've always been curious about the Mercedes brand. I know in the states it is a luxury brand, probably the highest before you get to the high high end like Rolls and Bentley. In Europe though I find it an interesting dichotomy that the brand is still considered a high end brand while selling the A-class hatch and B-class MPV. Those two cars in no way strike me as high end, but Mercedes still seems to carry that prestige. Why couldn't it with the CLA? At least the CLA looks more in line with normal Mercedes lineup than the A or B class. And usually that's what makes all the difference in the masses.
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post #5 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 01:56 PM
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Well, realistically there's always going to be people who are buying it just for the three point star. Just like there are people who buy a Rolex just for the badge without knowing what a Rolex is, or people who refuse to buy clothing that doesn't have someone's full name on the tag. I've always been curious about the Mercedes brand. I know in the states it is a luxury brand, probably the highest before you get to the high high end like Rolls and Bentley. In Europe though I find it an interesting dichotomy that the brand is still considered a high end brand while selling the A-class hatch and B-class MPV. Those two cars in no way strike me as high end, but Mercedes still seems to carry that prestige. Why couldn't it with the CLA? At least the CLA looks more in line with normal Mercedes lineup than the A or B class. And usually that's what makes all the difference in the masses.
I think the european dichotomy you refer too stems from Mercedes North American entry. MBUSA showed up in 1965, think about that the heyday of the American Big Three. At the time Mercedes was essentially a GM/Ford/Chrysler of Germany, with BMW.

So when those makers made the jump across the pond, instead of competing head to head with the domestic favorites Mercedes decided to move upmarket as a luxury brand... the rest is history...

In Germany MB's are still used as taxicabs and general fleet vehicles. So in Europe that dichotomy is allowed to fly because its part of Mercedes history. In NA Mercedes has always been high class.

And my problem with the whole situation is exactly what you wrote in your last sentence, it looks the part and that will placate the masses. Its all about form with a severe lack of function. Well Mercedes function at least...
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post #6 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 03:19 PM
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Well if the Average Joe thinks their like the business executive in the next neighborhood because they've got a Merc that's 3 times cheaper that's their choice. And the business executive will still sneer at how Joe didn't buy a real Merc. Kind of like how people argue whether or not Dinos is a real Ferrari (I'm actually not old enough to know about that but I hear about it). In the end if it's a nice car I'll still root for it. Heck, I liked the Suzuki Kisashi, and that's a rubbish brand.

And I think it's probably a good thing in the long run for Mercedes to widen the base more. One, it's got to sell more cheap and fuel efficent cars if it wants to survive with European and up and coming American and Chinese regulations. And two the money it makes off of A/B classes and their spinoffs can help fund other projects like AMG. Sure the margins are slimmer than in the S-class, but volume can overcome that. At least the CLA is less blatant (and ridiculously overpriced) than the Aston Martin Cygnet. And the people who know will always know which is the better car. Just like how the average Joe will look at a C63 and think "eh, it's like my C-class," but those who know will know that its a different animal.

I think seeing the Sprinters in the US for the last decade helped Mercedes some with its "downclassing." I didn't find it that odd that Mercedes went cheaper since I knew they made commerical vehicles.
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post #7 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 03:26 PM
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Well if the Average Joe thinks their like the business executive in the next neighborhood because they've got a Merc that's 3 times cheaper that's their choice. And the business executive will still sneer at how Joe didn't buy a real Merc. Kind of like how people argue whether or not Dinos is a real Ferrari (I'm actually not old enough to know about that but I hear about it). In the end if it's a nice car I'll still root for it. Heck, I liked the Suzuki Kisashi, and that's a rubbish brand.

And I think it's probably a good thing in the long run for Mercedes to widen the base more. One, it's got to sell more cheap and fuel efficent cars if it wants to survive with European and up and coming American and Chinese regulations. And two the money it makes off of A/B classes and their spinoffs can help fund other projects like AMG. Sure the margins are slimmer than in the S-class, but volume can overcome that. At least the CLA is less blatant (and ridiculously overpriced) than the Aston Martin Cygnet. And the people who know will always know which is the better car. Just like how the average Joe will look at a C63 and think "eh, it's like my C-class," but those who know will know that its a different animal.

I think seeing the Sprinters in the US for the last decade helped Mercedes some with its "downclassing." I didn't find it that odd that Mercedes went cheaper since I knew they made commerical vehicles.
Fair points, but my number one concern, for mercedes, is not that Joe will view himself on equal footing as the CEO in the next neighborhood over, but that the CEO in the next neighborhood will view Joe as equal to him.

And what I mean by that, is if traditional Mercedes clientele start to feel that their exclusivity is being threatened they will bolt. One of the best examples i can give is Coach.

Coach used to be a high end brand, but in the name of diversity they began selling products cheaper to the average Janes, and once you see a lady waiting for the bus with a coach purse the high end buyers called it quits on coach. Its not the coach is a poor brand its just that now its no longer servicing the clientele it had originally intended.

I just worry that once Mercedes starts to see its big dollar clientele migrate elsewhere it begins a downward spiral of catering to who it still has, which would be all the new CLA and GLA buyers recently on boarded...
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post #8 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 03:40 PM
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Fair points, but my number one concern, for mercedes, is not that Joe will view himself on equal footing as the CEO in the next neighborhood over, but that the CEO in the next neighborhood will view Joe as equal to him.

And what I mean by that, is if traditional Mercedes clientele start to feel that their exclusivity is being threatened they will bolt. One of the best examples i can give is Coach.

Coach used to be a high end brand, but in the name of diversity they began selling products cheaper to the average Janes, and once you see a lady waiting for the bus with a coach purse the high end buyers called it quits on coach. Its not the coach is a poor brand its just that now its no longer servicing the clientele it had originally intended.

I just worry that once Mercedes starts to see its big dollar clientele migrate elsewhere it begins a downward spiral of catering to who it still has, which would be all the new CLA and GLA buyers recently on boarded...
I think most of the big high end brands aren't going to last very long. In fact, the only ones (short of crazy hypercars like Pagani) that are truly independent are BMW, Mercedes, and Aston Martin. Everyone else had to pair up with some mainstream manufacturer. I see BMW and Aston going that route in the future as well. Mercedes, though, is big enough to survive on its own. Maybe create an offshoot like Lexus/Acura/Infiniti for E and S-class? Or sell the A/B/CLA as a Scion like label? I don't know. But I think Mercedes will have to cater down if it wants to survive.

On the other hand, there are many brands that I see regular people wear that haven't lost their allure like Donna Karen, Louis Vuitton. I guess Mercedes will just need to find that niche. And at the very least, the CLA really isn't THAT cheap. I mean, first off, you actually can't buy one in the US for a MSRP below 30k because of destination, and if you want ANYTHING in your car you're looking at 35-36k, which is roughly what a partially decked out C-class was 5-6 years ago. So they're really just making sure they've still got something that can be sold in the 30k range. That's still more than the average middle class family can spend on what is essentially a large coupe.
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post #9 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 04:05 PM
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its an entry level mercedes.

they are comparing it to the C63 AMG?

And what is wrong with the mercedes being compared to cheaper brands?

Its a good read but I don't think it'll capture the interest of many. The CLA seems to be doing just fine.

So from the perspective of Mercedes - they did a good job.
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post #10 of 14 Old 10-04-2013, 04:24 PM
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I think most of the big high end brands aren't going to last very long. In fact, the only ones (short of crazy hypercars like Pagani) that are truly independent are BMW, Mercedes, and Aston Martin. Everyone else had to pair up with some mainstream manufacturer. I see BMW and Aston going that route in the future as well. Mercedes, though, is big enough to survive on its own. Maybe create an offshoot like Lexus/Acura/Infiniti for E and S-class? Or sell the A/B/CLA as a Scion like label? I don't know. But I think Mercedes will have to cater down if it wants to survive.

On the other hand, there are many brands that I see regular people wear that haven't lost their allure like Donna Karen, Louis Vuitton. I guess Mercedes will just need to find that niche. And at the very least, the CLA really isn't THAT cheap. I mean, first off, you actually can't buy one in the US for a MSRP below 30k because of destination, and if you want ANYTHING in your car you're looking at 35-36k, which is roughly what a partially decked out C-class was 5-6 years ago. So they're really just making sure they've still got something that can be sold in the 30k range. That's still more than the average middle class family can spend on what is essentially a large coupe.
I like that suggestion, I agree if Mercedes wants to move downmarket considerably without hurting their core clientele they need to spin off something into a subsidary brand. But then again, will the subsidiary brand sell as well without the 3 pointed star?

As for the small family the way i see it is that if you have a family of 4 or 5 and looking to spend ~40K on a sedan are not going to go with CLA they're going to look at something bigger size wise. I dont think the CLA will be able to poach from the Hondas and Fords of the world just because they provide more value in ~40K package than the CLA...
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