• Jan 13, 2013
The Mercedes-Benz CLA (Credit: Mercedes-Benz).
Mercedes-Benz on Sunday brought out its baby Benz, a car aimed at bringing in a more youthful generation of buyers before anyone catches on and realizes Mercedes' current buyers are -- dare we say it -- getting older.

The car may be the best vehicle in Detroit that won't actually be shown at the North American International Auto. Mercedes unveiled the car at the swanky Book-Cadillac Hotel in downtown Detroit, and is whisking it away to Berlin's Fashion Week later this month. It will go on display for consumers at the Geneva Auto Show in March.

All of this intrique is part of the automaker's attempt to hype how hip the new CLA250 is, calling it "the style rebel." Mercedes is also emphasizing safety, making an accident avoidance system standard on the car, and promising that drivers will be able to integrate their smartphones with the car's entertainment system.

The price, car size and styling all play into one major goal for the automaker: Attracting younger buyers. The average Mercedes customer is around 53 years old, and although those buyers tend to be wealthy and loyal, it's never good for any brand to keep playing toward an aging base. Otherwise they face the curse of being considered an old man's car, and once that reputation settles in, it's very hard to shake. (See Buick and Lincoln for examples.)

Mercedes hopes the CLA will appeal to people in their 30s and 40s. When it goes on sale later in September, it's expected to go for around $30,000, about $5,000 less than the C-class, which is currently Mercedes' cheapest car segment sold in the U.S.

"We aim to reach new target groups with the CLA – including those who never wanted to drive a Mercedes," said Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Mercedes.

At the sneak peak in Detroit Sunday night, Mercedes brought out pop star Karmin to sing her hit song "Brokenhearted" to a room full of 40- and 50-somethings who had to Google her on their phones to figure out how to spell her name. Karmin, like the CLA, isn't for their age group. Schmidt said the company wants to tap into Gen Y, which is 75 million strong in the U.S.

"The car sends out a clear message -- I am a real Mercedes, but not as you know it," he said. "That's why we think the CLA will win over buyers who never thought of buying a Mercedes before."

The CLA comes with an inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine pumping out 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It comes with collision prevention assist as a standard feature. The safety system uses radar to warn drivers of obstacles, and anticipates how much braking force will be needed once drivers step on the brakes.

The car is almost an exact replica of the concept car shown in Beijing last year – which is a feat. Most automakers show off fancy concepts and later produce disappointing production cars.

Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, said the company worked diligently to copy the concept car's styling into the production car in an attempt to make the car stand out.

"The response to the concept style coupe was overwhelming," Zetsche said. "The most frequent comment by far was, 'Please put this car into series production.' That's precisely what we are doing now."


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  • 31 Comments
      RYAN
      • 1 Year Ago
      MB must have older buyers,most young buyers dont have enough money to buy one.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Guys, this article has a typo... "about $5,000 less than the CLS, which is currently Mercedes' cheapest car sold in the U.S." You mean 5,000 less than the C.
      brennemanbelkin
      • 1 Year Ago
      My Benz is the best car I ever owned.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brennemanbelkin
        Me too!
      • 1 Year Ago
      tmoschetti, you are ti fool if you voted for Romney.
      • 1 Year Ago
      This article is about the CLA not the CLS. When available for sale, the CLA will indeed be 5K less than the current least expensive Benz the C-Class. Why are many of you commenting about the CLS when it's not even the subject of the article?
      • 1 Year Ago
      This car will drive broke some kids. Maintenance and repair are hidden in this report for one reason: very expensive!
      Sable Combs
      • 1 Year Ago
      I like it. Mercedes has been a dream car for me. It looks like I can now afford one, and I'm happy about that:)
      • 1 Year Ago
      The CLS cannot be the cheapest car sold in the US.
      Drew
      • 1 Year Ago
      ml430 sold with 240k still in service s430 sold with 155k still inservice s500 4matic 145k is my daily driver After moving up from jag to bmw to MB you would have to pry the MB keys out of my hand.
      • 1 Year Ago
      The CLS is far from the cheapest MB offered stateside and no where near $35k brand new. Try again..
      • 1 Year Ago
      yeah! what the hell... the CLS goes for around 80 thousand! Check your facts! embarrassing journalism. The C250 starts at around 34K, and that's the cheapest Mercedes in America at the moment. You call yourself an auto expert??!
      Jerry
      • 1 Year Ago
      FOR ALL OF YOU JINO, THATS JEWS IN NAME ONLY, AND YES I AM OF THE FAITH, REMEMBER THAT THE DIMELER/ BENZ FAMILY GAVE "HITLER" ALL OF THE MONEY FOR HIS WAR AND HIS KILLING OF SIX MILLION PLUS JEWS AND OTHER HUMAN BEINGS!! GO BUY YOU CARDONT WITE AS I JUST DELETE
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