Supply will be limited to several thousand CLAs this year because of high demand in Europe, where the car was launched in April. Mercedes-Benz's U.S dealers had 2,500 units in stock for the Sept. 20 launch.
Cannon calls the CLA the new "gateway" into the Mercedes-Benz brand with its $29,900 price before shipping. Mercedes-Benz USA set that $30,000 target at the start of CLA development, he said. The shipping cost is $925, making the base price $30,825. Without that "great gateway and that entry," Cannon said "you run the risk of your current population aging and just going away."
The average age of the C-class family is 50, and "if the CLA drops [that] by 10 years, that is a home run for us," Cannon said.
Mercedes-Benz also is entering the segment ahead of its German competitors. BMW won't have a fwd 1-series sedan until 2017, and the Audi A3 sedan goes on sale later this year. So the CLA will be competing with well-equipped volume compacts.
The price "will recalibrate the value perception," of Mercedes-Benz, because in clinics potential buyers shown the CLA thought it would cost $50,000 to $60,000, he said.
Mercedes-Benz is touting the CLA as "equipped, not stripped," with eight standard airbags, a seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission, shift-by-wire gear selector, power mechanical steering and a collision assist program. The CLA has coupelike styling similar to that of the larger CLS.
Mercedes-Benz is keeping the lineup simple with one body style. There are only three variants and only two engines, both turbocharged four-cylinders. The lineup:
- The base CLA250, which went on sale Sept. 20.
- The CLA45 AMG, arriving in November, has standard 4Matic all-wheel drive and a base price of $48,355, including shipping. The awd system has been redesigned for the CLA.
- The CLA250 4Matic will be available next spring. Pricing hasn't been disclosed. The CLA250 has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with 208 hp, 258 pounds-feet of torque and stop-start technology. It has an EPA fuel economy rating of 26 mpg city and 38 mpg highway.
Standard equipment includes the Mercedes-Benz mbrace2 infotainment system that uses cloud technology. A 5.8-inch display and Bluetooth connectivity are standard. Optional equipment includes a 7-inch display and the Mercedes-Benz Comand system with navigation, voice control and an SD card slot.
Mercedes-Benz is touting the CLA45 AMG as having the "world's most powerful four-cylinder engine in series production." The turbocharged powerplant has 355 hp and a peak torque of 332 pounds-feet. The AMG version goes from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph. Fuel economy has not been announced.