2014 CLA – Pretend You’re Driving a Mercedes!

Look, folks, the all-, spanking-new Mercedes-Benz CLA (no I don’t mean CLS) has finally made it to series production. It is here. And, ugh, it has been driven. At least, the media has. But, it has also been looked at. I mean quite literally. And examined. Now, here, look at it. Yes, there it is, “Engineered Like No Other Car in the World?” No, in the compact luxury segment?

PHOTO: Net Car Show

PHOTO: Net Car Show

OK. Hold that image in mind and come on, let’s talk.

What do you expect when you here the name Mercedes-Benz? Graceful, Superb, Arresting Design? Richly appealing interior? Sophisticated, ground-breaking, and trail-blazing technology? Exclusive individuality and personality? Something to covet and enjoy every moment of ownership? Or gawkership? The Best or Nothing?

PHOTO: Net Car Show

PHOTO: Net Car Show

Well, Daimler continues to make Mercedes-Benz those and more. They go up market, they come down. So for those truths of perceptions and evocations (and actuality, if I must add) to hold we will now of necessity have the Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-Benz. It seems as though these two classes of the brand – the ones and the others – will remain the result of a Daimler tedium with brand dilution.

Your Right of Way! today gives you a chance to vote on these two ends of the Mercedes balance – to know you’re driving the Mercedes or pretend you’re driving a Mercedes. That is, if $29,000 allures you into a Mercedes showroom, and you accept that anything with a tri-star badge is a tri-star. Really, what else can it be – Infiniti? Take note. Now, it is the CLA! Or why not to be a CLA?

Here’s the reason for this worrisome brand dilution.

When you feel you have risen above the competition in your industry and that anything you put your badge on will be a hit, no matter what it is or stands for, and there’s great sheet-metal stylists to etch sexy curves into stamped steel, (gifted with Botticelli fingers and surreal sensual imagination) great engineers to integrate exciting Safety tech, and modern-age developers to make your every thing mimic the iPad, while equally making the iPhone extra Versatile, you become deluded.

But, the tedium doesn’t end there. Or, really, didn’t start there. There’s also money to be made. Say plenty of money! According to Bernie Glaser, marketing chief for Mercedes’ US sales subsidiary, as quoted in a recent news report on thedetroitbureau.com, compact luxury cars are the next big explosion in the US market.

Referring to industry market research that the generation now booming the luxury car market, the Millennials, the Baby Boomers taking their old S-Classes and 7-Series to their graves, these do not care about size or shape or style, but about price and price only, and would love to drive something that is wearing a solid reputation and image like the Mercedes’ tri-star but priced like a Corolla or Elantra, Glaser thinks it’s a great idea to run the CLA off the mills and cash in on this booty.

Really, there’s also the A-Class and B-Class, and just recently from Frankfurt, the GLA (sub-compact luxury crossover) to go with this CLA. Mercedes-Benz is ready!

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA; PHOTO: Net Car Show

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA; PHOTO: Net Car Show

You see, Mercedes-Benz is using its well-established brand image to make money. Bernie Glaser calls it, “a Gen-Y strategy.” For the MBA-type this is smart. Not that making money is wrong! But not at the expense of a long cherished brand! For true loyalists of the brand, those who pay close to $100,000 for the Mercedes, each time, or more, the purists who made and continue to make Mercedes, really, this strategy is cheap and class-desecrating! If you drive the Mercedes or just love seeing like some of the exciting ones carrying the AMG badge, I know you care.

Maybe the top echelons at Daimler cannot take their eyes off the bottom line anymore and care less how being everything to everybody and selling luxury cars in every nook and cranny and slum and town-square squanders their reputation and hurts the exclusiveness of the Mercedes brand, which they set up and designed in the first place, but you, yes, you, love the Solidity of the Mercedes you paid your hard-earned dollar to possess, and would love what you drive to retain its brand reputation, it’s time for you to take action. It’s simple – just vote this article to Mercedes!

I did not have to vaunt off to you the latest Safety and driving dynamics technology on this CLA (or any of the other myriad dumbed-down “luxury” releases), or deny that there’s any, or speak of driving impressions, or deny that there’s any. As to these, Mercedes has got something for those younger buyers that they’re targeting, and the CLA rides and handles fairly OK. Why, the AMG is sporty! That secures a place for the CLA? I am going to ask you to look at the CLS and the CLA, then ask if the latter too is a Mercedes and if Daimler had to do it at all! Still, I don’t think this CLA could not have been designed to be less boxy and more graceful, or I’m not exactly sure. It just didn’t work!

PHOTO: Net Car Show

PHOTO: Net Car Show

PHOTO: Net Car Show

PHOTO: Net Car Show

Usually when you’re doing a compact car you’re quite thinking of blending out the dimensions. The width never blends with the length – looks like a horizontal b cane to flog with. It wants to be short, then it’s tall, then it’s boxy. The proportions just don’t come out right!

Looking at a true sedan it’s neither too long nor short for the width nor is it ever too wide or narrow for the length – it’s the Perfect rectangle, that is, basically, with the curves built in to enhance Aerodynamics and visual dynamism.

Graceful.

It’s the way to draw a most descriptive picture of the word, flow.

Svelte.

If you understand that then you see that Mercedes hasn’t succeeded with the experiment of downsizing the super sleek CLS coupe-sedan, and if it has, how does this later offering make the former seem in the same market, wearing the same badge? What’s this do to the Personality of the CLS, or the S-Class, or any of the Mercedes at all, or the brand itself? One is California iPhone and the other Beijing one, huh? And that is OK, right, as B comes before C, so is A before S? Now you know you got to climb several letters later in the series to get to S. S is Superb; A Aspiring, but here’s one annoying, dreadful, diluting aspiration! I hate the CLA!

As Mercedes would agree, with the CLA you pretend you’re driving a Mercedes and having been lured into such pretext and possibly won over, you get tired of pretending, if it grows on you (like cancer) and wears you out, or if you’re truly embarrassed pretending you’re feeling something that is not present, the true passion of Mercedes’, and hopefully do the right thing and go for the CLS, or the like, up market, and then know you’re driving a Mercedes. It is this and it is that.

Have you enjoyed today’s episode? We do Your Right of Way! to educate you on motoring. We value your time and always keep it pointed and brief. Take a moment to leave a reply and pay it forward to your network.

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