A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity of seeing the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon, in person, on the King’s Road, Chelsea. I thought it was a CLA, and that someone had decided to remove the CL from the vehicle’s badge. Apparently, I was wrong! I should have read the Daimler AG’s press release more carefully, as the A-Class Saloon is an entirely different car than the CLA model.
I personally consider the CLA to be the most obsolete car on this planet, in fact, in our solar system! It looks like someone put the CLS into a dryer which resulted in the obscure looking CLA. The CLA is, however, a cash maker in emerging markets, where the taxation is burdensome on cars. Even taking this into account, it does not justify the awkward aesthetic of the CLA.
I have always considered the CLA to be the ‘Saloon’ version of the A-Class, with a similar frontage, the same interior but with a larger boot. Daimler AG headquarters had a different idea, launching the A-Class Saloon, based on expensive consultants, Excel spreadsheets, and very long reports to justify the advantages and differences over the CLA.
I have been interested in cars since I was a child, and I can even spot the model of a car at night. I could not, however, decipher the difference in design between the CLA and the A-Class Saloon. True, the A-Class Saloon has a higher roofline at the C-column, along with a few other variances, including the suspension which is probably a bit softer in the A-Class Saloon. Yet no glaringly obvious difference would entice someone to choose anything other than the cheapest.
The CLA is positioned as a sportier version, but the differences are so slight I doubt that someone would visit a dealer and measure the rooflines to then decide.
The CLA and A-Class Saloon will inevitably saturate each-others’ market share.
A similar situation occurred with the BMW brand. Take the BMW 3-Series Gran Tour and BMW 4-Series Gran Coupe; they look the same. I raised this issue on my blog and received an abundance of emails in response as so many people were bewildered about the difference or lack of difference between the two models. The only notable criterion was pricing, and this soon wore thin with the consumers, and consequently, the 3-Series Gran Tour was abandoned!
Inevitably this may also be the fate of the A-Class Saloon and the CLA. Someone accidently pitched the idea to Daimler AG, and it went into production.