by Jez Spinks

The prospects of a sub-$30,000 Mercedes-Benz have been boosted by the company’s admission that it is looking at cars smaller than the new A-Class hatchback.

Mercedes-Benz is in the process of rolling out a range of compact vehicles that are targeting younger buyers. It started with the new-generation B-Class in 2012, and was joined in March by the new-look A-Class.

They will be followed by a four-door ‘coupe’ dubbed CLA (below), launched this week in France before going on sale locally in late 2013, and a baby SUV called GLA.

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was launched with an aggressive $35,600 starting price, while the CLA will offer a cheaper mid-size alternative to the company’s best-selling model, the C-Class.

Mercedes said at the international launch of the CLA that it is considering even smaller cars as part of its alliance tie-up with RenaultNissan. They would use the three-pointed-star badge rather than the Smart logo of the company’s city car subsidiary.

“We’re exploring it [cars smaller than A-Class] but it’s difficult for us to go into the B [city car] segment, and also from financial perspective [because of narrower profit margins],” said Mercedes-Benz’s head of development for compact cars, Hansjorg Schinke.

“With Renault-Nissan there are discussions going on, exploring opportunities, if there’s opportunity [to joint venture] or do it stand alone.

“They’re very strong in B segment vehicles, so the discussion is whether taking an existing platform or maybe to develop a new one together. Especially, Nissan is interested in [being] more premium, so interesting in getting a little bit in touch with Mercedes, so we’ll see where it’s going.”

UK magazine Autocar quoted a Mercedes insider in early March saying an SUV about the size of a Volkswagen Polo would be the first of the sub-A-Class models to go into production, by about 2016.

Mercedes and Renault-Nissan are already collaborating on various projects.

The next-generation Smart Fortwo (current model above) and Smart Forfour will share their platform and three-cylinder engine with the next Renault Twingo. Mercedes is also lending the A-Class (MFA) platform to Nissan for at least one compact model under its Infiniti luxury brand.

The last Mercedes to cost under $30,000 was a previous-generation A-Class (below) that was sold with a manual gearbox and limited features.

The company has admitted the old A-Class, however, failed to help reduce the age of the average Mercedes buyer, which at 55 is one of the oldest in the automotive industry.

Schinke said the new A-Class was already attracting new and younger buyers to the brand, mainly due to its new hatchback design.

“For the CLA we have to find out [whether it will lure younger buyers than C-Class], but with A-Class at the moment, 40 per cent of buyers are coming from a different brand.

“I think the advantage of the A-Class is the design language [similarity] to the Golf.

“At the moment [younger buyers] are more attracted to Audi and BMW because [they are]more spectacular, more attractive, so we want to get in there with young people.

“So starting with compact cars and then [those customers] hopefully move to C-Class and E-Class.”

  • Resident

    The latest Renault Clio is said to be an amazing package and entertaining drive – This could form the new basis for a smaller ?-Class car from MB, just as the Kangoo is the Citan.

  • Neil J Way

    Going too far downmarket is a slippery slope for Merc.

    BMW and Audi can promote their products to a younger audience because they have some design flair to them. Merc needs to trial their more exuberant design language first before moving into the sub-30k range.

    • Resident

      I think you’ll find that the A-Class now has some design flair and is targetting the younger audience. Apparently there are queues at the major Sydney dealerships for test drives on the weekend – and they are all new to the brand.

      • $29896495

        That really sounds like an exaggeration to me. I think what Neil is getting at is that these bangalised cars aren’t quite there to be polite and I think that’s the case. It sort of shows that merc, don’t have a handle on that end of the market.

        • Neil J Way

          My point is Merc should let their design language and new A/B platform do the talking, rather than going for the Polo/Fiesta market.

          • Resident

            I believe they are going for the Mini/A1/DS3 market. Similar to what BMW want to do with their soon-to-be-released FWD vehicles.

        • Resident

          It isn’t an exaggeration huwtm – I was there to witness it with my own eyes. Maybe you should visit them before insinuating that I’m lying.

          Merc doesn’t have a hold on that market? Have you seen latest A250 Sport and all the features you are getting? It shows that they’ve really looked at what drives Golf GTI sales and what are the most common features people option on their Volkswagen.

          Good on them too, the A-Class has really unsettled the competition (Audi reducing their A3 prices??)

          • $29896495

            I didn’t insinuate anything, I stated it. So people are cuing up like the Block to see these things? Fair enough. Personally, it doesn’t rock my boat, circa 80K for what you are talking about I think can be achieved with other brands for less, with comparable quality. I’m not talking Audi.

          • Resident

            Aside from the A45, I’m not sure which Mercedes-Benz you are then referring to??

            The article is talking about sub-$36k vehicles… you are talking about Circa $80k?

            It probably doesn’t rock your boat because you aren’t the target market. The younger generation are.

          • $29896495

            The response was to your comment not the article. the bottom line is the cheapest A is cheap for a reason.

          • Resident

            But, I never mentioned an $80k Mercedes-Benz…?

          • $29896495

            Quote “Merc doesn’t have a hold on that market? Have you seen latest A250 Sport and all the features you are getting?” you didn’t write that even though it sits in your response? 
            I think there are better cars for less. Just so you know, I like all sorts of cars, I guess from the fiesta Metal up. this so called small car “A” is longer than a “C Class” The bottom models are stripped bare to get the price down.

            Mercedes has been using cars by other manufactures which slot into the market segment for years. They simply are going to try and fill the gab between Smart and A with something which could well be a mixture of Nissan and Merc.

            Merc frankly are no better than Holden, it just amazes me how people can get wet and blinded to some manufactures.

          • Resident

            Clearly Huwtm you should know your information before you bag me out.

            At no point did I mention $80k. The A250 Sport is NOT circa $80k. They are $49,990 plus on roads.

            And for the price, compared to the cheaper rival Golf GTI, have plenty of equipment to validate the price. The Golf GTI 5-Door DSG equipped model is $42,990 before you add options Bi-Xenons ($2,100), Park Assist 2 ($1,400), Rear Camera ($500), Sunroof ($1,900 – Not Panoramic like the A250) and 18″ Detroit Alloys ($1,200) making the spec-for-spec Golf GTI an eye watering $50,090… for a Golf! So there you have it, the A250 Sport represents good value.

            Off you go, jump into your superior Holden Cruze SRi-V then.

          • $29896495

            I bagged out the fact you denied writing something you obviously did. In reference to a fully stocked Golf for 50, or a Merc for 50 plus on road plus options I’ll take the Golf 3 door, or OPC GTC, or any number of other cars. Don’t want an old man’s car with 5 doors don’t want any sort of sun roof, Park assist (If you can’t park one of these things you shouldn’t be driving). I guess topped out if it were a Golf I was looking for, it would be 45K or under. Probably a better car too.

            I tell you what if you go looking at an A250 and alter just to things you’ll be looking at close to 60K and it goes on.

          • Resident

            Huwtm, you are wrong. Just admit and move on.
            I never mentioned $80k. The reviews have proven that Mercedes Benz A-Class is no longer an old man’s car.

            And you are missing the facts – the A250 Sport vs GTI at a spec-for-spec, the A is cheaper.

          • $29896495

            You really should go back to school. Try reading it without preconceptions. I placed a quote of yours which you deny writing, you seem to be avoiding that. 

            To my mind a 5 doors and unusable rear seats, shaky steering over bumps, ugly interior, belong with the Merc/Hyundai styling in some one else’s garage. 

            remind you that Merc have been roundly criticised for poor quality and bad performance on warranty issues, which there have been many and obviously will continue with the DSG box. 

            I listed just a few cars that I feel are far better for the job for far less than this car you love so much. If you like it throw your money away. (Oh try adding a few options like real leather see what that does your 50K plus on roads). 

          • Resident

            I know what I wrote. And I know I didn’t say anything about an $80k car. The A250 Sport does have plenty of features, yes.

            I apploud you on your decision to purchase either OPC or GTI 3dr.

            Point is, the A-Class is appealing to a younger audience… just like me.

            And it doesn’t cost $80k.


    When will they make a nice truck?

    • Martin

      The final frontier… How sweet would an AMG C-class sized ute be?

    • Jacob

      Mercedes Actros trucks can be seen in every city in AUS.

      Mercedes Sprinter vans are used by AUS Post, VIC Ambulances, and couriers.