Cheap luxury cars…Well, sort of.
When the car market is doing well, luxury makes always try to find a new entry level car to balance out their lineup and attract new money into the company. BMW, Mercedes, and Audi are all fighting right now for the lion’s share of the market, and all have new models to try to get that Toyota buyer into something nicer. The Germans aren’t alone in this regard, but they might be the most guilty for messing this up in the past. Let’s take a look at some missteps and triumphs in the battle to go cheaper.
- The Mercedes C230 Kompressor: Introduced in the early 2000’s to lower the cost of entry into the Mercedes range, the C230 featured a hatchback style. The model was relatively popular and was successful in getting new owners into the segment. Of course, it was without leather and a CD player as standard. You can now find them rattling around on their last legs.
- BMW 318t Compact: Another Hatchback version of a German sedan, the 3-series compact was a hit in european markets, and despite being very reasonably priced, the car never really caught on in North America. We only ever got the first generation compact here, and after a four year run of sales, it left our shores.
- The Porsche Boxster: When the Porsche Boxster first came to the US, it had been decades since a mid-engined, rear wheel drive convertible was offered from the German brand. Sharing many parts with the 911 of that era meant it had high end appearance, but was available to those who couldn’t afford the rear engined car. Even those these cars suffered from some reliability issues, they are treasured by enthusiasts to this day.
- The Audi A3: The A3 has come to our shores in two forms. Both have been based on the same platform that underpins the VW golf. The new sedan is part of the new wave of entry level luxury cars, and has been turned into everything from a sporty S, an upcoming hardcore RS, a cabriolet, and even a race car. With a great interior and handling, the stylish Audi is currently available.
- The Mercedes CLA: When the CLA first debuted in a Super Bowl ad featuring Willem Dafoe, it was a tad worrying at the amount of work Mercedes had thrown into coming just under thirty grand. But, despite all of that it has become a common site around the US. Front wheel drive Mercedes might be heresy to some, but the sales success of the car has given Mercedes an entirely new marketshare. Almost like they had done this before….