I wrote about compact (‘entry level’) luxury cars over a year ago (!), previewing some upcoming models. Fast forward 15 months, and there are some notable updates…
The CLA250 is well on its way to the States. It will slot below the C-class (sub-$30k, barely), but with a sleeker, sexier silhouette. Assuming it feels like a real Benz (hefty, German), I will like it. It forgoes wood trim (fine by me), but cannot be optioned with a manual shifter (boo!). Reviews have been positive.
To much less anticipation is the B200 electric MPV, which seems like an afterthought import to the US. A new market for MB (not counting the capable but embarrassing R-class)…it will at least be green, which I can support. The looks, not so much.
Audi will soon be replacing its A3 hatchback, the longest-in-the-tooth model they currently sell. The new iteration will be a CLA-esque shrunken 3-box, 4-door. Both models look nearly identical to other models in their families (the CLS and the A6 respectively). Americans apparently want sedans, no matter how small.
Hopefully it will be available with a diesel engine, as in the current model, and with a self-rower.
BMW brought the 1-series to the US in 2008 in coupe and convertible format (sub-3 series). That generation will be put to pasture and replaced by a 2-series* of the same variants, to compete directly with the A3 and CLA.
BMW needs to address interior quality, and blobby styling of the current 1. Since its entré, it’s represented a purer BMW model, with little in the way of options – more like BMWs of the past, focused on driving instead of comfort. A sought and very popular model, so no need to fix what is not broken.
*BMW nomenclature is diversifying, making use of all the numerals between 0 and 8, slowly but surely. Evens are coupes, and odds are sedans/wagons.
All these models come as their siblings have grown – bigger, more expensive, and softer. To maintain consistent growth, marques evolve their models, so that each generation is literally bigger and better. The new Mercedes S-class, for example, is poised to compete with Bentley and Rolls-Royce moving forward, not just the 7-series and A8.
Other notable upcoming compact premiums include:
BMW i3 – a drastic departure for Bimmer: an upright, boxy, front-drive electric city car. Starting around $40k.
Volkswagen GTI, GTD – we have to wait an extra year for these over Europe, but they’ll be worth it. VW doesn’t dare mess with the GTI’s unbeatable formula, except this time, they’re throwing in a performance-oriented clean diesel engine. Sa-WEET!
Mini Cooper – the current Mini Cooper and its spin-offs were developed for the 2007 model year, so it’s time for a new one. Should be an evolution, not a revolution.
Mazda3 – not classically ‘premium’ but edging that direction. Mazda does well loading their models with new tech at an affordable price, though without the ambiance of a German. Excited to see what the next generation does to pull sales from other, more expensive models, some listed here.
I’m excited, because I like small, luxurious packages. I’ve commented on the extremes, but these are the everyday players you’ll see everywhere.
In my 26 1/2 years, I’ve learned that almost every car has some redeeming value, even if it isn’t what you would choose for everyday. As with my social life, I’m a loner. I like everything.
Spending the week (latest in a series of periods over the last year) in a friend’s big BMW boat has brought the WASP mom out in me (& I love it). I got to test-drive Paul’s new Subaru BRZ too, which is low-slung with a warbly engine, but by no means a cruiser.
Just getting my own new car, which is more retro, higher-powered, and less fuel-efficient than my previous, gives me some needed variation. Of course, I also learned how much cars cost…and how much I can actually afford (hard lesson, y’all).
So…new small premium models. Exciting! Cars in general, love ’em. How do I make driving them my job?!