Autos

Mercedes woos millennials with redesigned entry-level coupe at NY auto show

Key Points
  • Mercedes is showing off two redesigned coupes at the New York International Auto Show: the 2020 CLA 35 AMG and 2020 GLC coupe.
  • Launched in 2013, the CLA-Class preceded the A-Class as Mercedes' entry-level model in the U.S. market.
  • It had a starting price of under $30,000 at launch.
  • Sales have declined since the peak of 29,643 units in 2015 to 22,556 last year.
VIDEO1:0701:07
Mercedes' latest models made for millennials

Mercedes is showing off two redesigned coupes at this week's New York International Auto Show, which opens to the public Friday, with the 2020 CLA 35 AMG and 2020 GLC coupe making their global debuts.

With the new models sharing floor space at the show with Mercedes' own A-class sedan for the first time, Mercedes is investing in its entry-level products to woo millennials and other first-time luxury buyers lusting after an affordable option with a Mercedes badge.

The CLA-Class is Mercedes' most affordable coupe, based on the redesigned Mercedes A-Class. Launched in 2013, the CLA-Class preceded the A-Class as Mercedes' entry-level model in the U.S. market, with a starting price of under $30,000 at launch. Sales have declined since the peak of 29,643 units in 2015 to 22,556 last year.

The new CLA 35 is the faster, more exciting version of the entry-level coupe, tuned by the company's AMG performance division. It makes 305 horsepower from a four-cylinder turbocharged engine, which routes power to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 4MATIC, Kraftstoffverbrauch
Handout/Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG says the CLA 35 will spring to 60 in 4.6 seconds. The AMG model also comes with cosmetic hints at its performance mission, with sport wheels, power bulges on the hood and more aggressive styling on the front bumper, side skirts and rear diffuser.

It also gets the new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) infotainment system, replacing the automaker's older COMAND multimedia interface. In addition to visual and performance upgrades over COMAND, MBUX offers a "Hey Mercedes" function that allows drivers to control infotainment, climate controls and more.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé (C253), AMG Line, 2019
Handout/Mercedes

The GLC coupe — a fastback version of the company's GLC SUV — also receives a fresh interior with MBUX integration. The new model, which premiers in New York, is a refreshed version of the GLC coupe that debuted for the 2017 model year.

Besides MBUX, changes are mild. The GLC coupe receives updated lights, a restyled diffuser, a new interior color and an updated engine. While the current GLC 300 coupe offers 241 horsepower from its turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the updated motor will produce 255 horsepower.

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 4MATIC, Kraftstoffverbrauch
Handout/Mercedes

Mercedes wants to keep the GLC fresh, as the model has become increasingly important to the folks at its headquarters in Stuggart, Germany. Not only was the GLC-Class the best selling Mercedes in 2018, but it was also the company's fastest-growing vehicle last year. Sales ballooned 43.3% last year, from 48,643 to 69,727. Mercedes does not break out individual sales of the GLC coupe compared with the traditional GLC crossover, but we know that GLC coupes carry higher price tags that help pad the profit margins.

Pricing information for the CLA 35 and GLC coupe has not yet been announced. The current GLC coupe starts at $47,300 for a GLC 300 coupe, and pricing for the AMG GLC 63 S coupe rises to over $100,000.

The 2019 CLA-Class is offered in CLA 250 and AMG CLA 45 guise, so there is no direct parallel to the 2020 AMG CLA 35 on sale. The CLA 250 starts at $33,100 and the AMG CLA 45 starts at $53,100, so expect pricing to fall somewhere in that range when Mercedes announces it later this year.

The Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 4MATIC, Kraftstoffverbrauch
Handout/Mercedes

Besides the new debuts, Mercedes is also bringing a selection of current models to New York for the U.S. audience. They'll have the full mainline sedan lineup on display, with the A-Class, C-Class, E-Class and S-Class on the show floor at the Javits Convention Center. Same for the SUVs, as the GLA, GLC, GLE, GLS, and G-CLass will be in New York.

Fans of four-door coupes can see the CLA, CLS and AMG GT, while convertible shoppers will have a chance to sit in the SLC-Class and SL-Class droptops. Finally, if you're looking for a commercial or utility vehicle, the Metris and Sprinter vans will be around.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé (C253), AMG Line, 2019
Handout/Mercedes