In just it first three months on the market, the Audi A3 managed to outsell its main rival in the market for luxury cars having a base tag of below $30,000. According to researcher Autodata Corp., the A3 outsold the Mercedes-Benz CLA entry-level coupe almost 2 to 1. Automotive News data shows that In June, Audi sold 2,452 A3s in the United States while Mercedes sold only 1,658 CLAs.
Mercedes-Benz sales fell in seven of the past eight months, a sharp contrast from 2013 when the model pushed Mercedes to dominate the US luxury car maker. Michelle Krebs, an analyst at AutoTrader.com, told Bloomberg in an interview that the CLA’s selling point back then was that it was the only luxury model priced below $30,000, but now there is something to compare it to.
She said that based on comparison tests, the A3 is “coming out on top by a long stretch” against the CLA. Entry-level luxury models are considered as an important market since they could be used to target young drivers who have the potential to become brand loyalists who would eventually be more than willing to spend six-figure amount for a top-of-the-line sedan.
Jesse Toprak, an analyst at Cars.com remarked that carmakers could use entry-level models to get young buyers when their brand preference is still being formed and then keep them as they earn more money and upgrade.
Such move to offer entry-level luxury models is considered risky since that might lead customers to lose their perception of premium brands, as they are bound to compare those units with mainstream models.