In September 2013 Mercedes released the compact CLA for $29,900. It was the first "affordable" Benz since the C coupe that Mercedes would much rather forget about. That sub $30k price was a hook to get new lessees into the dealership, and it worked. Just fifteen months later Mercedes quietly raised the price.

According to Automotive News, the base price of a 2015 CLA250 has crept up 5 percent to $31,500, plus $925 for shipping. A CLA250 with 4matic all-wheel-drive is now $34,425. As of now Mercedes has not updated prices on their website. But the sub-$30k price tag never really mattered in terms of sales, it was just a tool to get buyers who normally would not consider a Mercedes due to the cost to now put it on their shopping list.

When the CLA first hit the lots numerous customers came to me asking to get a "deal" on a $29k CLA. I had to explain that a car with that price has really no options and finding one on the lot was not going to be easy. Few dealers would stock base CLAs because the reality was few people actually bought these things, the vast majority of them were leased. For most people this is what matters -

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As I've discussed with most luxury leases these "teaser" rates often for lower end cars with very specific equipment. According to Mercedes' website if you wanted a CLA lease for $329/mo you would have to get a car configured as follows.

Advertised 36 months lease payment based on MSRP of $33,925 less the suggested dealer contribution resulting in a total gross capitalized cost of $33,925. Dealer contribution may vary and could affect your actual lease payment. Includes Destination Charge, Premium 1 Package, Becker MAP PILOT® Pre-Wiring and Becker MAP PILOT®.

According to Cars.com there are only 738 CLA250 units nationwide out of almost 3000. So finding those "cheap" leases may be a bit of a challenge. Often what happens is a buyer will go tot the lot with a number in their head. They find out that in reality the lease is a bit more expensive. Some of them will give up and get a cheaper car, but some will pony up the extra cash to drive a Mercedes.

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So you can no longer get a CLA for under thirty grand, but most folks couldn't find a lease for 329/mo. This nothing more than a classic marketing trick to make people believe they can afford something that they really can't.

If you have a question, a tip, or something you would like to to share about car-buying, drop me a line at AutomatchConsulting@gmail.com and be sure to include your Kinja handle.