DETROIT — Fancy nameplates in the auto business are prepping for a bruising battle for buyers of entry-level luxury sport sedans.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, the Germans and Japanese showed a flurry of new lower-end luxury models, which analysts say have big growth potential among cost- and efficiency-minded buyers who still want nicely appointed performance sedans.
The new crop includes redesigned versions of the Lexus IS line, the first Mercedes-Benz front-wheel-drive sedan for the U.S. market, Infiniti’s Q50 replacement for its G37 sedan and a BMW 320i, priced about 10% below where the current 3-Series line starts. Those join the previously launched Cadillac ATS, a rear-wheel-drive 3-series fighter already making waves and winning awards.
“We see a worldwide trend to smaller engines and smaller cars, even in the luxury market,” said Herbert Diess, a member of BMW’s Board of Management.