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Detroit auto show: Entry-level luxury sedan competition heats up

January 15, 2013|By David Undercoffler
  • The all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 will be the first front-wheel-drive car sold by Mercedes in the U.S. in decades. It has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four cylinder engine that makes 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque.
The all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 will be the first front-wheel-drive… (David Undercoffler / Los…)

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.

FULL COVERAGE: 2013 Detroit Auto Show

“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.

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