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Staid Mercedes targets youth with small coupe

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Staid Mercedes targets youth with small coupe

German auto giant Daimler is taking aim at the youth market with the compact — and lower priced — Mercedes CLA coupe, unveiled at this week's Detroit auto show.

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Normally attracting the established over-50 set as customers, the carmaker is hoping to tap a younger demographic with the CLA's sleek silhouette, frameless doors, and its sporty, muscular looking grill.

"The CLA is a style rebel," Mercedes design chief Gordon Wagener said. "The dynamic design idiom is manifested in breath-taking proportions, muscular, flowing contours and sculptural surfaces."

The interior offers all the high-tech gadgets and luxurious features customers expect from a Mercedes, like a multimedia console that seamlessly integrates with the iPhone.

The powerful engine, smooth suspension and four-wheel drive also promise agility and gusto for younger drivers.

It will also be outfitted with the latest in collision prevention, including drowsiness detection, a radar that warns drivers of obstacles even at very slow speeds, and will initiate braking if the driver is distracted.

"With the new CLA-class, we will open a completely new gateway to the Mercedes brand," Mercedes sales chief Joachim Schmidt told reporters. "Our goal is to repeat the success story of the CLS in a new segment."

The CLA is aimed at both the youth market and the "young at heart" who value "trendy and high-class design, quality and refinement and personal expression through authentic brands," Schmidt said.

Set to hit US dealerships in April, Daimler will launch an advertising blitz — and announce the price — during the Superbowl on February 3, which is being held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

The vehicle will be sold worldwide and Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche said it will be a "great car" for China and will also do well in other parts of Asia and Europe.

AFP/The Local/mry

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