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Are Bright Paint Colors Making a Comeback?

In the 1970s, BMW dealership lots were sprinkled with Inka Orange, Golf Yellow and Granada Red 2002 coupes. Thirty years later, the presence of a BMW not swathed in one of the grays, silvers, whites and blacks that make up the German rainbow makes headlines. Well, at least here on Autotrader/Oversteer.

It looks like that could change — at least for BMW’s cross-country Teutonic rivals. Mercedes-Benz and Audi now offer no-cost bright colors on two of their newest models, a move that removes any financial justification from not buying a CLA-Class painted Sun Yellow or an Q3 painted Pulse Orange. Other car manufacturers generally charge for bright colors, though Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has long offered the widest palette of hues. Shame there’s no Go Mango orange Chrysler Pacifica. Opportunity missed.

Amazingly, it looks Mercedes and Audi dealers are even willing to stock these bright cars. I found 50 brand new Sun Yellow CLAs listed on Autotrader. Here’s a yellow CLA 250 4Matic in Denver and here’s a yellow front-wheel-drive (FWD) CLA 250 in the San Fernando Valley.

I only found about a dozen Pulse Orange Q3s, which may indicate that they sell faster (I hope) or perhaps that Audi is more bearish about bright colors. Still, I saw one on the road the other day, and it made me exceedingly happy. Here’s one that I hope our Doug DeMuro will buy since it’s near him in San Diego.

Neither Audi nor Mercedes has as much fun with the rest of their lineups. Bright colors are generally relegated to red except on performance models, and there’s almost always a $600 to $1,500 upcharge.

That’s not true for Volkswagen. There’s nothing extra to pay for a Kurkuma Yellow Metallic Arteon or Atlas, and the $295 charged for a Habanero Orange Jetta doesn’t seem too outrageous.

Mercedes’ last trial with a fun color on a mainstream model wasn’t a hit. The GLA-Class was offered in Kryptonite Green — sort of a toned-down version of the Nurburgring-inspired Hell Green Magno offered on the AMG GT — but the color was dropped for 2019. Want one and willing to pay the $750 upcharge? You’re in luck. One with just 13 miles on the clock is on offer at a Mercedes dealer in Louisiana.

Here’s to hoping that these bright colors take off.

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Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz is an author specializing in helping in-market consumers get the most bang for their buck -- and the best car, while they're at it. When not virtually shopping for new and used cars, Andrew can probably be found under the hood of a vintage classic that's rapidly losing fluids.

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