Mercedes-Benz Reveals 2012 CLS Four-Door Coupe
By Chris Haak
Several weeks prior to its formal introduction at the 2011 Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz has released a flotilla of images of the second-generation of its trendsetting CLS four-door coupe. Much to segment-inventing BMW’s chagrin, Mercedes invented the four-door coupe segment back in 2004, and has done pretty well in that pole position ever since. Numerous imitators have sprung forth, including the Hyundai Sonata, Volkswagen CC, Audi A7, Aston Martin Rapide, and even the forthcoming BMW Gran Sport four-door coupe.
The original CLS was based on the contemporary (W211) E-Class platform, but tilted the form/function continuum far toward the “form” end of the scale, to the detriment of some passenger space, particularly in the rear seat area. It was a 2+2 with a console between the rear seats, and the teardrop roofline cut into rear seat headroom compared with its more practical E-Class cousin. And yet, in testament to the design of the original W219 CLS, any competitors in the space either don’t look as good, or look like obvious imitations. The now seven year old design still looks fresh on the eve of its replacement.
And this replacement looks like a CLS, yet also discards some of the original car’s elegant flowing lines and replaces them with the current severe, Germanic design language used in the C-, E-, and GLK-Class vehicles. The greenhouse design is very similar in the new car, but the car’s flanks adopt much more character, with an extremely prominent bulge over the rear wheels. The front of the car continues the long-hood proportions of the previous car, and boasts a giant three-pointed star at the center of the grille. Mercedes says that its front looks a little like the SLS AMG supercar. We can kind of see that. One trick feature of the 2012 CLS is that the all-LED headlamps boast 71 LED elements. The extremely vertical front end looks out of place against the rest of the sleek car; we can thank pedestrian-impact requirements for that disharmony.
Inside, the interior is all-new, and goes beyond the levels of design, comfort, and luxury seen in the 2010 E-Class, which is fitting considering that the car will be slotted between the E-Class and S-Class in terms of lineup position and pricing. The dashboard and seats are handcrafted, and satin- and gloss-finish wood is used selectively to lend a premium feel to the cabin. Attention to detail abounds, such as grain-matching the wood trim for a consistent line across the car.
Mercedes-Benz did not confirm any powertrains, but we can expect that the 2012 CLS will continue offering V6 and V8 options, plus diesels in Europe (potentially in the US). It’s likely that in the US, we’ll see the direct injection 3.5 liter V6, good for roughly 300 horsepower, as the base engine, and a roughly 430 horsepower 4.6 liter twin turbo V8 in the CLS550 model. A twin-turbocharged 5.5 liter CLS63 AMG will produce prodigious power and torque; this engine makes 536 horsepower and a staggering 590 lb-ft of torque in the CL63 AMG.
The car goes on sale in the US in mid-2011. Additional details, including actual (non-speculative) information about the powertrains will be provided in October at the Paris show.