CLS show car provides best view yet of production model
17 September 2003

Mercedes has finally revealed its CLS – a swoopy new four-door saloon-cum-coupé due to arrive late next year with a base price around £40,000.
Based on lightly modified E-Class underpinnings, the CLS slots into the Merc strata between the CLK and CL to fight BMW’s 6-series, the Jaguar XK8 and Audi Nuvolari.
Although this CLS is labelled a Vision – Mercedes parlance for concept car – it will go on sale virtually unchanged. ‘The show car is highly representative of what we intend to build. Only detailed features will be modified,’ Mercedes boss Jurgen Hubbert told Autocar at the Frankfurt motor show.
Bucking the coupé trend towards rear-hinged doors, the CLS’s long rear doors open in a conventional manner – hinging at the front on a strengthened side member. The B-pillar is retained, though clever styling tricks – darkened panelling on the pillars and tight shut lines between the doors – give it an almost pillarless appearance. The doors are also frameless.
Longer and wider than the E-class, though with the same wheelbase, production versions will come with a wide range of V6 and V8 powerplants, as well as Mercedes’s new seven-speed automatic. Mercedes has also engineered the CLS to accept its 4Matic four-wheel drive system.

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