A new image shows that the upcoming Audi A7 and Porsche Panamera rival's design has taken an evolutionary approach, with new light signatures and a slightly sharper look applied to a familiar, swept-back bodyshape.
Here's what we know so far:
Mercedes CLS styling
We’re told the CLS has grown beyond the 4940mm length, 1880mm width and 1420mm height of the outgoing second-generation CLS, which has been on sale since 2010.
CLS Project Leader Michael Kelz has recently divulged to Autocar during a prototype CLS drive that the third-generation model boasts a drag coefficient of 0.27. This is somewhat short of the 0.23 of the latest E-class, though it is said to be achieved with near-to-zero lift without the necessity to equip the new model with an active spoiler like that used by Audi on its new second-generation A7.
"The big challenge is the sloping rear end, which remains a key styling characteristic. It hinders efforts to create downforce. To provide a suitable balance between stability and drag, we’ve incorporated some special aerodynamic solutions within the undertray,” he said.
In the interests of weight saving, the outer body is made predominately from aluminium, including the bonnet, fenders and boot lid. As with the E-class, though, the four doors are all fashioned from steel.
Mercedes-Benz claims the frameless design of the doors, a design element brought over from the previous two generations of the CLS, brings advantages in refinement, with the rubber sealing around the top of the windows said to offer more aerodynamic properties than that of framed doors.
“They’re quieter at speed than the doors we use on the E-class,” said Kelz. “The difference is not great, but our tests have shown there is less buffeting with the frameless design, especially at highway speeds.”
Mercedes CLS interior
The CLS is no longer as uniquely styled nor quite as eye-catching as those found in previous incarnations of the German saloon, which boasted their own uniquely styled facia.
In a bid to provide the new model with additional economies of scale with other Mercedes-Benz models in a bid to lower development, component sourcing and production costs, it also receives a lightly reworked version of the latest E-class’s dashboard, complete with a so-called Widescreen Cockpit with twin 12.3-inch displays for the instruments and infotainment system.
There’s also a new multi-function steering wheel borrowed from the facelifted S-class. The new turbine air vents from the recently introduced E-class coupe are also adopted, but in a first for the CLS they glow either blue or red depending on the temperature at which the air conditioning is set.
Kelz said: “We have provided it with all the technical features and options already offered on the latest E- and S-class models. This is important in markets such as China, where buyers place a big emphasis on luxury,” he said. “But the CLS is also considered a more sporting alternative to both of them in other markets. In Europe, it’s seen as a driver’s car, and this has played a key role in its development.”
In the rear, there’s now a dedicated centre seat position between two more heavily sculptured positions in a three-across bench. “We’ve received feedback from earlier CLS buyers requesting a fifth seat. Its inclusion is part of our efforts to provide the new model with greater everyday practicality,” says Kelz.
The new saloon also benefits from the adoption of a 61mm longer wheelbase at 4988mm, with the upshot that there are now larger rear door apertures and, in combination with a corresponding increase in width, greater accommodation up back. Boot space has also increased over the second-generation model, according to Kelz, giving the new CLS greater cargo lugging qualities than ever before.
Mercedes CLS powertrains
When the new model hits showrooms next year, it will come with the choice of a limited range of four- and six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines – all in combination with Mercedes-Benz’s nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox as standard. Buyers will also get to choose between standard rear-wheel drive or optional 4Matic four-wheel drive on a number of models.
The petrol units feature Mercedes-Benz’s new EQ Power system, providing them with mild hybrid properties, relying on a newly developed 48-volt electric system.
Kicking off the line-up is the CLS350. It runs the latest evolution of Mercedes-Benz’s M264 petrol engine developing 295bhp and 295lb ft of torque. Next up is the CLS450, which receives Mercedes-Benz’s new M256 designated turbocharged and electronically supercharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine with 362bhp and 369lb ft.
Topping the petrol line-up in the absence of plans for a successor to today’s CLS63 will be the CLS53. Set to be unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January 2018, it is planned to run an AMG-tuned version of the M256 turbocharged and electronic supercharged 2.9-litre six-cylinder petrol engine used by the CLS450 with a claimed 429bhp and over 443lb ft.
Also planned from the outset of UK sales are a range of diesel models. They start with the CLS300d, which runs Mercedes-Benz’s existing OM654 designated turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine, as used across the Mercedes-Benz line-up, with 228bhp and 332lb ft.
A more powerful diesel in the form of the all-new OM656 will also be available. Recently unveiled in the facelifted S-class, the turbocharged 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder is set to kick out 282bhp and 443lb ft in the CLS350d and, in a higher state of tune, some 335bhp and 516lb ft in the CLS400d.
The CLS will also have a host of new technology. Thise includes some of the the semi-autonomous driving technology of the E-Class, including Speed Limit Pilot, which automatically adjusts the speed of the vehicle in relation to posted speed limits, and Active Lane Change Assist, which is able to autonomously perform a lane change.
The infotainment software and menus will all be related to those featured in the E-Class, with the image of the car's interior showing that the dashboard will also feature a near identical layout for its vents and centre console.
The Shooting Brake estate version of the CLS is expected to be dropped due to low demand. Only 750 CLS Shooting Brakes were sold in the UK last year.
Additional reporting by Greg Kable