Mercedes-Benz is previewing an estate version of the new CLS at the Beijing motor show with this new concept: the Shooting Break.
The estate, outlined in detail by Autocar last month, is among a series of new design-led niche models designed to help build the firm's image.
Inspired by the traditional custom-built, two-door shooting brake, the Shooting Break will become a rival to the forthcoming Audi A7 and the BMW 5-series GT.
"The Shooting Break is based on a tradition of cultivated sportiness," said Gorden Wagener, chief designer at Mercedes-Benz. "At the same time it points the way towards the further development of the design idiom of Mercedes."
Officially Mercedes won't confirm production plans for the car, but documents seen by Autocar reveal it has already been given the internal codename X218. A Stuttgart insider commented, "We don't traditionally provide cars with codenames until they have been granted an official production go-ahead."
At 4960mm long, 1950mm wide and 1444mm tall, the concept car has the same basic dimensions as the forthcoming CLS saloon and is larger all round than the current CLS, with a longer wheelbase.
The most striking styling element of the new CLS is its gaping grille, a feature introduced on the recently launched SLS. Called 'soft nose', this treatment will be used across the Mercedes range in coming years.
The headlamps have 71 LED units, which work on dipped and main beam as well as the indicators; they will be an option on the new CLS.
While the low roofline and frameless doors are carried over from today's saloon, the door openings are larger than the current car's. This should help address criticism of the awkward entry into the car, particularly at the rear.
While the front end will be repeated on the saloon, the Shooting Break's rear is unique, with its heavily angled rear window, top-hinged tailgate and large, LED-enhanced tail-lights extending well into the rear wings.
The tailgate hinges from the trailing edge of the roof, revealing a flat load bay covered in a combination of dark oak and solid aluminium rubbing strips. Mercedes hasn't quoted a load capacity, though with stowage compartments down each side, it's clear the new concept is not going to challenge the E-class estate for outright space.
Inside, the Shooting Break showcases a plush oak and leather-lined cabin, but it also shows us what the cabin of the production CLS will look like.
Unique to the CLS, and not just a reworked E-class cabin, it retains the theme established by the current car, with a centre console that extends through the middle of the individual rear seats. To keep costs in check, the production version will be toned down slightly and receive switchgear from the E-class.
Based on the same rear-wheel-drive platform and chassis as the new CLS saloon itself a development of the E-class platform, but with marginally wider track widths for a more aggressive stancem the CLS Shooting Break also provides the first official clues to a new range of V6 and V8 petrol engines.
Developed under the internal name of MoVE, they will be unveiled in the facelifted CL this August, when the car will be renamed as the S-class coupe.
All the engines come with low-pressure turbocharging and direct injection, designed to improve the lean-burn combustion and thermal properties.
These technologies help to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by a claimed 25 per cent compared with Mercedes-Benz's current naturally aspirated V6 and V8 engines.
The unit fitted to the CLS Shooting Break is a 3.5-litre V6 delivering 306bhp. It is among two petrol engines Mercedes plans to make available in the CLS. The other is a new 4.6-litre V8 that has the same twin-turbocharged and direct injection developments, and produces a claimed 435bhp.
They will be joined by two existing common-rail diesels: a twin-turbo 2.1-litre, four-cylinder unit with 204bhp and a single-turbo 3.0-litre V6 with 231bhp.
All engines will be mated to an upgraded version of Mercedes' 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic gearbox, modified to include a new stop-start function. Further fuel-saving tech will include brake energy regeneration and a decoupling alternator.
Also planned, and due in the UK in March 2011, is a CLS63 AMG. This will have a new turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine, which replaces the existing naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8. It kicks out 544bhp, an increase of 30bhp on today's model, but an even more powerful version of the same engine will be offered as part of a performance package upgrade with 571bhp.