The upcoming Mercedes CLS estate will take inspiration from the classic shooting brake format.
The new wagon, conceived as a modern-day interpretation of the shooting brake, is set to be revealed in concept car form at next month’s Beijing motor show. Although billed as a concept, it will be extremely close to the production version that has already been signed off.
Mercedes will also announce production plans for the new car, with a UK on-sale date of 2012 and a price of around £50,000.
The CLS estate is part of a broader plan to diversify the Mercedes line-up, with a range of niche cars adapted from more mainstream models and designed to appeal to a younger customer base than those on sale today.
More style statement than load-hauler, the CLS estate is set to provide buyers with an alternative to the BMW 5-series GT and the soon-to-be-launched Audi A7 - both of which have a conventional hatchback.
“Traditional rules don’t apply any more. Established segments are becoming increasingly fragmented,” said a Mercedes insider with knowledge of plans for the marketing of the new car.
The estate shares its front-end looks with the new CLS saloon. But from the B-pillar rearwards it receives its own individual styling.
As revealed in Autocar’s exclusive computer-generated image, the look of the new car is highly reminiscent of Mercedes-Benz’s well received Fascination concept from the 2008 Paris motor show. But while that car had pillarless construction with two doors, the CLS estate will retain the B-pillar and four-door layout of the saloon.
By providing the CLS with additional boot space, Mercedes-Benz hopes to attract customers who may have otherwise opted for a car such as the Audi A6 Avant or the new BMW 5-series Touring.
The idea for an estate version of the CLS is not entirely new. Mercedes’ designers created a similar concept in 2003 but, despite a great deal of internal support, it was never displayed in public. It ultimately became a victim of the company’s cost-saving CORE programme.
Before the CLS estate arrives we’ll see the successor to the current saloon. Seen in our spy pictures (overleaf) undergoing testing in final prototype form, it’s due to be unveiled at the Paris motor show in September.
Codenamed C218, the new CLS sits on the same underpinnings as the current E-class, with a 20mm longer wheelbase than today’s model along with a corresponding increase in length, taking it to around 4950mm. But as with the first-gen CLS, the new car is more about style than interior space.
It borrows heavily from the current CLS, with a distinctive front end carrying hints of the soft-nose treatment from the SLS, plus frameless doors, heavily raked screens, a high waistline and shallow side glass.
But while the overall silhouette is familiar, the surfacing gains a much tauter look in line with recent Mercedes-Benz models, including the F800 Style concept.
And the CLS will be among the first Mercedes-Benz models to receive the firm’s new turbocharged, direct-injection V6 and V8 petrol engines.