Mercedes has unveiled its all-new CLS at the Paris motor show, which is due to go on sale in the UK next March.
It replaces the car that’s credited with creating the ‘four-door coupé’ segment of the market, and spawning models like the Audi A7 and the Volkswagen Passat CC. Mercedes sold more than 170,000 examples of the original car, which was launched in 2004.
The new CLS has been styled under the guidance of new Mercedes design chief Gorden Wagener. It sits on a modified version of the current E-class floorpan, with wider tracks to help give it a more aggressive stance.
Mercedes has not released official dimensions, but the car is wider and longer than the outgoing model, and wider but lower than the E-class saloon.
The most dominant styling feature is a new front-end treatment that will be phased in across Mercedes’ range over the next few years.
Described by Merc insiders as a “soft nose”, it features a gaping grille that’s similar to the item already introduced on the SLS. Mercedes says the grille treatment – which sits separate from the engine cover – helps to make the bonnet look longer.
At either side of the grille, the CLS will be offered with optional headlight units made up entirely from LEDs. Each set-up contains 71 LEDs, which work on dipped and main beam, sidelights and indicators.
The CLS’s flanks feature the same rear wheel arch bulge as the current E-class. The single, uninterrupted crease that ran from nose to tail on the old car is replaced by a line that falls from above the front wheel arch to the middle of the rear door.
Mercedes is said to have used the new car’s longer wheelbase to improve access to the rear cabin, a bugbear of the original CLS. But once inside, the new car remains true to the original’s principle of being a strict four-seater.
The dashboard is an evolution of the current E-class design, with more flashes of chrome around the main dials and metal-finish buttons, and an analogue clock mounted in the centre of the fascia. Five interior colours, five trim designs and three grades of leather will be offered.
Mercedes has not yet confirmed the engine line-up, but expect the firm’s new range of V6 and V8 petrol powerplants, called Move, to feature strongly.
The six-pot gets revised direct injection, a narrow-angle block and stop-start tech, improving fuel economy over the old V6 by as much as 24 per cent.
A 4.7-litre V8 replaces the outgoing 5.4-litre unit by adding twin turbochargers. It has almost a third more torque, and 12 per cent more power, as well as improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
The diesel options will be Mercedes’ latest 3.0-litre common-rail V6 engine, with 231bhp, and the CLS250 CDI, equipped with a 2.1-litre, twin-turbocharged four-cylinder unit. All of the engines will be mated to Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The new CLS range is also set to feature an estate variant alongside the regular four-door car. Mercedes chose to preview the new model with the Shooting Break concept in Beijing earlier this year – and that show car is likely to make it into production by the end of next year.
Autocar understands that the CLS wagon already has an internal name: X218. An insider told us, “We don’t traditionally provide cars with codenames until they have been granted an official production go-ahead.”
The Shooting Break is just shy of five metres long — slightly longer than the E-class estate but almost 10cm lower. That reduction in height, and the steeply raked rear window, would mean a significant reduction in cargo capacity from the E-class’s cavernous 1950 litres.