Once taken as the strict definition of a two-door, the term 'coupe' these days have become rather loosely applied to a myriad of vehicles. Any car with a fastback-type rear end now lays claim to be a coupe, and it was arguably the original Mercedes-Benz CLS that played a huge role in starting this renaissance. It wasn't the first four-door vehicle styled as such, but Mercedes was the earliest and most successful in its marketing efforts in gaining public acceptance of the four-door coupe concept.
An all-new version of the CLS debuts at the Los Angeles International Motor Show and is dubbed by Mercedes as the ‘third generation of the original’. The second-generation CLS, to recap, was introduced in 2011.
As with the original, the mechanical underpinnings of this vehicle is taken from the concurrent E-Class but clothed in more curvaceous metal defined by a low-slung rear roofline and complete with frameless door windows.
The front and rear fascia, however, departs significantly from the evolutionary template set by its W219 (1st gen) and W218 (2nd gen) predecessors. Most notably, the headlights are now flat, curve upwards, and narrow outwards, whilst at the rear, the number plate moves to the bumper and the tail lights are now the wide two-section items that is the newly-adopted family look of all Mercedes coupes.
In short, the overall silhouette is family CLS, but the details have been vastly revamped to bring the four-door coupe’s styling in line with the rest of the coupe range.
Inside, the superlative yet familiar cabin of the E-Class underpins the all-new CLS’ interior. The dashboard, by and large, is identical, receiving the distinctive ‘jet turbine’ air con vents from the E-Class Coupe and a new multi-function steering wheel straight from the S-Class facelift.
Amazingly, the hi-res widescreen cockpit, which houses two 12.3-inch displays beneath one seamless housing is offered not as standard, but merely as an option. We can’t imagine any well-heeled buyers of the CLS not wanting to check this box. In any case, expect it to come standard in the Malaysian market when the car arrives here.
Mercedes states that the CLS’ seats are unique to the car and not taken from the E-Class. The rear seats are designed to mimic the appearance of the front seats, giving the impression of a strict four-seater although, for the first time ever, the CLS is full-fledged five-seater, complete with 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats to extend its surprisingly practical 520-litre boot volume – a mere 20 litres down from the E-Class sedan.
Engines powering the CLS are all-new, and they start with a trio of inline-six engines from Mercedes-Benz’s newly-developed range of modular powertrains. Two diesel variants are powered by the same 2.9-litre engine in different states of tune, whilst the 3.0-litre petrol flagship variant is boosted by a 48V mild hybrid system. All three engines come standard with 9-speed automatic transmissions and 4Matic all-wheel drive.
- CLS 350d 4Matic: 2.9-litre OM656 turbodiesel, 286 hp, 600 Nm
- CLS 400d 4Matic: 2.9-litre OM656 turbodiesel, 340 hp, 700 Nm
- CLS 450 4Matic: 3.0-litre M256 turbo petrol, 367 hp, 500 Nm
The CLS 450’s EQ Boost integrated starter/generator supplies an additional 22 hp and 250 Nm of assist in short bursts, helping the engine along when accelerating as well as enabling it to shut off more smoothly under coasting, thereby helping it achieve better efficiency. That being said, the diesels remain more efficient when tested under NEDC protocol – both the 350d and 400d returning 5.6 litres/100km on the combined cycle versus 7.5 litres/100km for the petrol model.
As usual with recent Mercedes launches, early adopters of the CLS have the option of picking the limited-run Edition 1 trim offering a number of extra standard features over the regular model. The car is finished inside out based on AMG Line trim and is recognizable by the ‘Edition 1’ lettering on the front fenders.
Edition 1 trim is available with all engine variants of the CLS, and whilst production is not limited by number of units, it is available only within the first year of its launch.