When launched in 2004, the Mercedes-Benz CLS was a breath of fresh air within the four-door luxury sedan class. In fact, Stuttgart coined a new term for the car, calling it a four-door coupe, with many other automakers following suite, including BMW which created the 6-Series Gran Coupe as a direct competitor to the CLS.
Seven years later, in 2011, we saw the introduction of the current, second-generation CLS, which retained the coupe theme, but muscled-up the styling.
Now time has come for the German luxury brand to introduce a third-generation. So let’s take an illustrated preview at what to expect:
Elegant, yet powerful styling:
Inspired by the AMG GT, the front-end takes on a more aggressive approach; cue a large and angry-looking grille, forward-leaning headlights and a dominant lower intake that looks ready to inhale anything in its path.
The view from the sides is perhaps a little more restrained than the out-going car, Here, the character lines are straighter and more elegant. On the original CLS, the droopy rear was likened to that of ill-fated, Australian AU Ford Falcon of the late 1990’s. No such hint of that this time round as the rear is squatter, with Audi-like, horizontal tail-lamps leading into the trunk-lid.
Under the skin:
Based on the versatile MRA platform, the CLS shares its underpinnings with the current E-Class. However it does appear to be wider and longer – helping to improve occupant space and accommodating its staunch, yet elegant new look.
Another benefit of the new platform, is the availability of either rear or all-wheel-drive and plug-in hybrid options. Fans of the inline six can rejoice; expect the volume seller to have a 3.0-litre, turbocharged straight-six and a 9-speed automatic.
AMG enthusiasts will not be forgotten either, with two levels of potency in CLS50 and the full-fruit CLS63 guises. Borrowed from the AMG E63 S, the latter’s twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8 will be brutally fast producing 603 ponies.
The other good bits:
There had been speculation Mercedes-Benz may drop the CLS nomenclature in favor of ‘CLE’, as part of a streamlined naming strategy. The reason for change was that the CLS is technically an E-Class in different clothes, however recent conjecture suggests the CLS nameplate holds too much weight to abandon.
Unfortunately what has been culled is the gorgeous shooting-brake variant – we can only hope it reappears at a later date.
When it debuts in 2018 as a MY2019 model, the CLS will immediately walk into a dog fight with Audi’s all-new A7 and RS7 variants. BMW will also be ready and waiting too – albeit with its odder-looking, but way more practical 6-Series GT.