First Look: 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
By Brandon Turkus
August 23, 2010
The Aston Martin Rapide, Porsche Panamera, Audi A7, Volkswagen CC, and to a lesser extent the BMW 5-Series GT all owe a large part of their existence to the success of the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Unveiled in 2004, the CLS was a segment buster, responsible for creating the four-door coupe craze that has been such a huge part of the luxury segment over the past six years. It has grown it bit long in the tooth though, so Mercedes is updating the CLS in time for the 2010 Paris Motor Show.
The first-generation CLS was a visual stunner, with an aggressively sloping fastback roof, peculiar L-shaped headlights, and a chopped-top profile. This next-generation model takes things up a notch. The roof slopes more aggressively into the trunk, which itself is at a steeper downward angle. LED headlights, in a more conventional shape, funnel design elements from the front fenders into the front fascia. The slightly trapezoidal grille looks like an extension of the strakes on the hood, and is reminiscent of recent Mercedes products. The front end is rounded out by a pair of LED running lights to the sides of the lower grille.
The profile view is dominated by three character lines. The first starts at the rear of the headlights and proceeds back at a slight downward angle, terminating just under the rear door handles. The second forms from the curve of the front wheel well and ends when it reaches the curve of the rear wheel well. Finally the third begins at the front of the taillights, and curves sharply over the rear wheel wells, terminating at the lower character line. The CLS’ dramatic design language seems to be a worthy successor to the first-generation model.
Mercedes hasn’t released any drivetrain information, but we can safely assume the current 5.5-liter V-8 will continue under the hood of the CLS550. Our press photos are of a CLS350, which could mean the 3.5-liter V-6 found in a variety of Mercedes models. For the enthusiasts, an AMG version is likely, possibly featuring a detuned version of the biturbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 found under the hood of the S63 AMG.
The 2012 CLS is set to debut at the Paris Motor Show, which begins October 2 and runs through October 17. Check back to here for all the coverage of the show.
Please scroll down for the official press release from Mercedes-Benz
The New CLS — The New Design Icon From Mercedes-Benz
World premiere at the 2010 Paris motor show
August 22, 2010
* The CLS brings refined performance to life
* Embodiement of the Mercedes-Benz brand values
* Athletic proportions, strong design language
* Expressive front design features central star in the grille
* Dynamic character line flowing back towards the rear
* Elegance with handcrafted details in the interior
A generation ahead: The CLS-Class created a new vehicle category in 2003 by combining the elegance and expressiveness of a coupé with the comfort and functionality of a sedan. The CLS delighted the public, astounded the competition and created a new style icon: for years the CLS has endured as the only four-door coupé in its class, and since October 2004 it has been the car of choice for around 170,000 buyers worldwide. "Customers all over the world benefited from our bold move to launch a completely new vehicle concept onto the market", explains a delighted Dr. Joachim Schmidt, member of the board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Sales & Marketing. "And with its exciting design, the new edition of the CLS also benefits from the fact that we are a whole generation ahead of the competition with our four-door Coupé."
Celebrating its world premiere at the Paris motor show (October 2 – 17, 2010), the 2012 CLS-Class builds on the pioneering role of its predecessor with a fresh new interpretation. "The new CLS points the way forward for the future perceptible design idiom of Mercedes-Benz", explains Professor Gorden Wagener, head of design at Mercedes-Benz. "At the same time it takes its inspiration from the great tradition of stylish, refined sportiness which has always been a feature of Mercedes coupés."
Exterior: classic Coupé styling with distinctive front
The proportions remain as spectacular as ever: long hood, tightly-styled frameless side windows and a dynamic roof sweeping back at an angle towards the rear. The four-door Coupé from Mercedes-Benz immediately made its mark in 2003 as a new style icon. Though the proportions are the same, the second generation of this design trendsetter has a completely new look.
What immediately strikes the eye is the innovative front design, which is reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Visually, the radiator grille is not integrated into the hood but formed separately. This further highlights the long, sporty hood. The grille is dominated by the large central star, which unites the car with other Mercedes-Benz coupés and also enhances brand identity. The large, elongated dark air inlets with black grilles also add to the vehicle's athletic appearance.
Design brings high-tech features to life
Another distinguishing feature comes in the form of the full LED headlamps, which are the world's first to offer all of the dynamic light functions using LED technology. This innovation boasts an impressive design - inside they are divided into three arrow-shaped layers from top to bottom: the upper layer contains an LED indicator, beneath which is a striking LED side light offers LED low beam functions. The side light can also be seen when the high beam is activated, thereby creating a unique night-time design. The lowest level of the headlamp houses the main beam and nightview functions. A total of 71 LED's provide an unmistakable appearance as well as a significantly enhanced view of the road compared with previous systems.
The typical CLS outline, with its elegantly long proportions, is the dominating attribute of the new model. The effect of the dynamic, athletic form has been enhanced with a new interplay of lines and surfaces. A unique “dropping line”, which begins above the front wheel-wells and slopes downward towards the rear, represents a new interpretation of a renowned design hallmark of historic Mercedes sports cars.
A distinctive and muscular sports car-like shoulder line above the rear axle highlights the athletic character of the 2012 CLS. The flared wheel arches resemble the powerful thighs of a feline predator waiting to pounce.
The side profile is rounded off with wide wrap-around tail lights featuring LED technology -- a linking element to the rear of the vehicle. The shape is emphasized by the broad shoulder line, which is clearly visible from behind and supports the flat roof. A wide metal insert adds a further visual highlight at the rear.
The interior: design brings quality to life
The interior of the 2012 CLS-Class is also distinguished by a timeless design which combines discreet elegance with innovative details and handcrafted perfection. The eye-catching cockpit features a wrap-around dashboard sweeping from the driver's door over the instrument panel support and across to the front passenger door. The central display has also been integrated seamlessly into the upper part of the instrument panel.
The CLS also lives up to its role as a design icon thanks to the innovative nature of the materials used, including a mixture of satin and high-gloss finishes used on the metal surfaces. Highlights also include matte galvanized air vents which ideally compliment a high-gloss-trimmed analogue clock.
Handcrafted perfection is reflected in details such as the stitched seat covers and dashboard. The individual parts of the leather dashboard are sewn together by hand in a process which takes several hours, after which they are fitted and upholstered with high-quality padding. Prior to this process, the leather is also heated to preshrink it, so that it will retain its shape even after extreme exposure to direct sunlight.
Around four animal skins are processed for each CLS. The particularly exclusive 1.6-millimetre thick semi-aniline premium leather meets the highest standards of both look and feel. The natural pore structure remains intact thanks to a light pigmentation, and the leather has an especially warm and soft feel to it. Premium leather requires a very precise manual selection process and therefore a high amount of raw leather.
The refined interior of the CLS is further reflected in the generous use of high-quality trim elements, located on the instrument panels, center console and door linings. Customers can choose between high-gloss brown burl walnut or high-gloss black ash. The wood has been perfectly fitted around difficult contours for a masterful handcrafted finish, and the wood trim has been matched according to grain as part of an sophisticated selection process to create a consistent overall impression.
For an even more progressive look, black piano lacquer or carbon fiber trim elements are also available. Handcrafted as well, up to seven layers are applied and polished for the piano lacquer trim until the high-gloss finish is achieved.