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2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS – Click above for high-res image gallery

It seems like every automaker wants to have a "four-door coupe" in its lineup these days. Hyundai has its rakish new Sonata, Volkswagen has the stylish CC and BMW has reportedly given its Gran Coupe concept the go-ahead for production. This is certainly one of the hottest automotive design trends of recent memory, but we must remember that it all started with the Mercedes-Benz CLS back in 2004. The folks from Stuttgart told us that coupes can have more than two doors (though we're still not 100 percent behind that idea), and the CLS quickly became one of the most stylish four-door vehicles on the market. Even today, the original CLS bodystyle still looks fresh, modern and sexy.

Recently, we came across some leaked shots of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS, showing the stylish new design that will be unveiled at this year's Paris Motor Show. Now we have the official images direct from the manufacturer, and this car is even more beautiful in full high-res glory. The new headlight design is quite striking, and the CLS uses a full-LED setup, with a total of 71 bulbs making up the main headlamps, running lamps, turn signals and side lamps. We're really anxious to see what this looks like in person with the sun below the horizon.
Even today, the original CLS still looks fresh, modern and sexy.

Inside, a new three-spoke sport steering wheel is on hand, and the CLS now uses a column-mounted gear selector similar to that in the higher-end CL and S-Class cars. The rest of the interior mixes luxurious appointments with modern style, and the end result is something that not only looks sporty and elegant, but immensely comfortable and cozy.

We don't have official word about powertrains, but expect the CLS to be offered with two different gas engines when it goes on sale in North America in mid-2011. An all-new direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 is anticipated to be the base engine in the CLS350, while CLS550 models will reportedly receive a twin-turbo 4.6-liter V8 good for around 430 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Of course, a CLS AMG will come shortly thereafter, packing lordly amounts of power.

We'll have the official specs closer to the car's scheduled unveiling in Paris, but for now, you can read what Mercedes-Benz has to say about the CLS in the press release after the jump and scroll through the gallery below for a few high-res shots of the svelte new Benz.

[Source: Mercedes-Benz]
Show full PR text
The new CLS - the new design icon from Mercedes-Benz

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 competi-tion 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 approximately 170,000 buyers worldwide. "Customers all over the world benefited from our bold move to launch a completely new vehicle con-cept onto the market", explains a delighted Dr. Joachim Schmidt, member of the board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Sales & Marketing. "And with its exciting de-sign, 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 will arrive in U.S. dealerships in mid-2011. The 2012 CLS-Class builds on the pioneering role of its predecessor with a fresh new inter-pretation. "The new CLS points the way forward for the future perceptible de-sign idiom of Mercedes-Benz", explains Professor Gorden Wagener, head of de-sign 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 frame-less 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 remi-niscent of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Visually, the radiator grille is not inte-grated 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 ath-letic 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 di-vided into three arrow-shaped layers from top to bottom: the upper layer con-tains 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 acti-vated, 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 his-toric 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 stance of a 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 empha-sized by the broad shoulder line, which is clearly visible from behind and sup-ports 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 per-fection. 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 to-gether by hand in a process which takes several hours, after which they are fit-ted 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.

The particularly exclusive 1.6-millimeter 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 untreated 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 con-tours for a masterful handcrafted finish, and the wood trim has been matched according to grain as part of a sophisticated selection process to create a con-sistent 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.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      OK Mercedes! Good one, ha ha, I get it. Now show us the "real" new CLS. You know, the good looking one? I mean yes, the original CLS does still look modern and, well, not ugly.

      This looks like you guys went off roading through the ugly forest and ran into every branch.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @bgkeen. My sentiments precisely.

      The original CLS is destined to become a modern classic therefore I shall keep mine and prefer to pass on this lame attempt to create a worthwhile replacement. Quite obviously, Herr Wagener does not have the character to show any respect for his predecessors who created the CLS we have come to know. Instead he has taken it upon himself to destroy this modern style icon with a total disharmony in line and form with this 'droopy' misinterpretation of historic Mercedes sedans from the 1950's. This must be some sort of prank to loyal Mercedes customers. Not only does his version look like an old Buick Roadmaster from 1957, but it is lacking the empathy that the elegant, yet muscular in form original masterpiece that appealed to the public when they saw the new CLS for the first time nearly 7 years ago.

      Gorden Wagener is definitely not the right man to head Mercedes-Benz Design nor is he a true Professor. Who knows, the title was probably purchased from an institution in Eastern Europe or elsewhere, but certainly not earned.

      The sort of decadence his design language displays is like a disease that has harmed the integrity of the marque as can be witnessed in the current model range. Once known for it's quality and distinction, with such a tired and droopy style direction, Mercedes will soon be known for it's vulgarity and tasteless. Why he has chosen to create a car that looks dated compared to the fresh-looking original which appealed to more than 170,000 international buyers, is difficult to reason.

      Most assuringly, this disgusting, unrefined, and terribly over-styled abomination of the original is not worthy to be named 'CLS' nor does it deserve the distinction of wearing the three-pointed star.

      Now, please show us the real Mercedes!
      • 4 Years Ago
      looks good, although not as classy as the last one. interior looks good although this is the designo edition, will have to wait for the standard one to make a better judgement. hope that the materials are up from the hard plastics used in the c and e class.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks a little underwhelming all over. And it definitely needs a more modern interior.

      Nice looking profile, though.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm actually quite impressed and I haven't really liked any of the new Benz models.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why do they need to put an emblem on the hood, four inches above the M-B insignia on the front grille?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think the lines are too busy and takes away from the over all design on the exterior. The interior is nice and well done with modern design but I like the previous gen better. It had more symmetrical and cleaner lines.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Overall, IMO, this is the right evolution for the CLS. Those who argue that they prefer the old one, have the right to prefer that to this one. Every new car niche that is successful is always hard to repeat. But I think this is the direction the CLS needed to go. They had to blend in with brand's overall design language. This one follows up nicely on the design approach that was introduced with the S-Class, then the C-class and the E-class after that. We've been prepared for what to expect with the CLS shooting Brake concept earlier this year in Beijing ( http://www.autoblog.com/2010/04/23/beijing-2010-mercedes-benz-cls-shooting-break-concept-is-the-fo/ ), so the front end was already familiar. And with all the spyshots that have been surfacing for the last several months, we shouldn't be shocked by the design.
      My only question is: "Is it legal to have the 3rd brake light so low?"
        • 4 Years Ago
        I believe that's the rear fog light. Look closely and you'll see the CHMSL in the rear shelf, at the base of the rear window.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, Robert, we are not shocked, just disappointed. That's all. The first CLS got us all excited, like a beautiful woman. Then we got to see her ugly sister just before her trip to Paris!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like this new iteration. It still maintains the aggressive look of it's predecessor, and the new LED Lighting treatment is a stunner...

      No too impressed with the old school interior however. A Modern Buick has a more exciting interior than this thing.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Butters, do you honestly think that? The CLS has four individual seats, a console that runs front to rear, high-res graphics in the gauges, matte-finish metal trim and a fat, flat-bottom steering wheel. The Buick interiors have come a long way, but run your hand along the surfaces and you'll still find a few sharp edges, consoles that flex and plasticky-looking chrome. If you've actually been inside the new E-Class you'll know the tactile experience is once again up to MB standards. Again, the new Buicks are probably among the nicest interiors GM has produced in decades, but I don't see how this interior can be called old-school, unless you mean it in a good way (craftsmanship, timelessness, warmth).
      • 4 Years Ago
      Give me the old CLS please. I miss it already.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @John, the third brake light? Are you sure you're not talking about the rear fog?
        • 4 Years Ago
        @askroon... that is the light I am referencing, I would think it's the third brake light only because I can't see one in the rear wind glass, but could be wrong... regardless, love the F1 location....

        But... it wouldn't be terribly uncommon for a street car to have that diffuser/F1 location...

        • 4 Years Ago
        Gotta go with the old one to. It was a very fresh and new design, plus the headlights were unique. These ones look like too much like a C-Class's or something.
        • 4 Years Ago
        nah dude, this is hot! can't wait till i can dump my leased 09!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yep, this is an angular mess compared to the original.
        • 4 Years Ago

        i'll take the weird headlights on the old car over the terrible back end on this anyday.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Love the lights... especially the third brakelight!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Has the criteria for good-looking changed?....there is nothing good-looking about this car. It's a mess, distorted with so many unrelated lines. Front and rear having nothing in common, like two different cars grafted together. The previous generation was a sensational looking car. Mercedes is entering their ugly era, kind of where Honda/Accura is. But the few buying this car will admire each other's impeccable taste. It's a Mercedes!
      Little by little ugly is becoming ubiquitous, people are becoming numb, worn down, there is so much bad car design these days that people are getting used to it. It's now the norm.
      • 4 Years Ago
      bought my cls the first week it was out. a piece of elegant sculpture on wheels. have loved it every day. we were spoiled because that was ground-breaking...this is derivative...but still a stunner.
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