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.
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.
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.