The 2012 Mercedes CLS is the second act of the car that invented both the market segment and the grammatical quandary known as the "four-door coupe." Made dramatically more bold for this go-round, it features an upright grille that flows back into a rump that disappears in photos but holds its own in person. The new sedan is also lighter, with aluminum doors that are 52 pounds less heavy and an aluminum hood, front fenders, trunk lid and parcel shelf.
Along with the design, the engines are the story. There will be four available, starting with two 3.5-liter V6 engines in Europe. One is a 265-horsepower diesel engine and the other a 306-hp gas V6 with standard stop/start. Next comes the 2.5-liter four-cylinder diesel with 204 hp, and last to arrive is the V8 CLS 550 putting out 402 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque.
LED High Performance Active Headlights, Direct-Steer electromechanical steering, a tweaked suspension lifted from the E-Class, and a host of interior trim options that range from carbon fiber to high gloss brown burl walnut are among the many changes on the car. There are more details in the press release after the jump, and a gallery of live high-res photos below.
With its exciting, perceptible design and refined sportiness, the new edition of the CLS benefits from the fact that as the inventor of the segment Mercedes-Benz is a whole generation ahead. All of the engines in the CLS are new and help to guarantee an improvement in fuel consumption of up to 25 percent compared with the previous models. Also making a contribution to the increase in efficiency is the electromechanical Direct-Steer system fitted as standard and celebrating its world premiere in the CLS. The CLS is also the first car in the world to feature optional LED High Performance headlamps. For the first time, these combine the tried-and-tested Intelligent Light System from Mercedes models using bi-xenon headlamps with LED technology.
A generation ahead: with the CLS, Mercedes-Benz created a new vehicle category in 2003 which for the first time combined the elegance and dynamism of a coupé with the comfort and functionality of a saloon. The customers were delighted, the competition astounded: for years the CLS has endured as the only four-door coupé in its class, and since October 2004 to the present date it has been the car of choice for around 170,000 buyers around the globe. "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, head of Sales and Marketing for Mercedes-Benz. "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."
The engines: up to 25 percent lower consumption but with higher output
The ultimate in efficiency: this is the hallmark of all four engines which are used in the new CLS. Both the output and torque of all units have been increased compared with the previous models, and at the same time consumption has been significantly reduced by up to 25 percent. At the time of commercial release in Europe in January 2011, two six-cylinder models will initially be available: the CLS 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY producing 195 kW (265 hp) and the CLS 350 BlueEFFICIENCY producing 225 kW (306 hp) and fitted with the ECO start/stop function as standard. The engine range will be extended just two months later with the addition of the CLS 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, producing 150 kW (204 hp). In the ECE consumption cycle, it consumes 5.1 litres of diesel/100 km. In April the CLS 500 BlueEFFICIENCY with V8 engine producing 300 kW (408 hp) will also join the range. These two drive variants also come fitted
with the ECO start/stop function as standard.
Lightweight construction and aerodynamics: making significant contributions to efficiency
The intelligent lightweight construction used in the CLS makes a significant contribution towards addressing the classic conflicting goals of low weight and high strength. As a result the CLS is the first vehicle from Mercedes-Benz to be fitted with doors featuring a full aluminium construction. They consist of deep-drawn aluminium panels with extruded sections, and are around 24 kg lighter compared with conventional steel doors. In addition, the bonnet, front wings, boot lid, parcel shelf, various support sections as well as major parts of the chassis and engine are all made from aluminium too.
The aerodynamics too have played a significant role in the outstanding efficiency of the new Mercedes-Benz CLS. Although the new model is wider compared with the previous model and therefore presents a larger frontal area to the wind, it has still been possible to reduce wind resistance by up ten percent. This is thanks to a 13 percent improvement in the Cd value, which now stands at 0.26.
Electromechanical Direct-Steer system: a new steering sensation
Supreme driving dynamics coupled with superlative ride comfort on long journeys were the terms of reference in developing the chassis for the new Coupé, whose design and functions are geared towards a stylish sportiness. To this end the chassis concept, which has already been excellently received by the trade press and the public in the new E-Class, has undergone a thorough revamp, adding a central new component: the electromechanical Direct-Steer system is making its world premiere in the new CLS. This pioneering innovation is a radical step forward in the relationship between driver, car and road. This is because for the first time engineers have the freedom to freely choose and program a wide variety of parameters which can influence steering perception.
In addition, this steering technology also makes an important contribution to the overall efficiency of the CLS: the steering assist function only requires energy when steering actually takes place, cutting fuel consumption by up to 0.3 litres/7 g of CO2 in the ECE fuel consumption cycle.
For the front suspension, the principle of a three-link front axle with McPherson struts - as used in the E-Class - was adopted and developed into a special enhanced design for the new CLS. The principle of the lightweight independent multilink rear suspension, fitted to a subframe, was also adopted for use in the CLS from the new E-Class on account of its unrivalled wheel location qualities. Compared with the previous model, all components have been modified to achieve higher levels of comfort and driving dynamics.
LED High Performance headlamps: enhanced visibility with complete functionality
The CLS is the first car in the world to feature optional dynamic LED High Performance headlamps, which combine the exciting daylight colour impression of LED technology with the performance, functionality and energy efficiency of today's bi-xenon light generation. For the first time the new light system features the Intelligent Light System which has already been tried and tested in Mercedes-Benz models with bi-xenon headlamps in combination with LED technology. With a total of 71 LED's, the headlamps have an exciting look and as a result help to highlight the distinctive appearance of the CLS. The light specialists at Mercedes-Benz were also able to combine the LED technology with the familiar and innovative Adaptive Highbeam Assist for the first time, which has resulted in a completely new level of safety when driving at night.
In contrast to the first vehicles equipped with LED headlamps, no compromises are now necessary with respect to the functionality and performance of the lighting technology. There are further arguments for the LED-based lighting technology: the average operating life of an LED is around 10,000 hours, around five times longer than that of a xenon light; moreover, LED headlamps most closely approximate the colour temperature of daylight. This means that LED light is in keeping with the normal human perception patterns. Studies have shown that the closer the colour of artificial light comes to daylight, the less the strain on the eyes. With a colour temperature of 5500 Kelvin, LED light is closer to daylight (6500 K) than xenon light (4200 K).
New driver assistance systems: enhanced safety
More than a dozen driver assistance systems in the new CLS help prevent traffic accidents and reduce the severity of injuries. New on board are Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist.
Using short-range radar sensors, Active Blind Sport Assist warns the driver if it detects the risk of a collision when changing lanes. If the driver ignores warnings and the vehicle comes dangerously close to the next lane, Active Blind Spot Assist will intervene. Applying braking force to the wheels on the opposite side of the vehicle via the Electronic Stability Program ESP® creates a yaw movement which counteracts the collision course.
Active Lane Keeping Assist is now also linked to the ESP® for the first time. This system kicks into action if the Mercedes vehicle inadvertently drifts over a solid line to the right or left of a lane. In this case, Active Lane Keeping Assist uses the ESP® to brake the opposite wheels and thereby prevent the vehicle from crossing the line. A display on the instrument cluster warns the driver at the same time. If broken lane markings are crossed, the system controls an electric pulse generator in the steering wheel which generates vibrations for a short time – a discreet but highly effective cue to countersteer immediately. Before the braking system intervenes, the steering wheel always vibrates to provide a warning.
Exterior: classic Coupé styling with distinctive front
The new CLS builds on the pioneering role of its predecessor yet at the same time is an entirely new edition. 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 bonnet but is formed separately. This highlights the long, sporty bonnet even further. The grille is dominated by the large central star, which underlines the car's relationship to the other coupés of the brand and also enhances brand identity.
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 areas. The front edge of the structure, above the mudguards, slopes off towards the rear. Referred to by the designers as the dropping line, this novel design feature also represents a new interpretation of a formal design element harking back to the uniquely rich wealth of forms present in historic Mercedes sports cars.
A distinctive and muscular sports car-like shoulder line above the rear axle highlights the athletic character of the new CLS. The flared wheel arches resemble the powerful thighs of a feline predator waiting to pounce.
The interior: design brings quality to life
The interior of the CLS is also distinguished by a timeless design which combines straightforward elegance with innovative details and handcrafted perfection. An eye-catching feature is the wrap-around effect of the cockpit: a high line sweeps from the driver's door over the instrument panel support and across to the front passenger door. The central display has also been integrated harmoniously into the upper part of the instrument panel. At the same time, the downward sweeping side line on the doors continues the dynamic dropping line of the exterior.
As a design trendsetter, the CLS sets new standards in interiors with its wide variety of individualisation options. Five interior colours, five trim designs and also three qualities of leather are available to choose from.
The CLS also lives up to its role as a design icon thanks to the innovative nature of the materials used. These comprise an exciting mixture of satin and high-gloss finishes used on the metal surfaces. The refined sportiness of the interior of the CLS is further reflected in the generous use of high-quality trim elements. They are located on the instrument panel support, the centre console and on parts of the door linings. Customers can choose between three exclusive types of wood: high-gloss brown burr walnut, high-gloss black ash and satin-finish light-brown poplar. The interior can be given an even more progressive look with the addition of piano lacquer or carbon fibre trim elements.