Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is First Produced
The Mercedes-Benz CLS is an executive-size sedan based on the W211 E-Class platform.
Marketed as a 'four door coupe,' the CLS recalls the fastback saloon designs of Robert Opron in the 1970s. According to a Mercedes-Benz press release, the CLS-class was produced to combine the "strong, emotive charisma" of a coupe with the "comfort and practicality" of a saloon. Save for its four-door design, the CLS's design tends towards a coupe, as its sleek roofline reduces the rear passenger room to a 2+2 arrangement, and it offers a smaller selection of engines tending towards high powered of the range, compared to contemporary sedans such as the E-Class.
The current iteration of the CLS is internally designated as the C219 and it was first offered for sale in Europe in autumn 2004. It is assembled by Daimler AG in Sindelfingen, Germany and Mercedes-Benz-Valdez in Santiago Tianguistenco, Mexico.
The next generation CLS was first seen being tested in 2009, with a scheduled introduction in 2010. It was introduced first on the NAIAS in Detroit, in January 2010, by a sculpture showing the new design for Mercedes cars. Rumours state the CLS might be the first car to introduce a new line of AMG engines, replacing the 6.2 V8 used in all 63 AMG's except W220 S63 and C215 CL63.
The CLS marked Mercedes-Benz's return to the executive-size coupe market since the (W124) E-Class Coupe (a two-door sedan) went out of production in 1995. The (W210) E-Class did not spawn a coupe variant, as Mercedes-Benz choose instead to introduce a smaller coupe based on the compact C-Class, the CLK-Class. However, the CLK-Class was built with a lengthened C-Class wheelbase so it could be slotted as a mid-sized vehicle, and it also featured styling cues, engines, and similar pricing to the (W210) E-Class to give the impression that the (W124) E-Class Coupe had been directly replaced. The CLS name also caused some to confuse it as the four-door version of the CL-Class, the full-sized coupe based on the S-Class.
Priced to slot between the mid-sized E-Class and the full-sized S-Class, it competes in the range which was previously solely occupied by the BMW 6-series. Prior to the launch of the CLS, Mercedes had no direct answer to the executive-sized 6-series which positioned itself between the compact/mid-sized CLK and the full-sized CL. The CLK is slotted between the BMW 3 series coupe/cabriolet and the 6 series coupe/cabriolet, while the CL has no direct competitor. Others maintain, however, that the CLS has no direct competitor.
During its development, Mercedes-Benz executives nicknamed the CLS the "Jag fighter," hoping that it would be the type of vehicle that Jaguar customers would be attracted to. Jaguar, however, has not launched a four-door coupe since production until recently announced as the 2009 Jaguar XF sedan. Due to the popularity of the CLS-Class, other manufacturers are offering similar four-door sedans, the most similar being Volkswagens' recently launched Passat CC.
The first generation of the CLS, the Mercedes-Benz C219, is based upon the W219 platform, a W211 E-Class spin-off that is six inches (152 mm) longer.
The CLS-class was first displayed as the Vision CLS concept at the 2003 Frankfurt International Motor Show. The production version CLS 500 made its debut at the 2004 New York International Auto Show. A new AMG model was introduced at the 2004 Paris Motor Show, the CLS 55 AMG. Only 3,000 CLS 55 AMG cars will be built each year.
The CLS was first offered for sale in the United States in January 2005; the CLS 550, CLS 55 AMG and CLS 63 AMG are sold in the United States. The CLS 550 has a base price of US$65,620, with the CLS 55 starting at US$87,320. CLS63 starts at $92,500 for a base model, and is offered with steering wheel mounted paddles (F1 style), and 19" wheels for the US market.
The CLS 350 and CLS 500 have a 7-speed automatic transmission.
A diesel version, CLS 320 CDI, is available for the European market with a 3 liter V6 producing 224 hp (167kW) and 510 N.m (376 lbf) of torque. For model year 2007 (MY2007), the engine found in the CLS 320 CDI is updated to produce 540N.m, although Peak power remains unchanged
IVM Automotive, a subsidiary of German roof system specialist Edscha, developed the entire vehicle from the Vision concept to the production version. More than 150 IVM engineers were involved, making the CLS the largest vehicle development project in the company's history.
Mercedes-Benz has planned a yearly production of 30,000 units worldwide, of which about 10,000 will be shipped to the U.S. market.
For the model year 2007, Mercedes-Benz has replaced the CLS 55 AMG with the CLS 63 AMG. The CLS 63 uses the newly developed AMG M156 naturally aspirated V8 engine capable of 514 hp (378 kW) and 630 N·m (464 ft·lbf) of torque. This results in a 0-60 mph time of 4.3 and 3.9 seconds for the CLS55 AMG and CLS63 AMG respectively.
Mercedes-Benz has put all of its latest safety features into the CLS-class. In addition to front airbags, there are side-impact airbags in the front seats and side curtain airbags throughout. The car features a "smart" sensor system for the seatbelts and airbags that can detect and react to accident severity. An optional Pre-Safe system predicts an impending collision; when the system is activated, the seatbelts tighten, the front passenger seat adjusts to crash positioning, and the sunroof closes automatically. Mercedes-Benz engineers describe the feature as a human-like reflex system.
The air suspension has three settings. The default setting, "Comfort," is ideal under normal driving conditions, stiffening as the car's speed increases. "Sport 1" and "Sport 2" settings give the car more agility on winding and bumpy roads. The car can also be raised three inches (76 mm) , if needed.
The CLS-class comes with a choice of four interior colors, three types of leather and two kinds of wood. Leather interior comes standard, with Nappa leather upholstery available on designo models. Burl walnut and dark laurel wood interior trim are available in either a high-gloss or silk matte finish. Leather colors include Black, Basalt Gray, Sunset Red and Cashmere. New scratch-resistant exterior paint is three times as durable as past exterior finishes.
There are 33 inches (838 mm) of rear legroom, which is not quite as accommodating as the 35.6 inches (904 mm) available in the E-Class. Elbow room is generous at 57 inches (1448 mm). The trunk can hold 16 cubic feet (453 L) of cargo.
The following features are standard in all models: heated auto-dimming mirrors, outside temperature gauge, rain-sensing wipers and projector-beam headlights. Also standard is a Thermatic automatic climate control system; this system assesses and adjusts interior temperature and humidity levels and filters the air in the cabin. There are dual controls in both the front and rear seats.
Other available features include: self-cleaning bi-xenon HID headlamps, distronic radar-guided cruise control, power sunroof, keyless go, drive authorization system and Parktronic parking sensors. Available electronics include: COMAND control system, GPS navigation and surround sound audio.
The CLS 55 AMG and CLS 63 AMG are modified versions of the CLS produced by Mercedes-AMG. Features exclusive to AMG models include: perforated sport seats, 18 inch (457 mm) light-alloy wheels with wider tires (for the UK), 19 inch five spoke light-alloy wheels (standard in North America, optional for all other markets), large air inlets and quad chromed oval exhaust pipes.
When it comes to shaking up the luxury car world, no amount of power, technological sophistication or supple leather in the cabin can top an alluring design. More stunning in person than even the most flattering photography might suggest, the coupelike Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class has a visual presence that few other luxury sedans can match. And that is something that's not likely to change for some time to come.
Although the CLS makes use of a number of unique pieces throughout, much of the underlying structure and hardware comes from the well-regarded E-Class. The engines in the CLS550 and CLS63 AMG, for example, are shared with the E-Class and are connected to Mercedes' familiar seven-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift capability. While its rakish visage does wonders for the CLS's image, it also reduces interior dimensions in several key areas. Up front, the effects are minimal as the CLS feels every bit as accommodating as Mercedes' full-size luxury flagship, but in back, its dimensions are tighter in nearly every direction when compared to more mainstream sedans. Additionally, the high beltline and small rear windows can make occupants feel closed in.
Overall, though, for the luxury car buyer who desires distinctive styling, strong performance and a sumptuous interior, the CLS is easy to recommend.
Current Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class
The Mercedes-Benz CLS is available as the CLS550 or the CLS63 AMG. For both models, expect all the typical powered controls and luxury accoutrements. Mercedes' Airmatic suspension system comes standard, too, giving the CLS enough adjustability to suit every type of driver. Left in its standard Comfort mode, it responds with typical luxury car motions -- soft when it needs to be and stiff enough to maintain sufficient control at all times. Additional settings programmed for more aggressive driving are available should you desire more precisely controlled handling.
As the rear-wheel-drive CLS is meant to be a relatively exclusive and upscale car, Mercedes hasn't bothered to offer a V6-powered model. Rather, the lineup starts with the CLS550. It's equipped with a 5.5-liter V8 developing 382 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. The CLS63 AMG has a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 507 hp and 465 lb-ft. A seven-speed automatic with Sportronic manual-shift capability is the sole gearbox for both trims. Paddle shifters are standard on the CLS63 and optional on the CLS550.
With so many gears and so much torque at its disposal, the CLS is never far from its sweet spot, making the sizable luxury sedan every bit as quick as its horsepower numbers suggest. The CLS63 AMG needs only 4.4 seconds to hit 60 mph.
Inside the cockpit, sweeping wood panels, chrome trim surrounds, premium materials and beautiful detailing set the CLS apart. However, the car's coupelike roof line and tighter door openings can make getting in and out of the rear seats more difficult. Once in place, the aft quarters are surprisingly accommodating, but headroom borders on unacceptable for 6-footers. The short windows make it feel less airy than a typical sedan, but compared to a traditional two-door coupe, the Mercedes-Benz CLS is legitimately comfortable in back rather than merely tolerable.
In reviews, we've noted that the CLS-Class cars offer plenty of entertainment value to go along with their gorgeous exteriors. Transitioning from one curve to the next makes it obvious that the CLS models are no full-size land yachts. Even the CLS550 invites spirited driving thanks to its quicker steering and reduced body roll compared with the E-Class, while the CLS63 AMG pushes the envelope even further thanks to its sport-tuned suspension, more powerful brakes, and bigger wheels and tires.
Used Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class Models
Mercedes-Benz introduced the stunning, performance-oriented CLS500 sedan in 2006. As the CLS500's name suggests, it came with a 5.0-liter V8 rated at 306 hp. In that first year, Mercedes also offered the 469-hp CLS55 AMG. These models were superseded by the CLS550 and CLS63 AMG for 2007. For 2009, the Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class received a mild exterior styling refresh, including an updated twin-bar grille, restyled wheels, trapezoidal exhaust tips and reshaped LED taillights. The COMAND interface was also revised.
The CLS550 and CLS63 AMG have distinctive body-lines that combine the sporty character of a coupe with the practicality of a sedan.
The CLS features a trademark coupe-like silhouette that still manages to incorporate sedan-like four doors. The CLS550 comes with a 382-hp 5.5-liter V8 engine while the more aggressive CLS63 AMG has a 507-hp 6.2-liter V8. A seven-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift capability sends power to the rear wheels. Both models are equipped with Mercedes-Benz's Pre-Safe system, which will automatically close the sunroof and move the front seats to the safest position if sensors automatically detect an impending collision. More traditional safety features such as side-curtain airbags and anti-lock brakes also come standard. As expected from Mercedes, luxury appointments abound. With features like power front seats, four-zone automatic climate control, six-disc satellite surround sound audio, and doors that shut themselves if you forget to, comfort and convenience are everywhere.