The All-New Mercedes CLS Remains The Sexiest Sedan In The Fleet

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For those that want an E-Class but with more style.

The original Mercedes CLS of 2004 captured the imagination of buyers around the world with its sleek looks. Based on the E-Class platform it created a fresh new segment - the four-door coupe - that has been much copied since. The second generation CLS of 2010 was styled in the Mercedes Advanced Design Studio in Southern California, and was roomier inside. The new third generation CLS is the final model to be built around the Mercedes MRA platform on which the current C-Class, E-Class, and GLC-Class models are based.

"Apart from its sleeker shape the new CLS departs from the E-Class platform in having air suspension as standard, and employs the latest driver assistance systems and telematics from the recently facelifted S-Class," says Michael Kelz, development chief for the E-Class, CLS and GLC-Class models. The new CLS has a drag coefficient of 0.27, which is not quite as good as the E-Class. Its sleek profile is to blame for this as its boat-tail shape and steeply sloping trunk lid are less conducive to clean airflow separation at the rear as the blunter E-Class tail. To compensate for this, the aerodynamicists created a flat bottom for the CLS with an integrated underbody diffuser at the rear to help reduce lift over the rear axle.

The sloping bootlid is also responsible for the 18.36 cu ft (520 liters) of trunk space, 1.06 cu ft (30 liters) down on the E-Class. Thanks to the flush fitting of its frameless side windows, and the side mirrors mounted on the doors rather than the triangular fillet of the doors, the cabin of the new CLS is measurably quieter than the E-Class. And that is just with the stock glass. Buyers will also be able to tick the box for the acoustic glass that renders the cabin even quieter. Coming this late in the platform cycle, the new CLS benefits from the all-new straight six gas and diesel engine family, and partial 48-volt electrical system that debuted with the facelifted S-Class this summer.

The main difference here is that while the S-Class has its 48-volt battery in the trunk with the 12-volt battery in the engine bay, the CLS turns this around, which means that it doesn't require the hoses for the high voltage coolant system to be run under the car to the rear, saving space and weight. While the front and rear suspension is based on the air suspended version of the E-Class chassis, the components are not quite the same and carry unique part numbers. The traditionally sportier set-up of the CLS compared to the E-Class is responsible for this. The rear track of the new CLS is 1.5 inches (38 mm) wider than the E-Class.

This comes from the wider rear wheels, in a mixed wheel and tire sizing arrangement that uses 245/35ZR20 tires in front and 275/30ZR20 at the rear on the largest diameter of the stock wheels. While the new interior has about the same headroom in the rear as before, front occupants benefit from the seats being slightly lower. The other big change in the cabin is the five rather than four-seat configuration, which was particularly demanded by the Asian market. The cabin bears a lot of current Mercedes interior design clues, like the twin 12.3-inch instrument and infotainment screens, the backlit turbine style air vents, and the center console heating and air-conditioning controls.

A wide variety of four and six-cylinder gas and diesel engines will be available in other markets. The car in the photos is the CLS 450 4Matic whose 3.0-liter inline-six unit produces a total of 367 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to the three-stage turbocharging with an electrical first stage from the integrated starter/generator, performance is brisk with 0-62 mph coming up in 4.8 seconds on the way to its electronically limited 155 mph top speed. The new CLS goes on sale in Germany next March, with US sales starting with the 2019 model year. An AMG version - the CLS53 - will join the range later, but there will be no CLS63 in order to make room for the four-door AMG GT.

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