Mercedes’ CLS-Class, the model that kicked off the four-door coupe phenomenon, is back in its third generation, sleeker, faster
THIS IS THE all-new Mercedes-Benz CLS, the four-door coupe that takes mechanical underpinnings from the executive E-Class model and drapes them in sleek clothing. As per the original model’s brief, the third-generation car marries the practicality of four doors with a silhouette that’s altogether more glamorous.
While the low, swooping roofline defines the car, the most striking thing about the new CLS-Class is its shark-like nose, with a trapezoidal grille that widens at the bottom, a bit like the front end of the AMG GT sports car, and one that’s flanked by low-set triangular headlights that give it an intimidating, angry-faced aggression.
The surfacing down the side of the car has also been cleaned up and the rear end flattened, giving the car a more handsome profile than the outgoing model.
Other than the exterior design, the other major highlight of the CLS is to be found under the bonnet, with the return of Mercedes in-line six engines the big newspoint; historically the company had exclusively used the in-line format for its sixes, until abandoning them in favour of V6s in 1998.
Topping the range at launch will be the CLS 450, with a 3.0-litre turbo engine that produces 367hp and 500Nm and will get it from 0 to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds.
It’s fitted with what Mercedes calls EQ Boost, an electric motor that acts as an integrated starter/generator which is not only able to briefly provide additional bursts of power and torque (22hp and 250Nm), but also allows for extended coasting (or “sailing”, as Mercedes calls it) and stop-start functionality.
The other engines announced at launch are both diesels, a CLS 350d and CLS 400d, neither of those seem likely to make it to Singapore. All launch variants are equipped with Merc’s 4Matic all-wheel drive as standard.
On the horizon, you can expect hotter Mercedes-AMG versions (our money’s on a CLS 63 4Matic+ and CLS 63 S 4Matic+ that can both crack 100km/h comfortably under four seconds). Less hedonistic rear wheel-drive models, some of which should have four-cylinder engines, should also join the range. Eventually, a Shooting Brake (or wagon) variant will appear, as well.
Like the E-Class, it has multi-link steel suspension at all four corners, with air suspension available as an option. CLS models have traditionally more direct steering rack than their E-Class siblings, in order give them sharper turn-in response, and it seems likely that this will be the case again.
Another clear display of its E-Class roots is the interior, which looks like it came straight out of the E-Class Coupe that was recently launched in Singapore. This is no bad thing, as it’s one of the most stylish cabins on the market today (the twin-display Widescreen Cockpit a particular delight), but the CLS one-ups the E-Class with bespoke seats.
And while the first CLS-Class was introduced as a four-seater car with two individual chairs in the rear, this model will be a five-seat car from the get-go, which should help to broaden its appeal here, where buyers prefer seating for three people in the back.
Prices have not yet been revealed and worldwide deliveries will only begin towards the end of the second quarter of 2018. The middle of the year is about as early as you can expect to see it in Singapore, we figure.
PLAYING IT STRAIGHT: Explaining Mercedes’ decision to enhance its six appeal
MERCEDES’ DECISION TO go with V6 engines in the late 90s could be seen as a cost-cutting measure; the engines were modular versions of the brand’s V8 engines, sharing parts (and a crank angle) in order to maximise production efficiency. But the V6 engines brought other benefits.
V6s may be wider than in-line sixes, but their shorter length meant they had were easier to pack inside a smaller engine bay, meaning more of the car’s length could be devoted to passenger space.
Now though, the V6’s extra width could count against it as it restricts the positioning (and efficiency) of emissions equipment such as catalytic converters, which work more quickly when positioned as close to the engine itself as possible in order to ensure a speedier warm-up. That’s a crucial factor in ever-tightening environmental regulations, something in which a narrower in-line six (like the one in the new CLS, below) has an advantage.
In-line sixes are also inherently smoother and more free-revving than V6s, and are often praised by engineers and driving enthusiasts for the “perfect” balance of their internal moving parts, which roate in such as way as to cancel out engine vibrations. That’s a boon for luxury cars such as those made by Mercedes-Benz, and is something fans of the brand are no doubt looking forward to.
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