Next-gen Mercedes CLS (2010): the full story

Published: 30 September 2008

The Mercedes CLS has been a success so Stuttgart is pushing ahead with a replacement, due in late 2010. We’ve snapped the first engineering mule, testing with Brembo engineers, but the big news will be 4Matic transmissions, a hybrid option, new turbo engines and even more striking looks. The mule we've caught uses the current CLS body, but with flared wheelarches to accomodate the wider tracks of the next-gen car.

So Mercedes is replacing the CLS?

Yes. Five years ago, the term ‘four-door coupe’ was a big unknown. But in 2004, Mercedes introduced the CLS and it didn’t take long for it to become the brand´s new shooting-star. Other marques followed, like Jaguar with the XF and VW with the Passat CC, while in 2010 Audi will unleash the A7 and BMW will launch the four-door CS coupe. But while the competition is still learning the tricks of the four-door coupe trade, Mercedes is already laying the finishing touches on the second-generation CLS.

Codenamed C218, the new low-roof four-seater is a careful evolution of the original design masterminded by Gordon Wagener, who was recently appointed head of the design department, replacing Peter Pfeiffer.

The first CLS has found 130,000 takers so far, about 43,000 units per year, or 40 percent more than originally anticipated. But although Mercedes is obviously pleased about the performance of its high-yield niche model, there is no denying that the CLS has cannibalized the E-class, which looks rather bland by comparison.

Click 'Next' below to read more about the next-gen Mercedes CLS

What will the visual difference be between old and new?

Subjectively at least, the second-edition CLS is even prettier than the model it replaces. The banana-inspired side view is now less radical, the odd L-shaped headlamps are gone, and the cluttered front end has given way to a much more elegant appearance.

Another big change concerns the more three-dimensional flanks, which feature rear power bulges, prominent so-called character lines and boldly flared wheel arches. The roof line is still arc-shaped, but the A- and C-posts are better integrated.

While the bootlid is again of the swoopy kind, the rear window and the rear lights are bigger than before. The grille assumes a more upright position to improve the pedestrian protection, the rectangular headlamps are less controversial, and the new bumper looks notably more solid. Like all future Benzes, the next CLS boasts horizontally staggered LED daytime running lights as well as high-intensity LED stop lights.

Click 'Next' below to read more about the Mercedes CLS replacement

And does the CLS still get a special interior?

Inside, the CLS retains a bespoke dashboard layout, made-to-measure seats and its own door panels. Like the current car, the new model offers tasteful alternative choices in terms of timber (for example, open-pore matt finish wood), hide (untreated soft leather) and ambience (duo-tone trim, colour-coded stitching and piping).

A more exclusive standard specificaton has been chosen to make the customer forget that the four-door coupe costs about €9000 (£7000) more than a comparatively equipped E-class.

To further enhance the appeal, Merc plans to introduce new driver assisstance systems like automatic lane guidance, new comfort features like a 360-degree camera with in-dash monitor and new safety items like a mix of night vision II and head-up display. To display the additional information an LCD panel will added to the main instrument cluster – it can, for example, read out the road speed in large digital numbers.

Click 'Next' below to read about the new engine range for the CLS

What about this hybrid option and those turbo engines?

The next CLS will again be offered with four different engines - but the line-up is all-new:

CLS 350 – 3.5-litre direct-injection V6, 292bhp; power output increases to 306bhp in 2012

CLS 550 – 5.5-litre V8, 388bhp; superseded by 435bhp direct-injection twin-turbo V8 in 2012

CLS 55 AMG – 5.5-litre twin-turbo direct-injection V8, 570bhp; available from mid-2011 onward

CLS 320 CDI – 3.0-litre direct-injection V6, 224bhp; replaced in 2011 by 313bhp CLS 350 CDI

With the exception of the AMG version, all CLS models can be had with 4Matic 4WD, though it may still not be available in right-hand drive. This £2400 option will be reportedly modified for less weight and reduced friction. In combination with the potent and nose-heavy V8, Mercedes expects 4Matic sales to account for just over ten percent.

While the diesel features the latest Bluetec de-smogging kit, the petrol-fed engines should incorporate a mild-hybrid function in the shape of small electric motors integrated in the transmission housing. This application does not yet permit zero-emission operation, but it is an important step towards the plug-in full hybrid Mercedes is readying for the US. This system should debut early next year in the M- and GL-class, closely followed by the S-class.

Click 'Add your comment' below and tell us what you think of the next Mercedes CLS

What about this hybrid option and those turbo engines?

The next CLS will again be offered with four different engines - but the line-up is all-new:

CLS 350 – 3.5-litre direct-injection V6, 292bhp; power output increases to 306bhp in 2012

CLS 550 – 5.5-litre V8, 388bhp; superseded by 435bhp direct-injection twin-turbo V8 in 2012

CLS 55 AMG – 5.5-litre twin-turbo direct-injection V8, 570bhp; available from mid-2011 onward

CLS 320 CDI – 3.0-litre direct-injection V6, 224bhp; replaced in 2011 by 313bhp CLS 350 CDI

With the exception of the AMG version, all CLS models can be had with 4Matic 4WD, though it may still not be available in right-hand drive. This £2400 option will be reportedly modified for less weight and reduced friction. In combination with the potent and nose-heavy V8, Mercedes expects 4Matic sales to account for just over ten percent.

While the diesel features the latest Bluetec de-smogging kit, the petrol-fed engines should incorporate a mild-hybrid function in the shape of small electric motors integrated in the transmission housing. This application does not yet permit zero-emission operation, but it is an important step towards the plug-in full hybrid Mercedes is readying for the US. This system should debut early next year in the M- and GL-class, closely followed by the S-class.

Click 'Add your comment' below and tell us what you think of the next Mercedes CLS

By Georg Kacher

European editor, secrets uncoverer, futurist, first man behind any wheel

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