While visiting Chicago on vacation earlier this month, Mercedes gave me a pre-production version of their upcoming CLS four-door sports coupe to drive around town. The good news is that it is an absolutely stunning example of Mercedes design and a worthy update to the Mercedes CLS nameplate. The bad news is that you likely won’t be able to get one until next year… and I want one in my garage now!
A Design To Excite
For Dad’s (or Mom’s) who need the utility of a four-door vehicle but don’t want to give up the emotion of driving sports coupe, the Mercedes CLS (and this segment) was born for you. Mercedes paratactically invented the “four door sports coupe” segment with CLS back in the early 2000’s. They were amongst the first to offer a luxury four-door sedan with a fastback like roof line and a limited b-pillar. Since then, brands like Audi and BMW have copied the style on their most sportiest family friendly models.
The CLS’ design language is meant to evoke excitement from the minute you look at the car – I even found myself taking a second look at the vehicle every time I parked it. The silhouette with its frameless b-pillar makes you think for a monument that you are driving a traditional two sports coupe. Whether you are going through a mid-life crisis with kids or you just haven’t grown up yet, the style will evoke a sense of pride in ownership that you likely haven’t felt since you were 16 years old.
Adrenaline Kicks In
It is improper to call a car a sports coupe without a proper drivetrain. That is why Mercedes is gracefully brining back their in-line 6 cylinder engine. The shape of Mercedes’ V6 motors are technically more advanced than a traditional in-line 6, but in-line 6 (aka straight six) motors are better balanced and offer weight savings due to fewer parts. For 2019, Mercedes’ all-new in-line 6 cylinder on the CLS is turbo-charged and it is electrically assisted for enhanced performance. The manufacturer added a powerful electric starter generator to the mix, which adds 21 extra horsepower and 184 pound of extra torque. This gives the Mercedes CLS a combined 383 horsepower and 553 pounds of torque. That is AMG level torque without having to upgrade to AMG level pricing. You can feel it too, especially when accelerating from a stoplight.
Luxury At Its Finest
This Mercedes isn’t the brand’s flagship model, but it does come available with a number of ultra-luxury amenities. To start with: the dash, doors, and steering wheel is covered in ultra soft two-tone leather. The seats were fitted with perforated leather in a diamond quilted stitch pattern. For those cold winter nights; the steering wheel, door panel armrests, center armrest, and the seats are all heated. For those warm summers; cooled seats will keep you chilled. In addition to the leather, black piano wood trim and carefully placed aluminum dress up the vehicle in modern luxury. At night, the uniqueness is intensified using custom color LED accents. Via a dynamic control panel in the vehicle’s menu options, there are dozens of different color combinations.
Obviously with a car of this caliber, the crossroads of safety and technology are expected. The CLS I tested included forward emergency braking and Mercedes’ latest software update for lane keep assist. As with other Mercedes-Benz vehicles, you can pretty much let the car drive itself on most highways with its best-in-class lane keep assist. My test vehicle also had the ability to park itself into a parallel or perpendicular parking spot. But if you don’t trust the CLS to park itself, a 360 degree camera will make sure you don’t damage your beautiful car. This is displayed on one of two gigantic screens on the dash. Each one can be configured to your likeness for controlling the audio, navigation, and vehicle functions.
E-Class vs CLS vs S-Class
The name CLS is confusing. For instance when I told my Dad that Mercedes is dropping off a pre-production CLS for me to enjoy, he thought I was getting a variation of the C-Class sedan. While a friend of mine noticed an S in the name and thought it was a variation of the S-Class. The car is in-fact positioned in between the E-Class and the S-Class sedans. CL stands for “Coupe Leicht Sport” in Mercedes-Benz jargon. The CLS rides on the same platform as the E-Class sedan, therefore it shares an almost identical size, but the CLS traditionally borrows the technology, creative comforts, and engine of the S-Class sedan. So you get the best of both worlds + a sporty nature. I say the best, because I know a lot of people who love the technology and comfort of the S-Class sedan but don’t want to drive an extra-large sedan.
Pricing & Availability
I haven’t received official word on when the CLS will be making the rounds at dealerships. Rumor has it that the first CLS’ will land in the USA for VIP customers in December. With the majority owners taking delivery in early 2019. Pricing isn’t confirmed either. The current CLS 550 start just over $75,000, but I would expect this new model to be closer to $80,000 base because there is a night and day different between the outgoing model.
Only one thing is for sure… Mercedes has stepped up their game with the new CLS!
I don’t agree with the use of the term four-door coupe, because to me a “coupe” has two-doors, but I appreciate the similarities and the fastback design language of this segment of vehicles.
I did not receive any compensation by Mercedes-Benz or its affiliates for this review, but they did loan me the car and provided a free tank of gas during my trip to the mid-west.