New Car: 2011 Mercedes CLS

We’ve already seen a leaked brochure showing several pictures of the next-gen Mercedes CLS-class, due in 2011 as a 2012 model. Now you can save your eyes the trouble of straining to see a grainy German brochure, as Mercedes has released official pictures of a European-spec CLS.

The second-gen CLS—the four-door coupe that started a segment—has a more restrained, muscular design this time around. If the first CLS was meant to be mistaken for an Italian car (or so Benz’s PR folks said), this one is clearly Germanic, with flared rear wheel arches and squared-off corners. The headlights, which are now completely made up of LEDs, morph from the previous generation’s amoeba-shaped units to a blocky design similar to the lights on the E-class.

The interior is also significantly upgraded, notably ditching dash-mounted COMAND controls for the more intuitive console-mounted knob. The gearshift moves from the center console to the column, like on the S-class and other Benzes, making the cockpit more spacious. An unusual and charming feature from the first CLS, the matte-finish wood on the dash, will no longer be available. It’s replaced by optional high-gloss wood, piano black lacquer, or carbon fiber (seen in the accompanying pics). Overall, the interior still appears stylish and avant-garde—especially compared to an E-class—but based on the pictures, the intimate and warm atmosphere from the previous generation does not carry through.

While Europeans will have optional V-6 gas and diesel engines, the North American CLS will be V-8 only. The standard car will still be called the CLS550, but the old car’s 382-hp, 5.5-liter engine is replaced with Benz’s new twin-turbo, 4.6-liter V-8, which churns up 429 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. There will, of course, be an AMG version of the new CLS. It, too, will retain the first generation’s nomenclature—CLS63—but it receives the new corporate AMG engine. Another twin-turbo V-8, the AMG mill displaces 5.5 liters and cranks out as much as 563 hp and 664 lb-ft in the new S63 AMG.

Both cars will be sold with Benz’s seven-speed automatic, though enthusiasts will keep their fingers crossed that Merc will decide to install the seven-speed dual-clutch unit like the one in the SLS AMG. For the more sedate shoppers, the new CLS will offer 4MATIC all-wheel drive—the first generation was rear-wheel-drive only—available slightly after launch.

Mercedes has said the price for the new CLS will only increase 1–2 percent over the current car. For 2010, the big-boy CLS63 ran $98,825, while the CLS550 clocked in at $73,275. When it goes on sale in mid-2011 as a 2012 model, the 429-hp CLS550 might be the most expensive “bargain” on the market.

Thanks to: Car and Driver


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