Fluid no more
As I was walking the show floor at last week's 2010 Mondial de l'Auto in Paris, I was severely struck with anxiety. Strolling through Peugeot's, Renault's, Mercedes', BMW's and other European makers' stands; I could scarcely believe the effort that was put into every car's styling. Anxiety, because I would not want to be the next guy or gal that has to redesign the next version of the Renault Megane, Audi TT or, in this case, the Mercedes CLS-Class. Imagine the expectations!
Introduced for the 2006 model year, the CLS-Class was to launch a new trend and segment, which it did and, turn automotive styling on its ear, which it also did. Quite honestly, when I first viewed the car, I thought that it made too much of a statement, tried too hard to be different and pleasing at the same time. As the years and subsequent road tests ensued, I grew to seriously appreciate the car's smooth, sleek and sultry lines; a sexier and more seductive 4-door saloon, pardon me, coupe, there was not.
Less tough to love but...
And now, I'm back to square one. The 2012 CLS-Class sports a boxier look, much like the latest C and E-Class cars. In particular, and I'm certain this was purposeful, to the E-Class Coupe. From nose to tail, the CLS has a very similar flat nose, tall beltline and rear-wheel fender arch design as the E-Coupe. From a distance, I think the average human would have a hard time differentiating the two. It's almost as though Mercedes has now made a coupe to look like a sedan. Maybe I'm out to lunch.
As I watched the CLS roll onto the Mercedes stage during the Press conference, my first time laying eyes on the real thing, it did what most other recent cars have done: it made sense. Design-wise. Chunkier and with a more pronounced stance, the CLS is more manly but not as attention-grabbing as the previous car. Oddly, I like the new CLS but I don't think I will further fall for it in time as I did with the old...
It is clear the new sheetmetal is an expression of Mercedes' current design language, thankfully without too much influence from the often overzealous curves and creases seen on the F800 Style concept, unveiled at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show. Polarizing exterior aside, the CLS's cabin is also very current Mercedes. Clearly sourced from today's Mercedes gene pool, it features numerous items found on many other Mercs. The most obvious is the centre console which faced daylight for the first time with the 2008 C-Class.
Moving along, the overall shape of the dashboard is very E-Class, but in true Mercedes fashion, the CLS shares little more with its “lesser” brethren. In the 2012, we find a new three-spoke steering wheel that would look in its element onboard an SLS and some new gauges, more bejewelled and clear than ever. As is the case with most other products from Stuttgart (quite literally), the seats are of the utmost comfort, and one of the major contributing factors in the new CLS' level of cajolement is the widened body, which increases the width of the interior by 23 to 30 mm. In essence, this is the cosiest of the 4-door coupes.
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