Skip to main content

Swapping edges for arches, the new CLS sets the tone for future Mercedes

The Mercedes-Benz CLS pioneered the four-door coupe segment when it turned every head in the room at the 2004 New York Auto Show. A lot has changed in the industry over the past 13 years, and the CLS has gone through two generations, but it’s remained all about design. The third-generation model introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show cranks the style dial up another notch.

As trendsetting as ever, the third-generation CLS ushers in the design beat that Mercedes’ future models will march to in the foreseeable future. The company points out its designers reduced sharp edges and lines to create a pure design. Up front, the grille is lower than before and the headlights are sharper; we see a little bit of GT in the styling. The arched roof line is a direct reference to the original CLS, and the outgoing model‘s pronounced haunches are gone, replaced by a flatter surface which seamlessly flows into the rear end. The angular tail lamps are positioned horizontally at the belt line level, right below the spoiler neatly integrated into the trunk lid.

You can share the CLS experience with more friends than ever before because it’s offered with five seats for the first time. The dashboard looks familiar, at last if you’ve been keeping up with recent Mercedes models. It gets an optional dual-screen setup also found in the E-Class and the S-Class, a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel with touch-sensitive surfaces, and a flowing center console. Designers programmed 64 colors into the ambient lighting system.

At launch, the lineup will consist of a single model named CLS 450. It’s equipped with a brand-new straight-six engine that makes 362 horsepower between 5,500 and 6,100 rpm and 369 pound-feet of torque from 1,600 all the way up to 4,000 rpm. Those figures are impressive on their own, but it gets better. Mercedes added an electric motor that draws power from a 48-volt battery to provide an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft. of torque for short bursts of time. We’ll have to be patient to learn performance specifications, but we’re told the 3.0-liter six-cylinder will deliver V8-like acceleration while slurping considerably less fuel.

The six shifts through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive will come standard, and Mercedes’ 4Matic four-wheel drive system will come at an extra cost. Both variants are electronically limited to 130 mph, which is plenty unless you routinely travel on Germany’s Autobahn.

Other variants will join the line-up a little later in the production run. Nothing official has been announced yet, but it’s safe to assume Mercedes-AMG will sell at least one variant of the CLS. We know the sub-brand is preparing its own four-door coupe, which it previewed earlier this year with the GT concept, so it will walk a fine line as it attempts to differentiate the two models in an ever-expanding line-up of performance cars.

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS will reach American showrooms by the fall of next year. Pricing information hasn’t been released yet. It will compete in the same segment as the Audi A7, which is preparing to enter its second generation with equally head-turning looks, and the Porsche Panamera.

Editors' Recommendations

Ronan Glon
Ronan Glon is an American automotive and tech journalist based in southern France. As a long-time contributor to Digital…
Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV is old-school luxury — electrified
Front three quarter view of the Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV.

Mercedes-Benz is preparing for an electric future with its EQ models, a line of EVs with futuristic aerodynamic styling and all of the latest infotainment tech. With several EQ models already in production, Mercedes is shifting focus to more traditional luxury.
The Mercedes-Maybach EQS SUV is the first all-electric vehicle from Maybach, the ultra-luxury subbrand of Mercedes. It takes the EQS SUV launched in 2022 and bathes it in opulence, adding more chrome on the outside and more creature comforts on the inside.
Scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. this fall, the Maybach is an unusual EV proposition, taking what is supposed be a forward-thinking design and wrapping it in old-school luxury. Ahead of its launch, Digital Trends got an up-close look at the Maybach EQS SUV to see how Mercedes is trying to balance those two aspects.

Germany's Rolls-Royce goes electric
The Maybach name has great historical significance for Mercedes. Wilhelm Maybach was one of the earliest automotive engineers. He designed the first Mercedes-branded car for the Daimler company (now Daimler-Benz), but struck out on his own after a falling out with company management. His eponymous company built Zeppelin engines, luxury cars, and, during World War II, engines for German military vehicles.
Daimler-Benz took control of Maybach in the 1960s, but left the passenger-car business dormant. Mercedes then revived the Maybach name in the early 2000s as a competitor to the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley, both of which are owned by rival German automakers. Given Wilhelm Maybach's history with Mercedes, it essentially brought things full circle.
The 21st-century Maybach brand started out with standalone models in the form of the Maybach 57 and Maybach 62 sedans (as well as the stunning Exelero prototype), but production ended in 2012 amid dwindling sales. Mercedes then switched to making Maybach-branded versions of existing models like the S-Class sedan and GLS-Class SUV, a pattern that continues with the Maybach EQS SUV.

Read more
Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV first drive review: ’90s look, cutting-edge tech
Front three quarter view of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV.

Mercedes-Benz is one of the oldest automakers in existence, but it's been among the quickest to launch a lineup of electric cars. It may not have the freshness of a startup, but what it does have are actual cars to sell to customers.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQE SUV is the middle child of Mercedes' electric SUV lineup, slotting between the entry-level EQB and the flagship EQS SUV, and targeting electric luxury SUVs like the Audi E-Tron, BMW iX, and Cadillac Lyriq. Like the EQS, the EQE SUV is based on an existing sedan, hence the "SUV" suffix. In a previous first drive, we found the EQE sedan to be a good balance between luxury and livability, giving the SUV version a lot to live up to.

Read more
Mercedes is finally bringing an electric van to the U.S.
Front three quarter view of the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter electric van.

Mercedes-Benz might be known for luxury cars, but it also makes vans, and it's finally bringing an electric van to the United States.

Scheduled to start production this summer, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz eSprinter is an all-electric version of the Sprinter full-size cargo van that's already a favorite of delivery services like FedEx and Amazon, as well as camper van converters. While the automaker has been selling electric vans in Europe since 2010, the new eSprinter is the first one aimed at the U.S. market.

Read more