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By New Car Test Drive

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The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS represents the first major redesign of the four-door coupe. The all-new CLS won’t change much in its basic, elegant character when it goes on sale summer of 2011. The production version was unveiled at the Paris motor show in October 2010.


The CLS started a trend when it was launched in October 2004,
introducing what is often called the four-door coupe. While it has four
side doors like a sedan, the CLS also has the swoopy character and
flowing profile of a classic two-door coupe.

Seating four, the CLS features bucket-style rear seats and a rear center
console, rather than the typical three-place rear bench seat, The CLS
has been praised as one of the best looking four-doors anywhere, and
followed by similarly styled sedans such as the Jaguar XF and Volkswagen
CC.

The 2012 CLS-Class includes models, both powered by new biturbo,
direct-injection V8 engines: The 4.6-liter CLS550 engine produces 402
horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, according to Mercedes-Benz USA,
and the high-performance CLS63 AMG is powered by a 5.5-liter version of
the new V8 that’s rated at 518 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. All models
will come with a 7-speed automatic transmission and steering wheel shift
paddles.

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The next-generation CLS won’t substantially move the current car in a
new direction, but its proportions are as spectacular as ever, with a
long hood, tightly styled frameless side windows and a dynamic, sweeping
roof that flows into a subtly sculpted rear deck.

Yet a second CLS body style will push the sedan-as-coupe idea further,
resurrecting the concept of the Shooting Brake (or as Mercedes prefers,
the Shooting Break). Shooting Brake models were made popular in the
1960s and 1970s, particularly by British automakers.

These cars were two-door coupes with a roofline that extended further
back, over what would be the trunk, culminating in a wagon-style rear
liftgate. They retained the basic proportions of a coupe, but added easy
access cargo space for luggage or shooting gear (hence the name
Shooting Brake). In essence, the second variant of the next CLS will be
very much like a four-door Shooting Brake. This version will be rolled
out in various markets around the world over a two-year period after the
regular four-door CLS is launched.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS will be slightly shorter than the current
CLS, roughly the same size as the current E-Class sedan. It will share
its mechanical underpinnings with the E-Class line, but it will look
very different.

In front, the 2012 CLS adapts the minimalist-style grille introduced on
the current SLS AMG super car, with a single center slat and large
Mercedes star. It will be the first production car to offer full-LED
headlamps, with LED elements, rather than conventional bulbs for all
lighting components, including the main beams.

In side view, the 2012 CLS features prominent wheel arches, a high
coupe-style belt or window line and narrow side windows. Its roof tapers
gently from a high point near the center of the passenger cabin to well
past the rear wheels. And despite its racy lines, the rear doors on the
next CLS extend much further back over the rear wheels than those on
the current model. That should mean easier entry for rear seat
passengers, and more rear headroom.

The passenger cabin will have four identically shaped seats, with a
similar level of adjustment front and rear, and a full-cabin center
console. Individual sections of the leather dashboard are sewn together
by hand in a process that takes several hours, according to Mercedes,
and then heat-shrunk over the structure underneath.

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In addition to Mercedes’s usual choice of wood, metal and leather trims,
the 2012 CLS will deliver a convergence of new safety systems rolled
out separately with recent Mercedes model introductions. Besides
Mercedes usual, extensive array of airbags, the next CLS will offer no
less than 11 active safety systems, including lane departure warning,
blind spot warning, driver drowsiness warning, automatic high beam
control, infra-red night vision cameras and automatic braking based on
distance and closing speed.

The new CLS will arrive in U.S. showrooms in the summer of 2011, according to Mercedes-Benz USA.

On Sale: Summer 2011
Expected Pricing: $71,300-$94,900

For more information, go to www.mercedes-benz.com/.

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