Mercedes-Benz provided an advance look at the new CLS in January at the Detroit auto show, where Gorden Wagener, head of design for Mercedes, unveiled a raw metal model of the car, polished and gleaming like a prop from a “Terminator” film.
Now the company has released photos of the production version of the car, which it will reveal at the Paris auto show in late September.
The new CLS is designated a 2012 model. It is more than just a successor to the previous CLS, which went on sale in 2004 and made popular the idea of the modern four-door coupe, with long low roof and flowing lines. (One example of another such car was the Volkswagen CC, so much like the CLS that some designers joked the CC name stood for “carbon copy.”)
The new design also offers a sketch of the company’s new design language, according to Mr. Wagener.
“The new CLS points the way forward for the future perceptible design idiom of Mercedes-Benz,” he said in a news release. “At the same time it takes its inspiration from the great tradition of stylish, refined sportiness which has always been a feature of Mercedes coupes.”
Its prominent grille is dominated by the large central star and echoes that of the Mercedes SLS AMG, which in turn takes off from 1950s racers and SL300. Some of the new design elements have been enunciated on the SLS sports car.
Compared to the earlier CLS, the hood seems to have grown proportionally longer and the rear shorter, so at first glance the car suggests the American personal coupes of the 1960s, like the Buick Riviera or Cadillac El Dorado.
There is a new tautness to the body, with character lines rising along the belt line and low on the side — and one flowing the other way. The so called “dropping line,” running downward from the top of the front wheel arches to the rear takes inspiration from historic Mercedes sports cars. The two directions visually balance each other out, counterpointing and interlocking dramatically.
The face is accented with glaring, staring LED headlights — each with 71 points of light. The LEDs are arrayed in three arrowlike forms. The taillights, also LEDs, wrap around into the rear, tucking under the high back and giving the rear end its own face, with eyes angled like a snake’s.
The rear shoulder line is high and athletic. The oversize rear-wheel arches visually express rear-wheel drive. They are almost pontoon like in size and shape, and some drivers may take a long time to get used to them. The company said that “the flared wheel arches resemble the powerful thighs of a feline predator waiting to pounce.”