Coupe: Stylish, sporty two-door presentation by automakers, designed to energize sales and attract drivers passionate about the motoring experience.
Saloon (sedan): Usually upright, boxy styling on four-door platform, rarely evoking enthusiasm or excitement, suitable for family transportation.
CLS550: unique synthesis of the two.
Mercedes-Benz gave its design team just two things when they were set with the task of creating this vehicle – the concept of a four-door coupe and a blank sheet of paper to create it on.
What they came away with is a unique product that fits very nicely in between the automaker’s E- and S-Class cars – the new CLS-Class – complete with long flowing body lines, strong wide stance and curvaceous, flowing roof. Think baby Maybach here – form with function in the truest sense, you might even say.
Mercedes-Benz created an entirely new segment for the luxury sport sedan market, one that saw others quickly follow.
The CLS-Class offers two powertrains for North America – the CLS550 (that we tested) and the sportier AMG version CLS63.
Engineers did not skimp on technology as the CLS incorporates all the German automaker has to offer lately. Airmatic Dual Control air suspension, Thermotronic four-zone climate control, Sensotronic electrohydraulic braking system, ESP electronic stability control, Bi-Xenon headlamps with Active Curve Lighting, Tele-Aid emergency calling and communication system, front and rear side airbags, head protection curtains, rollover sensor, adjustable power front seats with active ventilation and heating, power rear window shade, illuminated multifunction steering wheel, DVD-based navigation system and harman/kardon premium audio system just to name a few.
The CLS-Class is Mercedes’ first new segment since they introduced the M-Class SUV here in the states in 1997. The CLS is a true four-seater as only four seating positions are provided. A center console separates both front and rear rows. Our test model was outfitted with the convenient power trunk opener/closer feature as well.
The electronic systems that control most of the vehicle’s mechanical and operational functions remove the driver from the harsh road conditions while keeping the vehicle firmly planted in its lane, and while not providing much in the way of driver feedback, they instruct the automobile what to do much faster than by traditional mechanical systems.
Our CLS550 tester offered almost a floating sensation when behind the wheel even with the Airmatic suspension set to maximum sport. I did however notice a slight left-to-right pitching when traveling on asphalt thoroughfares, something I had not felt in other models from the manufacturer. Not enough to make one seasick or anything, just noticeably different from other luxury models – and something I grew used to in my week in the car.
The usual allotment of wood and leather Mercedes-Benz puts in its vehicles seems to have been increased for the CLS, especially with the nearly door-to-door expanse of gorgeous high-gloss laurel wood on the dash panel.
Despite a government-imposed gas-guzzler tax, the CLS550 and its awesome 382hp, 391 lb. ft. of torque 5.5-liter V-8 achieves a highway fuel economy rating of 21 mpg. The upgraded engine is backed by a slick seven-speed automatic gearbox with manual shift mode. The CLS550 rides on 18-inch five-twin spoke alloy wheels shod with high-performance tires.
Pricing for the 2009 CLS550 from Mercedes-Benz begins at $68,930. As tested, (courtesy a few nice accessory items and that gas guzzler tax) the final sticker for this CLS550 is $77,135.
If you find yourself torn between choosing the sporty attitude of a coupe and the functionality of a sedan, check out the fabulous form and fantastic function of the new Mercedes CLS-Class.