When Mercedes-Benz executives huddled together four years ago to develop plans for a brand-new model, they wisely looked no further than their own stable for ideas. After all, there they had the S-Class, Mercedes’ executive sedan, which had become as common a business accessory as an attaché case, and the CL coupe, which was among the most exotic gran turismos on the market.
Recognizing the attributes of each car, Mercedes has combined the practicality of the sedan and the sexiness of the coupe—and even fused their designations—to create the 2006 CLS, which will be available for delivery later this year. The four-door coupe, as Mercedes is calling the CLS, is the first entirely new car from the German automaker since 1997, when it launched the SLK roadster and CLK coupe. (The G-Class SUV arrived in the United States in 2002, but the Gelaendewagen, the name it goes by outside of America, has been available since the late 1970s in overseas markets.)
The base-model CLS500, which will carry a price that falls between those of the E-Class ($50,000) and S-Class ($75,000), will be powered by a 302 hp V-8 engine that develops 339 ft lbs of torque. The engine will be mated to Mercedes’ new 7-speed automatic transmission, which debuted in the most recent S-Class and CL-Class cars. The CLS will have a 6-second time in the zero-to-60 run and top out at 155 mph.
For those seeking a more exclusive and more powerful CLS500, AMG, Mercedes’ in-house tuner, is working on a version, the CLS65, that will feature a twin-turbocharged 6-liter V-12 engine capable of developing more than 600 hp and 700 ft lbs of torque. The car will be priced in excess of $100,000.