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LA show: Mercedes outs muscular new CLS

Show and go: Mercedes-Benz’s third-generation CLS is set to debut Mercedes’ new inline engines, including a high-performance AMG version with electric motor booster.

No V8 but plenty of oomph promised in all-new Mercedes CLS ‘hybrid’


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30 Nov 2017

THE car that started the four-door-coupe craze 14 years ago, the Mercedes-Benz CLS, entered its third generation with the unveiling of the all-new 2018 model at the Los Angeles motor show overnight.

Sleeker and more muscular than before, the latest low-roof CLS will arrive in Australia in the second quarter of next year, at least in its basic petrol and diesel variants.

The six-cylinder diesel and petrol engines are all new, returning Mercedes to the inline format beloved by Benz customers before the German company made the switch the V6 powerplants.

This time, however, the engines get an extra boost via a form of mild-hybrid technology employing a 48-volt electric starter motor-generator, dubbed EQ Boost.

Instead of a V8, the top-of-the-pile AMG CLS variant this time will get a newly developed hi-po version of this inline turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor.

So far, details are scant, but the CLS53 4Matic’s powertrain – to be shared with the new AMG E-Class sedan and wagon – is expected to turn out about 320kW of power, 20kW more than the current CLS500’s 4.7-litre twin-turbo V8.

What’s more, the electric boost can lift maximum torque by a further 250Nm while adding another 25kW of power for short periods. It can even propel the vehicle on electric power for a time during coasting.

If you still want a V8, help is on the way in the form of a four-door version of Mercedes-AMG’s GT sportscar, which should be equipped with a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with something north of 400kW.

More is expected to be revealed about the AMG CLS53 and its powertrain at the Detroit motor show in January.

However, don’t expect a Shooting Brake version of CLS, as the wagon variant reportedly has been dropped due to slow sales. The four-door version at least now has five seats in place of the previous four.

CLS pricing and specification details are yet to be announced for Australia, with Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific public relations, product and corporate communications senior manager David McCarthy telling GoAuto the local line-up was still being settled.

“We will have pricing and further specifications closer to launch,” he said.

“At the moment, we are still not quite sure exactly when that launch will be, as we don’t yet have production dates.”

More than any other Mercedes sedan, the CLS is about style, and the new model has it in spades. Sharp edges and lines have been reduced, allowing the flowing shapes and folds of the panels to create the form.

Daimler AG chief design officer Gorden Wagener describes the design philosophy as “sensual purity”.

“We have reduced its DNA in an extremely puristic way and at the same time emotionally charged it with elegant beauty,” he said.

The design borrows heavily from Mercedes’ latest coupes, including the GT. New LED headlights flank a diamond grille that sits above three big air openings – a look that will be shared by more Mercedes cars in future.

The platform is shared with the new E-Class, but the bent belt line and sloping roof is all CLS.

Despite the sleek looks, the aerodynamic drag figure is 0.26Cd – down on the E-Class sedan’s 0.23.

At the LA show, Mercedes wheeled out three all-wheel-drive in-line six-cylinder variants – the diesel CLS350d 4Matic, diesel CLS400d 4Matic and petrol CLS450 4Matic.

The diesel 350d turns out 210kW of power and 600Nm of torque, well above the 150kW/500Nm of the current 2.1-litre four-cylinder unit currently offered in CLS in Australia.

The CLS400d 4Matic steps this up to 250kW and 700Nm. Both of these diesel variants are said to consume 5.6 litres per 100km – a big improvement over the current 7.5L/100km.

The only petrol engine revealed to date, the 450 4Matic, develops 270kW of power and 500Nm of toque, 25kW and 20Nm more than the V6 engine in the CLS400 it replaces.

Fuel consumption is a claimed 7.5L/100km – an improvement over the 8.0L/100km of the 400.

Petrol and diesel four-cylinder variants will also be offered, although Mercedes has yet to say if these will make it to Australia this time.

Inside, the CLS has a sporty feel, with turbine-like air vents and an illuminated LED line sweeping around the cabin. This ambient lighting can be set to 64 colours, and the colour automatically gets warmer or cooler when the air-conditioner temperature is adjusted up or down.

The seats are unique to CLS, gaining piping and sumptuous leather finishes. The outboard rear seats are designed to resemble the front seats, but this means the centre rear seat is humped, and thus purely for emergencies.

The rear seat can split-fold 40/20/40, opening up the boot which, with the seats up, holds 520 litres of luggage.

To tempt early adopters, the CLS will be launched with an Edition 1 package that includes a number of cosmetic extras, including copper-coloured accents and black Nappa leather upholstery and trim.

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