With the 2019 CLS Coupe, Mercedes-Benz continues to willfully flout generally accepted car-naming conventions. But when your car looks this good, the name is a little easier to overlook. The CLS sedan debuted in 2005 with a coupe-like profile that made it a distinctive alternative to the lockstep design of midsize German sedans of the time. Since then, the CLS' design has been copied extensively by other automakers. Now the pioneer is back with the third-generation, fully redesigned 2019 CLS Coupe.
2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupe First Look
Two Turbos and an Electric Motor Pack a One-Two-Three Punch
Though the exterior has received significant changes, the swoopy roof maintains the silhouette that made the original CLS a design standout. On the other hand, the headlights will be polarizing. At first they appear to sit too low, giving the fascia a droopy look, but they grow on you quickly. The rest of the body has smooth and gentle curves that are a dramatic departure from the sharp creases that characterized German vehicles for so long. The overall look falls on the conservative side, but that should help the CLS age gracefully.
The first variant to go on sale is the CLS 450, which receives motivation from an all-new, twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine (362 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque) and a nine-speed automatic transmission. That Mercedes is using BMW-esque inline-six is interesting enough on its own, but there's an additional trick — it's joined by a powerful electric motor and battery. In conjunction with a 48-volt electrical system, the setup is capable of contributing an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque.
As in many mild hybrid cars, the CLS' motor and battery add benefits such as occasional engine-off cruising at freeway speeds, smoother stop-start operation and better fuel economy. The extra oomph also improves acceleration: Mercedes says the all-wheel-drive CLS 450 can hit 60 mph in about 4.8 seconds. But you're more likely to notice the eager power delivery from the electric motor around town. Mercedes also uses the motor and battery system to power the air conditioning, further improving efficiency.
The new CLS comes outfitted with Mercedes' latest suite of advanced driver assistance features, from adaptive cruise control and steering assistance to a system that can adjust vehicle speed in conjunction with posted speed limits. Mercedes says its new Energizing Comfort feature aligns climate control, seat functions (heat, ventilation and massage), interior lighting and music to one of five preconfigured mood settings, which range from "Warmth" to "Joy" to "Vitality." There are also onboard video and audio guides that walk you through various stretching techniques while you're at the wheel.
The interior has seating for five (a first for the CLS), frameless windows and customizable interior lighting. A 12.3-inch center entertainment display comes standard, and you can option a digital 12.3-inch gauge cluster. Putting the two together gives the dash the clean appearance of a superwide tablet interface, and we look forward to seeing how it looks with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The overall design looks elegant, and you can be sure there will be a variety of attractive leather and trim options.
Supporting this new engine and technology is a chassis mostly based on the E-Class. The two share the same wheelbase, but the CLS is a little wider, and a lot lower and longer. The changes in exterior dimensions include larger front and rear overhangs and result mostly from styling goals rather than benefits to interior space. The CLS' headroom and cargo volume are tighter than the E-Class', but not by much.
Our initial impression of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupe is definitely positive. The CLS 450 looks to have the right design, performance and tech to entice luxury sedan shoppers. We'll find out how it fully compares to the Audi A7, BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and Porsche Panamera when it goes on sale in fall 2018.