When we heard Mercedes-Benz would be showing a design concept of the next-generation CLS at the Detroit auto show, we naturally expected the Germans to roll out some form of a clay model concept car. Instead, Mercedes has taken a much more abstract approach, presenting a sculpture that appears like a cloth draped over a car.
Mercedes' press release claims, "The form of the automobile, presented here in such an artistically exaggerated and cryptic way, is only vaguely perceptible." We beg to differ, as the silver sculpture reveals crisp forms that are easily visualized as a rolling vehicle. Broad rear haunches, well-defined fender flares, and clear character lines, along with the current CLS's shape, leave little to the imagination. If anyone is still confused if it's a car, they'll immediately recognize the sculpture's origin once they get a glimpse of the front and the production-ready two-bar chrome grille with giant Benz logo.
The sculpture does leave some mystery in the front and rear fascias where the form flows into a single flat plane and is masked by molded-in ripples. The design sculpture's deep character line slopes down as it flows back, harkening 1930s art-deco design.
The next CLS should launch as a 2012 model, but we expect to see the car bow at an auto show before the end of the year. We expect that the next Mercedes-Benz CLS will arrive with an engine very similar to the current 5.5-liter V-8.