Given the hypercompetitive, hyperimitative dynamic among Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi, there was no way that a successful new niche model like the Mercedes CLS could remain unanswered. Indeed, Audi is readying its slope-roofed A7 Sportback to slot between the A6 and A8 sedans, just as the CLS sits between the E-class and the S-class. BMW at first pursued a different strategy. Its CS, previewed by the well-received 2007 Shanghai auto show concept, was to be positioned above the 7-series and would be joined by a two-door roadster/coupe (filling the spot abdicated by the Z8). But the project fell victim to the recession.
Now, however, it's been resurrected, albeit in less grandiose form. The new CS, as a four-door coupe only, will become part of the 6-series family, alongside the traditional two-door coupe and the cabrio. The change in plans means that the BMW won't arrive before 2012. The Audi and a second-generation Mercedes, meanwhile, are both expected late this year.
- Georg Kacher