The Mercedes-Benz CLS established the "four-door coupe" genre in 2006, eventually inspiring imitators like the Volkswagen CC, the Hyundai Sonata, and the Audi A7. While the sleek shape erodes some of the practicality associated with a typical four-door, the success of the CLS reinforces a simple truth: people want beautiful cars. Mechanically, the CLS is a reskinned E-class with high-end equipment, but in terms of packaging it is a very different car. The CLS is about three inches longer and two inches lower than the E-class, and the sweeping roofline creates a more intimate cabin. The top of the windshield sits closer to passengers and the center console stretches between the rear seats, making the CLS strictly a four-seater. Optional active parking assist steers the CLS into parallel parking spots as the driver controls the throttle and brakes. A twin-turbo 4.6-liter V-8 good for 402 hp powers the base CLS550. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is standard in the CLS550 4Matic. The CLS63 AMG uses the new 5.5-liter twin-turbo V-8 to produce 518 hp and 4.4-second runs to 60 mph. The AMG car also incorporates start-stop technology to eliminate fuel consumption when stopped at traffic lights. Every CLS is equipped with Mercedes' Airmatic suspension and a well-mannered seven-speed automatic transmission. It all adds up to a creamy, polished, and poised car. Factor in the beautiful body of this posh cruiser, and it's easy to see why the CLS sells for $12,000 more than the E-class that it's based on.
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