A lot has changed since the lithe Mercedes-Benz CLS landed on our collective consciousness in 2004. The Merc’s four-door coupe profile proved to be a popular and profitable shape, inspiring an army of stylish me-too four-door coupes. Despite it’s showroom success, the German automaker has let the CLS rot on the vine, allowing the new-for-2011 second-gen to ride on an old platform, wear an outdated face, pack older powerplants, and sport ancient interior accents for far too long. But the shapely sedan is finally receiving the ground-up redesign it deserves with the arrival of the third-generation model, which was unveiled in the form of the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS450 at the 2017 Los Angeles auto show.
Where past Mercedes sedans carried upright, staid styling, the first CLS was a swoopy, curvaceous shape, starkly standing out from its siblings. The second generation flew a little too close to its contemporary family, failing to command the same visual presence as the first-gen. We’re happy to report the “swoop” is back with the third generation, incorporating a similar profile to the first generation.
Like its previous previous iterations, the 2019 CLS-Class is based on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, sharing its platform, powertrains, and interior packaging. Outside, it’s a larger and more streamlined shape, incorporating a new front grille and sidelines. Around back, the sloped trunk and blended taillights are lifted straight from the S-Class Coupe’s playbook. Overall, it’s a handsome and effortlessly stylish four-door coupe, and reminds us why the original was so excellent to look at.
Inside, a sculptural cabin separates itself from E-Class roots. We spied this redesigned interior in past spyshots, but were unable to see the final product until now. Along with sculpted seats that are cushier and more supportive than the E-Class, front-seat passengers enjoy the CLS’ new optional full-size wrap-around infotainment system that blends two 12.3-inch displays into one seamless unit. Opt out of the full-size display, and the regular infotainment is managed through just one 12.3-inch screen. If you’re forced to sit in the back, you’ll find a new three-abreast arrangement – for the first time ever, the CLS seats five passengers.
Being a new Mercedes product, the CLS is chock full of driver assistance systems found across the range. Check the box for the optional Driver Assistance Package, and the CLS arrives with active steering assist, speed limit assist, brake assist with cross-traffic, evasive steering assist, active blind spot, active lane keeping, and forward collision mitigation. For comfort, the CLS arrives with a stock steel suspension, but an air-ride system is offered as an upgrade.
Powering the new sedan is Mercedes’ minty fresh 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-six. This is the first time the engine has made landfall on our shores, and it brings a basket of new tech along with it. At the baseline, the mill pushes out 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, routed to either the rear or all-four wheels through Mercedes’ own nine-speed automatic transmission. The powertrain runs on a new 48-volt system, augmented by a “starter-generator” integrated into the transmission, providing an additional 21 hp and a whopping 184 lb-ft of torque for short bursts.
Interested? You won’t have to wait long. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS450 hits dealer lots in the U.S. by fall 2018. And if you’ve gotta be the earlybird, the CLS450 launches with a new Edition 1 package, offering a level of design exclusivity that won’t be available past the launch. Inside, “Copper Art” interior fixtures contrast well with black leather surfaces and further copper stitching on the center console, seats, armrests, dashboard, and door linings. Outside, an appearance kit similar to the AMG Line is installed, including 19-inch wheels and special graphics.