2009 Mercedes-Benz CLS-class

David Yochum
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Don't place that order for the upcoming Volkswagen Passat CC just yet. Mercedes-Benz blessed its own four-door "coupe" (mentioned as one of six modern cars in Automobile Magazine's 25 Most Beautiful Cars issue) with a few updates for 2009, including one that throws a jab at VW.

Not to be overshadowed by a newer, four-door for the masses, Mercedes' segment-defining, exclusive CLS gets a revised grille (now with two louvers instead of four), a new rear apron with trapezoid exhaust pipes, a three-spoke steering wheel, a new infotainment system, new side mirrors and taillights outfitted with arrow-shaped LED turn indicators, and perhaps the biggest news, a new 3.0-liter V-6.

Mercedes execs couldn't have been happy to see the VW team taking a page from their CLS design book, so introducing a less powerful V-6-engined model could theoretically help steal a few Passat CC sales in non-USA markets. However, Mercedes doesn't officially recognize the lower-priced V-6 Volkswagen as a direct competitor, and it looks like the CLS and Passat CC V-6 models will only get a chance to be cross-shopped in Europe (America gets only the V-8 CLS).

In an effort to improve the CLS's performance, the 6.3-liter AMG version is now outfitted with a transmission that blips the throttle during downshifts. And using newly redesigned rear exhaust silencers, the CLS63 AMG's pair of twin pipes deliver a raucous bark unheard of in any family sedan - if it doesn't wake the neighbors, it will certainly be a healthy caffeine substitute.

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