Top CLS to be AMG mild hybrid

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Flagship version of the new CLS will be a mild-hybrid Mercedes-AMG with 429bhp

The new Mercedes-Benz CLS will spawn a sporting CLS53 model from its AMG performance division, the maker confirmed at the car’s unveiling at the Los Angeles motor show. The new CLS is the third generation of the saloon model that Mercedes insists on billing as a four-door coupé.

The new CLS53 will join the mechanically identical E53 Coupé and E53 Cabriolet models in a three-strong line-up of new AMG models to be unveiled at the Detroit motor show next month. All three feature a newly developed in-line six-cylinder engine with mild-hybrid properties.

The new powertrain will usher in electric boosting via an integrated starter motor for added performance potential in Mercedes’ answer to the likes of the upcoming Audi S7 and the recently introduced BMW M550i.

The new CLS will be saloon only. The Shooting Brake will not be replaced

Mercedes plans to replace the existing CLS63 with the forthcoming twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 production version of the five-door Mercedes-AMG GT Concept, so the CLS53 will be the top model in the new CLS line-up. Below it will sit the CLS350, CLS450, CLS300d, CLS350d, and CLS400d.

With more than 350,000 sales to date, the CLS has proved popular since its introduction in 2005. But with prospective customers gravitating more and more towards Mercedes’ growing line-up of SUV models, worldwide sales of the CLS have slowed significantly in recent times.

As a result, the new model, codename d C257, will be produced in saloon form only. The CLS Shooting Brake has failed to live up to early sales expectations following its introduction in 2012 and will not be replaced.

As with its predecessors, the latest CLS draws heavily on the current E-Class, from which it borrows its platform, drivelines, chassis, electric architecture and more. Predictably, Mercedes promises improvements in performance, handling, comfort and safety. At the same time, it says the swoopy saloon also ushers in a new exterior design style that will be adopted by other Mercedes models in the not-too-distant future.

The new CLS is slightly bigger all round compared with the outgoing version, which has been on sale since 2010. The latest version is 4988mm long (51mm more than its predecessor), 1890mm wide (9mm broader) and 1428mm tall (10mm extra).

The new saloon is also said to feature a 61mm-longer wheelbase, at 2935mm, allowing for larger rear door apertures and easier access to the back seats.

The interior of the new CLS is no longer as distinctively styled or quite as eye-catching as those found in its predecessors, which had their own uniquely styled facia. To provide additional economies of scale with other Mercedes models, it receives a lightly reworked version of the latest E-Class’s dashboard, complete with a so-called Widescreen Cockpit with twin 12.3in displays for the instruments and infotainment system, and a multi-function steering wheel from the facelifted S-Class.

The CLS also gets a centre rear seat as standard, giving it five-seat capability for the first time. The rear-seat backrests fold and split 40/20/40 to extend the length of the boot, which has the same volume as the second-generation model, at a nominal 520 litres.

As with the E-Class, the new CLS has five standard driving assistant functions, including Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Assist.

Buyers can also opt for a Driving Assistance Package that adds a further eight driver assistance systems, which cumulatively provide semi-autonomous properties, with hands-off steering for up to 30sec, automatic adjustment of speed before bends and junctions and automatic lane changing.

The CLS line-up will initially comprise petrol and diesel in-line six-cylinder engines. All are turbocharged and come mated to the German car maker’s own nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox and 4Matic four-wheel-drive system as standard. Other powerplants are planned, including base four-cylinder units.

The most powerful unit at launch is the 3.0-litre petrol motor found in the CLS450 4Matic and featuring a 48V electric system and EQ Boost integrated starter motor to give it mild hybrid properties. The CLS450 has a claimed 0-62mph time of 4.8sec and a governed 155mph top speed.

It delivers a nominal 362bhp and 369lb ft, with an additional 22bhp and 184lb ft available for short periods when the integrated starter motor is triggered.

The other two models at launch, the CLS350d and CLS400d, share the new 2.9-litre diesel engine in two states of tune.

Shortly after the CLS’s launch, Mercedes plans to introduce the CLS350, which runs a new turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine with electronic boosting qualities.

Also planned is the CLS300d, which employs Mercedes’ widely used turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine tuned to deliver 242bhp.

Details surround the range-topping CLS53 remains scarce, although AMG boss Tobias Moers confirmed at the LA show that its turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine and integrated starter motor will deliver a combined 429bhp. He also revealed that the ’53’ nomenclature will feature only on AMG models which use a petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.

Underpinned by the same chassis used for the E-Class, the CLS offers three different suspension set-ups.

Order books open for the CLS this month ahead of deliveries in March 2018. The entry-level CLS350d will start from around £57,000, which is considerably more than the outgoing model. However, the new base model comes as standard with four-wheel drive and a six-cylinder engine. The four-cylinder variant arriving later will be cheaper.




Why is this CLS better-looking than the last?

“It follows the latest themes in our design philosophy. The first-generation CLS was allowed to look like a design sketch. We’ve kept that essence but cleaned it up, taken the lines out. The time of creases is definitely over.”

What consideration have you given to aerodynamics with the CLS?

“We keep saying our shapes are not only beautiful but intelligent. There is this taper in from the C-pillar and a strong shoulder. The tapering of the greenhouse is super-good for aerodynamics. We’ve also managed to avoid having a rear spoiler or wing.”

What design elements of the CLS will be used elsewhere?

“The Panamericana grille, though different to the one found on AMGs, will find its way onto other models, as will the headlights. They are narrow in height and small and give a high-tech look.”

Now the CLS has been revealed, what’s next?

“We’ve been working on the CLS for five years. Designers always work well ahead. Now I’m working on cars for 2021, 2022 and beyond, looking at studies and different architectures. We have 50 cars to work on.”