Passion of a coupe, practicality of a sedan
Page 1: Introduction
IRVINE, CA - What to do? The sensible, left side of your brain knows that you need a four-door sedan, one that has room enough in the rear for your carpool buddies who don't appreciate having to climb over seats to get settled in with their morning coffee and random thoughts. Yet the artistic, right side of your cranium wants a sleek, two-door coupe. Sexy. Uninhibited. You want to project an image that's as young and hip as you feel. Forget responsibilities. Have fun.
Mercedes-Benz feels your pain. The Vision CLS concept, introduced at the 2003 Frankfurt International Motor Show, was an exercise blending the functionality of a sedan with the visual impact of a coupe. Thanks to positive response from the press and consumers alike, the company has decided to make the Vision CLS a reality.
Based on the platform of the excellent E-Class sedan, the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class will only be three inches shorter overall, relying on the rakish slope of the roof, small rear doors and its teardrop silhouette to convey the image of a coupe. Mercedes says that the intent of the CLS-Class is to elegantly blend the "strong, emotive charisma" of a coupe with the "comfort and practicality" of a sedan.
The 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class certainly looks like a coupe, thanks to its minimized greenhouse, frameless side glass, arcing sheetmetal and low-slung roofline. The rear backlight sweeps seamlessly into the trunk area, while short front and rear overhangs lend an assertive stance. The wheel wells are stuffed with handsome alloy wheels, imparting the impression that this is a solid piece of machinery with no extraneous gaps or flourishes. The headlamps are more reminiscent of the Mercedes S-Class rather than the circular figure eights found on most other cars in the Benz stable, providing a clear distinction between the CLS-Class and the platform-donor E-Class. As on the automaker's coupes and convertibles, the three-pointed star is mounted in the center of the grille rather than on the hood as an ornament, signifying the sporting intentions of the CLS-Class.Two models will be available when the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class arrives later this year. The Mercedes CLS 350 is equipped with a 272-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine that accelerates the car to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, thanks in part to a thick wad of torque available between 2,400 and 5,000 rpm. The CLS 350 rides on 17-inch, five twin-spoke alloy wheels wearing 245/45 tires.
The Mercedes CLS 500 is juiced by a 306-horsepower, 5.0-liter V8 that rushes the car to 60 mph in six seconds. Standard equipment includes 18-inch five-spoke wheels with 245/40 tires.
Page 3: Choices
Both versions of the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class are equipped with a seven-speed automatic transmission, which can be optioned with a manual shift mode. Speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering and Sensotronic four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with Brake Assist are also standard. This electro-hydraulic braking system is shared with the E-Class and has been criticized for its lack of pedal feel, inconsistent pedal response and inability to provide smooth stops. We hope Mercedes has improved the system that will be applied to the CLS-Class. Also included in the price of entry is a stability and traction control system, and a tire pressure monitor.Safety gear includes adaptive two-stage front airbags, side-impact airbags for the front occupants, side curtain airbags and a new sensor system for the seatbelts and airbags that works to detect accident severity more quickly than ever. After introduction, a Pre-Safe system will be optional on the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class. According to Mercedes, Pre-Safe predicts an impending collision and tensions the seatbelts, adjusts the front passenger seat to a more favorable crash positioning, and automatically closes the sunroof. The company says that Pre-Safe will give the 2005 CLS-Class "reflexes," in much the same way a person instinctively defends herself when threatened.
Inside, the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is trimmed in your choice of four colors, three types of leather and two kinds of wood. Leather and fabric seats come standard, with Exclusive and Nappa leather upholstery available. Walnut wood trim covers much of the dash, and can be replaced with a dark "laurel" wood that is available in a high-gloss or silk matte finish. Black, Basalt Gray, Sunset Red and Cashmere interior colors are available.
Page 4: Interior
Conveying vital statistics about vehicle speed, engine speed, fuel level and coolant temperature, the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class features black instrument dials with chrome rings. Designed to resemble a chronometer, the gauge cluster features a large central speedometer flanked by a tachometer and a clock. Outer displays measure fuel level and coolant temperature.Power front seats are standard, with optional dynamic multi-contour seating optional. The optional seats include air chambers that inflate or deflate to provide the proper support depending upon the driving situation. Also available is a seat memory feature, a massage function and active seat ventilation to keep your backside cool on warm, muggy days.
Rear occupants get individual bucket seats with a storage console and cupholders. How do the rear seats measure up? The Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is more comfortable than most coupes, but in comparison to conventional sedans there are compromises made to accommodate the rakish roofline. For example, the CLS-Class offers 33 inches of rear legroom, but it doesn't measure up to the 35.6 inches available inside the E-Class. There's no room to stretch out in the CLS-Class, but cutouts in the front seatbacks do offer a bit of extra knee space. Because of the dramatic roofline, one must duck and angle the head to climb aboard. Rear headroom is also dramatically reduced from that of a sedan - taller rear passengers may find their heads rubbing against the headliner, and back seat occupants won't have much of a view, since the thick, angled C-pillars block outward visibility.
Trunk space is commendable, holding 16 cubic feet of cargo, and the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class employs a new scratch-resistant paint treatment for a more durable finish. By integrating ceramic particles within the paint, a thick protective network forms on the outer layer when the paint dries to provide three times the resistance to scratches.
Selected standard equipment for the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 includes heated auto-dimming side mirrors, an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror, outside temperature gauge, projector-beam headlights, and rain-sensing wipers. A Thermatic automatic climate control system assesses ambient temperature and humidity levels to keep the cabin at a set temperature, and it includes a filtering system to limit dust, pollen and odors.
The 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500 adds a Thermotronic four-zone climate system that even registers the position of the sun in its attempts to maintain four distinct occupant zone temperatures. Also included on the top CLS 500 model is an Airmatic DC suspension that replaces steel springs with air springs for a smoother, more controlled ride and handling mix. Both of these features can be ordered on the CLS 350.
Though well equipped at base sticker price, the options list for the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class is extensive. In addition to items already mentioned, either the CLS 350 or the CLS 500 can be equipped with:
-- Photos courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA