Mercedes-Benz will launch the new CL-Class in autumn 2006. Based on the latest S-Class styling and technology the newest verson of the popular four-seat coupé is the seventh since the 300 S of 1952.
The two-door model combines cutting-edge Mercedes innovations such as Active Body Control (ABC) suspension system, Intelligent Light System with five lighting functions and PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection - all coming as standard. Two powerful engines with eight or 12 cylinders are available, both featuring increases in output and torque.
The company is at pains to emphasise the heritage of the car and its links with coupés past. The slightly downwards-tapering C-pillar configuration is a typical feature of the large Mercedes Coupés whose roots go right back to the 1950s: in 1956 the 220 S/SE Coupé (W 180/W 128 model series) first captured attention with this design, and a few years later the concept was further refined in the successor model, the 220 SE Coupé (W 111/112).
Other design features which were already acclaimed back then have also been reinterpreted for the CL-Class, keeping alive the large coupé tradition of the Mercedes-Benz brand: the fully retractable side windows, for instance, whose continuous aperture is not interrupted by a B-pillar, and the large, curving panoramic rear window. In the early days this was a typical styling feature of the Mercedes Coupés.
Compared with the outgoing model, the new Mercedes-Benz top-of-the-range coupé has grown slightly in every dimension. 5065 mm long, 1871 mm wide and 1418 mm high, the body is 75 mm longer, 14 mm wider and 20 mm higher than before, providing even more comfort and space on all four seats. The boot capacity has been increased by 40 litres to 490 litres (VDA measuring method).
The newly developed integral seats in the CL-Class provide maximum individual seating comfort. "Integral" means that all components of the seatbelt system are incorporated directly into the seat; hence the seats form an important component in the occupant protection system. The standard specification already provides electric adjustment of the fore-aft setting, incline of the seat and backrest, seat height, head restraint and length of the front seat cushions. Pneumatic lumbar supports allow the driver and front passenger to adjust the backrest contour to suit their build and consequently reduce the strain on the back muscles.
Optional extras include luxury seats with active ventilation (standard in the CL 600) that provide even more individual comfort, along with the further enhanced multicontour seats with nine air cushions, and dynamic multicontour seats with massage function (standard in the CL 600).
Amongst the raft of technology employed in the new car is a newly developed parking guidance system (optional extra) that works on the basis of radar technology: the sensors measure the length of a parking space when driving past and show on the cockpit display whether there is sufficient space to park. The display then includes a symbolic representation of the parking manoeuvre; guide lines show the required steering angle and indicate the path into the parking space. In this way the system helps the driver park inch perfect.
Night view assist with infrared headlamps, reversing camera, voice control for car radio, DVD changer and navigation as well as tyre pressure monitoring system are other optional Mercedes assistance systems.
The car has the most powerful Mercedes engines to date. The eight-cylinder powerplant in the CL 500 delivers 285 kW/388 hp and generates a maximum torque of 530 Nm from 2800 rpm. As such the newly developed engine outperforms the existing V8 unit by 26 per cent in terms of output and 15 per cent when it comes to torque. Equipped with four-valve technology, variably adjustable shifting camshafts, a two-stage intake module and tumble flaps in the intake ducts, the new V8 is among the most advanced, powerful engines in its displacement class. The CL 500 accelerates from zero to 62.5 mph in just 5.4 seconds (previous model: 6.3 seconds).
The new CL 600 has an ultra-modern biturbo 12-cylinder engine under the bonnet. Mercedes engineers have enhanced numerous details of the power unit and, compared to the predecessor model, have increased output by 12 kW/17 hp to 380 kW/517 hp. The maximum torque, already on tap from 1900 rpm, has been improved further by 30 Nm to 830 Nm and remains constant up to 3500 rpm. The new CL 600 accelerates from 0 to 62.5 mph in just 4.6 seconds (previous model: 4.8 seconds). And despite the significant performance boost the V12 engine is 0.6 mpg more efficient than the outgoing model.
Mercedes-Benz has combined the standard-fit automatic transmission with the new DIRECT SELECT gearshift: the driver can select the transmission settings "P", "N", "R" and "D" by nudging a lever on the steering column. Operating commands are transmitted electronically by wire.
The two-door model replaces the world-beating outgoing model, which joins the ranks of the best-selling luxury coupés with around 46,800 units sold.
The history of the large Mercedes Coupés stretches back to 1952 when Mercedes-Benz launched the legendary 300 S Coupé -- a "car for the world's elite" was the verdict of the motoring press in its day. In 1956 it was followed by the 220 S Coupé as part of the W 180 model series, which fired the public’s imagination with its unitised "Pontoon" body in particular. And in 1961 the derder 220 SEb Coupé (W 111 model series) took up the baton with its stylish elongated body.
In 1981 the SEC Coupés from the C 126 model series were based on the then S-Class and remained in the Mercedes-Benz line-up for 10 years with over 74,000 units produced. In 1992 the Geneva Motor Show was host to the launch of the successor model (C 140 model series), powered for the first time by a 290-kW/394-hp twelve-cylinder engine. The predecessor to the new CL-Class Coupé celebrated its world premiere in March 1999, setting new standards with leading-edge Mercedes innovations such as the Active Body Control (ABC) suspension system and bi-xenon headlamps.
Mercedes-Benz has built over 178,000 luxury coupés since 1952.
Text - Classic Driver
Photos - DaimlerChrysler
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