New Mercedes CLS revealed

This is the new Mercedes CLS, replacement for the car that introduced the four-door coupe format to European executive saloons just three years ago in 2007.

Like the original this is a long, low car with a short sloping boot and a long bonnet - and judging by these images, it would appear to have the potential to be just as visually controversial.

The dramatic banana curve waistline of the 2007 has mostly been flattened, your eye instead drawn to a pair of side panel creases that converge on a bulbous rear wheel-arch similar to the S Class's. If all this makes it sound a little odd, then you get the idea.

Also debuting with this CLS is Mercedes' new front-end look, featuring a low, wide grille that thrusts well forward of a pair of neat and relatively unobtrusive headlights packed with no less than 71 LEDs apiece. The result is certainly assertive, but it's an easier style to get used to than a new CLS from the side.

This latest Mercedes goes on sale here this March, following a turntable twirl at next month's Paris show. As before, its based on the running gear of the E Class saloon but it sits lower and longer. Its wheelbase is longer than before to tackle the outgoing model's poor rear legroom, and it remains a strict four-seater. The dashboard is a variation on the E Class saloon's, but with a little more flash.

Besides presenting Mercedes' new face the CLS is also important for debuting a new range of engines under an initiative called 'Move', Mercedes having fallen behind in the race to reduce CO2 and clean up exhausts.

A new narrow-angle V6 featuring direct injection and stop-start technology is said to reduce fuel consumption by up to 24 percent, while a V8, downsized from 5.4 to 4.7-litres and kitted with twin turbos, produces a third more torque, 12 percent more power and reduced consumption and emissions.

Diesels include Mercedes' latest 231bhp direct injection 3.0-litre V6, while a new 2.1-litre turbo four promises excellent fuel consumption. All these engines come with Mercedes' seven-speed automatic, and stop-start systems are expected on most if not all versions.

Word is that Mercedes is also developing an estate version, absent from the previous CLS line-up, which should debut within a year or so. This version was previously previewed with the Shooting Brake concept, unveiled at the Beijing show last April.
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