The large Mercedes Coupés have been synonymous with style and exclusivity in the automotive industry for decades. They set the standard in terms of design and equipment, combine exemplary safety with an outstanding level of comfort and assured handling. In short, Mercedes Coupés are extraordinary dream cars - automobile classics.
The new CL-Class is another Mercedes-Benz masterpiece. Just as the luxury coupé points the way to the future with its innovative technology, the design has also set the mould for a new Mercedes style. Its hallmark is the interaction between distinctive tightly drawn lines with large, unruffled surfaces. This design idiom lends the Coupé its own particular expressive power, emphasising the calm and power of its powerful, self-confident nature.
Familiar Mercedes features have been given a contemporary twist, resulting in a harmonious blend of the classic and contemporary. Examples include the hallmark Mercedes radiator grille with its wide chrome louvres and the design of the C-pillar. The unique, slightly downwards-tapering 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 striking C-pillar design, and a few years later the concept was further refined in the suc-cessor 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, and in its stylistically evolved form for the new CL-Class it is just as appealing as in the 220 SE Coupé of 1961.
Interior: equipment for even the most discerning driver
Style finds its way into the interior too: the large side window aperture draws the eye to the stylish dashboard, exquisite wood trim and soft leather upholstery. In an instant you realise that everything in the interior of the new CL-Class is designed for comfort and relaxation. The atmosphere is reminiscent of an exclusive club: take a seat and enjoy. Five stylish colour combinations are available; automatic climate control, COMAND with car radio and CD/DVD player as well as a glass sunroof are all part of the standard specification, elements that come together to deliver a unique motoring and comfort experience.
In the top-of-the-line CL 600 the Exclusive PASSION leather appointments, specially selected poplar wood and an Alcantara roof liner with quilted seams provide the finishing touches to an exquisite first-class ambience, a look and feel also echoed in the seats with their designo styling, the chromed door sill panels and floor mats with leather edging. The standard specification also includes dynamic multicontour seats with massage function and seat ventilation, the hard-disc navigation system COMAND APS, the LOGIC7® surround sound system with DVD changer and the KEYLESS-GO access and drive authorisation system.
Compared with the outgoing model, the new Mercedes-Benz top-of-the-range coupé has grown slightly in every dimension. 5065 millimetres long, 1871 millimetres wide and 1418 millimetres high, the body is 75 millimetres longer, 14 millimetres wider and 20 millimetres 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).
Control system: fewer switches for more functions
A newly developed control system, which has already been successfully implemented in the S Class worldwide, refines driver-vehicle interaction even further. Above all, it provides convenient, rapid access to frequently used functions such as car radio, DVD player, car phone or navigation system. Depending on the driver’s own preference, these systems can be controlled using switches in the centre console, pressing a button on the multifunction steering wheel or using the COMAND controller on the centre console. This central control unit is linked to the large, pivoting COMAND colour display next to the instrument cluster, providing access to the user-friendly main and sub-menus that activate the various functions.
The standard-fit automatic climate control with four independently adjustable temperature zones is also integrated into the new control system. The driver and front passenger can select temperature, air distribution and other settings either using the COMAND controller and menu-based control, or by means of an attractively styled switch array beneath the air vents. The COMAND system allows other individual climate settings to be adjusted such as air distribution and the footwell temperature.
The newly developed integral seats in the CL-Class provide maximum individual seating comfort. “Integral” means that all components of the seat-belt system are in-corporated 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, inclination 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 multi-contour seats with nine air cushions, and dynamic multicontour seats with massage function (standard in the CL 600).
The driver and front passenger seats with multicontour function have been awarded the AGR (“healthy back campaign”) seal of approval.
Active Body Control: the perfect combination of dynamism and comfort
The standard specification in the new Mercedes Coupé features technological innovations that no other manufacturer can match anywhere in the world. First and foremost is the Active Body Control (ABC) suspension system, which in its latest, even more sophisticated guise delivers unprecedented handling dynamics while offering an equally appreciable improvement in ride comfort. Based on sensor signals and using specially designed hydraulic cylinders at the axles, ABC all but entirely eliminates the customary pitch and roll of the body that occur when moving off, cornering and braking. ABC responds with split-second speed to ensure the body damping is adjusted instantly to any situation. At speeds above 60 km/h, ABC lowers the body by up to ten millimetres to reduce drag and improve handling stability.
Intelligent Light System: five lighting functions to match driving and weather conditions
The Intelligent Light System, which makes driving even safer in the dark, is equally unique. Together with bi-xenon headlamps it forms part of the standard specification for the new CL-Class and provides five different lighting functions that are activated to match driving and weather conditions: the new country road mode illuminates the driver’s-side edge of the road more widely and brightly than the existing low-beam headlamps. Motorway mode, which comes on automatically when driving above 90 km/h, delivers a uniform cone of light that illuminates the entire road width. In the centre of this cone the driver is able to see around 50 metres further. The enhanced fog lamps are also new, which Mercedes-Benz uses to provide better orientation in adverse weather conditions. Active light function and cornering light function are also part of the standard-fit Intelligent Light System on the CL Class.
PRE-SAFE®: automatic partial braking before an impending accident
Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first car brand to develop an anticipatory occupant protection system that recognises a potential accident situation in its early stages and takes anticipatory occupant protection measures: PRE-SAFE® is standard-fit on the new CL-Class. During emergency braking or when skidding is imminent, the system moves the passenger seat into the most favourable position so that seat belts and airbags have maximum effect on impact. It also inflates air cushions in the dynamic multicontour seats (standard in the CL 600), which envelop and support the driver and front passenger. PRE-SAFE® also closes the side windows and the sunroof in critical situations where high lateral dynamics are generated.
Mercedes-Benz has just made this multi-award-winning anticipatory protection system even better in the CL-Class with the newly developed PRE-SAFE® brakes. They operate in tandem with Brake Assist PLUS (BAS PLUS), which warns the driver of an imminent rear-end collision with visual and audible signals and automatically calculates the required braking pressure to prevent an accident. This braking-power support is available as soon as the brake pedal is operated. If the driver does not react to the BAS PLUS warnings, the PRE-SAFE® brakes trigger automatic partial braking where an accident is imminent and slow the CL Class down using around 40 percent of the total braking power.
The automatic partial braking provides the driver with another clear warning to act. If the driver then immediately applies the brakes, the maximum braking force is available and the accident can - depending on the situation - be averted at the last moment. If an accident is unavoidable, the PRE-SAFE® brakes reduce the impact severity and, in turn, the risk of injury to the vehicle occupants.
As with Brake Assist PLUS, the new PRE-SAFE® brakes also utilise state-of-the-art radar technology to scan the situation in front of the car and detect a potential accident. Two short-range radar sensors with a range of 30 metres and a scanning angle of 80° are located behind the front bumper fascia on the CL-Class. The additional long-range radar in the radiator grille has a range of 150 metres.
Mercedes-Benz also offers BAS PLUS and PRE-SAFE® brakes in conjunction with the optional DISTRONIC PLUS proximity cruise control.
Assistance systems: radar sensors make parking child’s play
The newly developed parking guidance system (optional extra) also 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. Once reverse gear is engaged, 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.
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 for increased handling safety and comfort.
Engines: eight and twelve-cylinder powerplants with noticeably more power
The new luxury Coupé is ready for any challenge on motorways and rural roads thanks to Mercedes’ most powerful engines to date. The eight-cylinder powerplant in the CL 500 delivers 285 kW/388 hp and generates a maximum torque of 530 Newton metres from 2800 rpm. As such the newly developed engine outperforms the existing V8 unit by 26 percent in terms of output and 15 percent 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 100 km/h in just 5.4 seconds (previous model: 6.3 seconds).
An ultra-modern biturbo twelve-cylinder engine under the bonnet of the new CL 600 generates its impressive power. Mercedes engineers have enhanced numerous de-tails of the power unit and, compared to the predecessor model, have increased out-put 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 Newton metres to 830 Newton metres and remains constant up to 3500 rpm. The new CL 600 accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds (previous model: 4.8 seconds). And despite the significant per-formance boost the V12 engine consumes 0.4 litres less fuel than the previous CL 600 per 100 kilometres.
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.
Tradition: seven generations of the Mercedes-Benz Coupé
The new CL-Class ushers in the seventh generation of the large Mercedes Coupés. 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 “Pon-toon” body in particular. And in 1961 the220 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.
Breaking new ground and setting trends – that is the goal of Mercedes design development. It reflects the principle of Mercedes-Benz never to stand still, but always to think further and stay ahead.
The new CL-Class is a prime example of this philosophy: just as this luxury coupé with its innovative technology points the way into the future, its design joins the S-Class in being a protagonist for a new aesthetic appearance – a new Mercedes style. It is based on the principles of modern purism, i.e. on a clear, unostentatious design idiom with an interplay between striking lines and calm surfaces. This lends the Coupé a very special presence, underlining the unruffled calm and strength of its unique character.
Yet design progress at Mercedes-Benz also always means creating a link with the past to emphasise the heritage of passenger cars bearing the Mercedes star. This is done by including familiar Mercedes characteristics, which are reinterpreted and incorporated into the design concept to form an exciting composition of progress and tradition. One example is the front end, where the louvred radiator grille with its central Mercedes star unmistakably confirms the car’s identity. The designers in Sindelfingen have positioned this traditional feature of sporty Mercedes models at a steeper angle than in the preceding series, also equipping it with wide, highly expressive chrome louvres. This contributes to the extremely powerful and self-assured appearance of the new CL-Class, which is further reinforced by the more pronounced arrow-shape of the entire front end.
The headlamps are highlights in two respects. In technical terms, with the Intelligent Light System, they represent the very best available anywhere, while in styling terms they are one of the most striking features of this Mercedes Coupé and lend a special touch to its overall appearance. The bi-xenon module and an additional high-beam headlamp are enclosed in highly polished cylinders reminiscent of expensive camera lenses, suggesting attributes such as precision, high value and high technology.
Viewed from the front, the transparent lenses of the headlamps form a single unit with the radiator grille which impressively emphasises the visual width of the vehicle body. The side view shows that the headlamps are perfectly blended into the wings, creating a flowing transition from the front end to the flanks. As a result the entire front section appears to have been moulded from a single piece. The indicator strip horizontally arranged in the lower headlamp section harmoniously follows the sweeping contours of the front bumper, which likewise extends well into the flanks to frame the lighting units.
Wings: expressive anatomy
The eye is directed towards the wheel arches and wings, where new highlights are to be found in the body language of the Mercedes Coupé. The stylishly contoured wings enable the two-door car to flex its muscles discreetly yet purposefully. Intentionally rather taut and physical, the pronounced, rounded contours of the wings arch over the wheels and symbolise the power residing beneath the elegant outer skin of the CL-Class.
Athleticism coupled with confidence, power with prestige: the body "anatomy" created by the designers ensures that from every angle, the two-door Coupé has a wide, self-assured presence on the road. The interplay between lines and surfaces is equally expressive, as the soft, rounded forms of the bumper and wings contrast with the taut outside lines of the bonnet – visual demarcation lines which lend additional contours to the front end and mark a transition to the large, calm surface of the bonnet itself.
The sharp outer lines of the bonnet have another importance for the design concept, as they form a gentle, flowing transition to the A-pillars, elegantly connecting the front end to the passenger compartment.
Flanks: intriguing lines
One of the distinguishing aspects of the modern purism inherent to the new Mercedes style is the interplay between taut lines and elegantly contoured, calm surfaces. A coupé like the CL-Class particularly lends itself to this design theme: two lines drawn at different heights give the flanks their formal structure, subdivide the large areas and act as major styling features to define the dignified appearance of the car’s stretched silhouette. These lines have a special visual impact, attract attention and appeal to the emotions of the observer.
The designers refer to one of them as the character line; this structures the upper third of the vehicle flanks, also providing an appealing refractive edge between the concave and convex door surfaces. In this way the design uses light and shade very effectively, ensuring a variety of contrasts when viewed from any perspective. At the rear this character line precisely meets the rear light cluster, which extends well into the flanks and continues its course gently downwards.
The shoulder line lies above the character line, emerging organically from the front wings and extending to the rear via the bottom line of the windows. This muscular shoulder supports the slim, almost filigree A-pillar which in turn gives rise to the third characteristic line of the Mercedes Coupé, namely the roofline. This spans the body in a light but pronounced curve, defines the line of the C-pillar and gently dips down with it into the rear end of the Mercedes Coupé. A fine chrome strip on the upper frame of the side windows follows the roofline and emphasises its curved contour.
C-pillar: living tradition
The design of the C-pillar demonstrates how Mercedes designers are at pains to combine tradition with modernity. This unique, slightly tapering pillar configuration is a typical coupé feature whose roots go right back to the 1950s: in 1956 the Model 220 S/SE Coupé (model series W 180/W 128) first captured attention with such a C-pillar design, and a few years later it was further perfected in the succeeding model, the 220 SE Coupé (W 111/112).
Other design features which were already acclaimed at that time have also been reinterpreted in the new CL-Class, keeping alive the great coupé tradition of the Mercedes-Benz brand: for example the fully retractable side windows, whose continuous aperture is not interrupted by a B-pillar, and the large, curving panoramic rear windscreen. In the early years this was a typical styling feature of Mercedes Coupés, and in its stylistically evolved form it is just as appealing as in the 220 SE Coupé of 1961.
Rear end: a beautiful back
The masterly blend of surfaces and lines which characterises the flanks of the luxury Coupé is continued at the rear. The eye is immediately drawn to the large, panoramic rear windscreen, which makes for a rounded, exquisitely modelled rear end together with the soft lines of the C-pillar and the boot lid. The rear light clusters extending well into the sides of the rear end are intended to shorten the visual impression of the rear and create sporty, muscular proportions. Both rear light clusters act as a continuation of the character lines along the flanks, cleverly extend these by means of a colour division in the lens and thereby act together with the V-shaped joins of the boot lid to produce the typical Mercedes rear-end design.
The rear-end design makes a statement on two levels: by virtue of its muscular proportions it confirms the sporty attributes of the new CL Coupé, which are also emphasised by the horizontally structured rear bumper and the two prominent exhaust tailpipes. On the other hand the beautifully sculptured rear light clusters, the wide chrome strip on the boot lid and other details provide a touch of elegance. They dominate the overall visual impression and thereby reflect the true character of the Mercedes Coupé.
There is no doubt that the sweeping flanks are the most appealing visual aspects of the new CL-Class – especially when the windows are open to afford an unimpeded view of the interior. No window frame or B-pillar interrupts this continuous aperture. This is where the fascination of a coupé begins, blending the exterior and interior into a single unit for the observer.
The large window aperture invites the eye into the interior, where it is drawn to the attractive contours of the dashboard. It immediately becomes obvious that everything in the interior is designed for comfort and relaxation. The atmosphere is like that of an exclusive club: take a seat and indulge your senses of vision, smell and touch in pleasing forms, fine materials, tasteful colour combinations and the unmistakable attention to detail for which Mercedes designers are known.
This first impression – seeing and feeling – is without doubt always the most important when it comes to emotional appeal. Nonetheless a car must demonstrate its qualities on a daily basis, both on short trips and on long journeys. It must therefore possess further attributes if the atmosphere of wellbeing created by its designers is to endure – good ergonomics, comfort and reliable technology to relieve the driver’s workload. In these areas too the CL-Class sets a new standard among luxury coupés: spaciousness, freedom of movement, noise comfort, seating quality, operating comfort and typical Mercedes innovations make the driving experience perfect - in every respect.
The interior design reflects these strengths. In the area of the dashboard and centre console it has a vertically arranged architecture which already proved highly successful in the preceding series. It is in line with current design concepts for sporty vehicles and shows that in addition to elegance and exclusivity, the CL-Class is certainly no slouch in the performance stakes. Due to the principle of vertically oriented design, the centre console and tunnel trim form a single stylistic and functional unit which extends right back into the rear, carries important control features such as the COMAND controller and provides a great deal of stowage space. In addition, the continuous tunnel trim with its comfortable armrest emphasises the spacious dimensions of the interior.
Materials: only the very finest
It is immediately obvious to anybody sitting in one of the integral seats that the new CL-Class fits like a tailor-made suit. Everything is perfectly coordinated: forms, colours and materials. There is a choice of five tasteful colour combinations: black/black, basalt grey/dark basalt grey, cognac brown/black, savanna beige/cashmere beige and sahara beige/black.
Mercedes customers are also able to satisfy their individual wishes with a choice of fine wood trim for the centre console, doors and rear side panels: even the burr walnut coming from California is available in two variations – with a dark gloss or matt silk finish. Black ash wood is another option, and hand-selected poplar wood is specially reserved for the CL 600. In the top-of-the-line V12 model it is also used for the wood/leather steering wheel and for the handrest of the COMAND controller.
The seat upholstery is also to the highest standards. Three different grades of leather are available, all with a low level of pre-tensioning for a ruffled effect and a soft, comfortable appearance even at first glance. This appealing visual impression is enhanced even further by the feel of the particularly soft PASSION leather upholstery. If PASSION leather upholstery is ordered as an optional extra (standard in the CL 600), the dashboard, centre console and interior door panels are also lined in this fine nappa leather. Choosing this top-of-the-line interior means that the roof lining and the A and C-pillar linings are also enhanced with high-quality Alcantara — haute couture on wheels.
Control system: intuitive interface
"User interface design" is a new term in the world of automotive development. It refers to the clear layout and design of the dashboard displays, switches and controls, so that the driver intuitively understands their functions while they blend attractively into the overall design concept. The new CL-Class also sets standards in this field.
The newly developed control system (see page 52) combines high-quality materials and elegant surroundings with an appealing clarity and exemplary practicality. The engineers and designers have worked together closely to ensure that the visual appearance and technology are in harmony.
Immediately obvious features include the luxurious switches and controls, which are all designed to a uniform style: all the switches, buttons and rotary controls are of aluminium, or have a finely structured metallic surface, which lends them an appearance of being cast in the same mould. The highly polished black display surfaces form a pleasant contrast to the metallic, silver-coloured switches. They are internally illuminated and carry symbols to denote their function.
The designers and engineers had the shared aim of reducing the number of switches and controls. Important functions still remain directly accessible to the driver, while less frequently used systems can be conveniently controlled using COMAND. Controls with similar functions have been grouped into arrays, for example the seat adjustment controls, the switches for the power windows or the air conditioning/ventilation controls. Many of these function groups feature fine chrome surrounds which further underline the very high quality of this top-class Mercedes Coupé. The effect is also enhanced by the COMAND controller and the handrest with its fine leather or fine wood trim. Beneath its lid – as if nestling in a jewel case – lies the telephone handset.
The designers were also responsible for the appearance of the displays and controls, therefore the lettering, graphics and layout bear a uniform signature. To create a user-friendly display interface the specialists developed photo-realistic illustrations which clearly and logically support the relevant control process. For the COMAND display they developed an intuitive and easily operated menu system, placing great emphasis on large, easily legible lettering and a clear structure to ensure that operation is as simple and precise as possible.