Stepping Ahead: CLS-Class Looks to Regain Its Mojo
When the second-gen Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class debuted, we were smitten. It had the look, it had the power, and it had the presence. Before long, though, the competition surpassed the CLS, and we were left wishing the brutally fast “four-door coupe” had the moves to keep up with the latest from Audi and BMW. Now, our wish might have been answered.
The most significant change on the refreshed 2015 CLS-Class is the introduction of an all-new entry-level car, badged CLS400 and carrying the brand’s new twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 good for 329 hp and 354 lb-ft. It will be offered in both rear and all-wheel drive and should ring in at a few thousand dollars lower than the CLS550’s nearly $73,000 starting price. We presume it will be matched to Mercedes‘ updated seven-speed automatic transmission.
The CLS-Class will be the first Mercedes to feature the brand’s all-new nine-speed automatic transmission, which will debut on the refreshed CLS550 before trickling out to all the other CLS variants over the next few years. At launch, the nine-speed will be available only on rear-drive CLS550s. We expect the 4.7-liter twin-turbo V-8 and its 402 hp and 443 lb-ft to carry over.
Air suspension with adjustable damping will also be standard on the CLS550, while CLS400 models will have steel springs and damping tuned for comfort. Both cars will come with 18-inch wheels, but expect plenty of optional upgrades. CLS550s also get standard satellite radio and a harman/kardon audio system.
On the outside, the 2015 CLS-Class gets the new corporate grille and LED headlights with matte chrome trim. Darkened taillights and new wheels dress up the rest of the exterior. Inside, is a new, larger, 8-inch infotainment screen displaying the brand’s latest entertainment and navigation software.
The CLS-Class also picks up the latest version of Mercedes’ Collision Prevention Assist Plus system, which will now brake autonomously to help prevent a collision as well as the full suite of Intelligent Drive technologies from the latest E-Class.
On the AMG front, Mercedes-Benz will confirm only that the CLS63 AMG will continue to exist. We expect it will retain its twin-turbo 5.5-liter V-8, but only in 577 hp and 590 lb-ft trim. Mercedes has decreed that all AMG models sold in the U.S. will be high-power S Models, so figure the non-S Model and its paltry 550 hp and 531 lb-ft are done for. The same edict says all AMGs will be all-wheel drive, so the CLS63 AMG S Model probably will also remain a 4Matic. We’ve seen an early design mockup of the next CLS63 AMG, and we can tell you to expect extremely wide fenders and a highly aggressive grille, reminiscent of a DTM race car.