2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS-class

When it bowed for the 2005 model year, Mercedes-Benz’s CLS-class launched a segment the world didn’t know it wanted: the four-door coupe. Quad-portal traditionalists worked themselves into a tizzy, pointing out that the CLS was merely a sedan with a fastback roofline; that a coupe had only two doors. But if a company could offer a two-door sedan (something Ford was doing as far back as the 1920s), why couldn’t we have a four-door coupe? Regardless, the style and nomenclature caught on with the European crowd, spawning machines such as the Volkswagen CC and the Audi A7. The original now is about to enter its third generation. And it’s doing so by edging ever closer to the sedan that spawned it, the E-class.

The first two generations of CLS seemed more taut and lithe than their E-class brethren, but this new model comes off as a serious slice of machinery, looming just as large as its more staid sibling. The latest E-class has grown considerably, and if the E grows, so must the CLS. Although the cars we rode in were still lightly camouflaged, there was no hiding the slab-sided nature of the latest version. A pronounced, smooth rear fender line gently arcs up from the outermost corner of the taillight into the driver’s door, while the rear of the greenhouse sweeps inward, perhaps as a bit of a subtle take on the outrageous boattails of the 1971–73 Buick Riviera and the second-generation Chevrolet Corvette. If you prefer to get all Euro and fancy about it, a comparison to the Rolls-Royce Wraith could be made. While the nose of the E-class slopes slightly rearward, the CLS reverses that cue with a mild forward cant. In camo at least, the treatment gives the new nose a mildly Mustang mien. We’ll go out on a limb and posit that the inevitable AMG’s Panamericana grille will look right at home on the new schnoz. Out behind the lengthy backlight, the CLS offers a more rounded take on the design language Mercedes has been applying to its two-doors and coupey…

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