Conceptually, this new CLS feels much closer to CLS generation I than generation II. That’s a good thing. The side profile heralds ‘the return of the banana’, with a clean body side and overall profile that’s much closer to the first generation than the second – the rear end particularly; the C pillar and rear deck, is far more elegantly resolved than before. In the metal it doesn’t portray the scaled-up-CLA feeling that the first pictures, which leaked yesterday, seemed to suggest it might have.
Nonetheless, it’s unusual to see a new Mercedes with a slightly uncomfortable stance. There’s a lot of volume in the body side section, which makes the wheels look too inboard, and overall they don’t sit in their openings happily.
But we’ve spoken to several designers here in LA and the question on everyone’s lips is, why are Mercedes messing around with their DRG — particularly the grille form? Of course, the massive 3-pointed star covers a multitude of sins, and will sell the car to customers immediately. But as a set of forms? Head-on, there’s a hint of Ford Mustang about this front graphic.
Take a couple of steps to the side and look at things from a three-quarters angle, and the new upswept lamp shape is reminiscent of Opel/Vauxhall’s new Insignia Gran Sport.
Many OEMs have struggled and continue to struggle with creating a distinctive, unique down road graphic. It wasn’t a struggle Mercedes needed to throw themselves into.