- Interplay between taut lines and calm, elegantly contoured surfaces
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.
Interior: welcome to the club
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.
At a glance: design and equipment features of the CL models*
trim in black ash wood, alternatively dark or silk matt burr walnut
wood trim with wood/leather steering wheel
leather interior with Alcantara roof liner
sill panels in high-gloss aluminium
stainless steel door sill panels and chromed boot sill
17-inch seven-spoke light-alloy wheels
light-alloy wheels in a special V12 design
callipers with Mercedes-Benz lettering
inserts on lower air intake and chrome fog lamp surrounds
emblem on both front wings
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.