The all-new 2018 Mercedes Benz CLS is going to be divisive, and that may be the thing that saves it from oblivion. The third generation of this luxury four-door coupe comes at a time when fate of the sedan itself is hanging in the balance. It's also placing itself against some robust competition in the Audi A7 and BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe.
When the CLS was first rolled out in 2005, it sold around 15,000 units in the first year—not a bad number for an expensive new body style. The second-gen, in 2011, saw diminishing returns: in its first year, it sold around 8,000 units. How will the new generation fare, since it's going to be released into a marketplace that has largely turned its affection to crossovers and SUVs. If it follows this sales trend, it may struggle to reach 3,500 units sold.
We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. Meanwhile, what's to love about the new Benz? For starters, that front end. Some will hate it, some will love, but it's not likely to inspire indifference. Taking its cues from the AMG GT concept, with a sharp nose and wide, eye-grabbing headlights, the long and low CLS eschews right angles, favoring understatement with flashes of showmanship. Under its skin, the CLS sits upon Mercedes's new MRA (Modular Rear Architecture) platform, the same platform that hosts the E-Class.
The CLS will hit US shores in two models, the CLS450 and the all-wheel-drive CLS450 4Matic. Both will be powered by Mercedes's inline-six, which that makes 367 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque and pairs nicely with the 48-volt EQ-Power hybrid system—that means no accessory belt and seamless stop-start.