With the 2010 Mercedes-Benz CLS, the German automaker succeeds with an unusual formula. They call the CLS a "four-door coupe"-a notion that seemed odd a few years ago when it was introduced. And yet today, the Benz CLS has inspired a raft of similar vehicles from automakers around the world, with its slimmed-down side view and its faintly French interior.
Thanks to the CLS, the whole idea of calling a four-door sedan a "coupe" has become commonplace, even though it's easy to spot the CLS' doors from the side. Even so, it's a handsome coupelike look, taut and elegant. A 2009 face-lift gently updated the front end with a more pronounced two-bar grille and a slightly trimmer nose, along with LED tail lamps. The silhouette still is quite fetching, even a few years after the CLS' debut. Cars.com praises its "sweeping arc" roofline, while Edmunds declares it "a 'four-door coupe' that blends the sleek lines of a luxury two-door with the practicality of a sedan." Automobile won't hear of the loose terminology; the "CLS is a sedan," they report. "Take a look: four front-hinged doors, back seats, trunk. If that's a coupe, then Mercedes should open a real estate arm specializing in two-bedroom studio apartments." They still are pleased by the design, as is Kelley Blue Book, which says "nothing about the Mercedes-Benz CLS is as distinctive as its unfamiliar shape," in which the back blends into the rear C-pillars and trunk lid to create a "unique fastback profile." Edmunds summarizes opinions from around the Web nicely when it deems the CLS "more stunning in person than even the most flattering photography might suggest," with "a visual presence that few other luxury sedans can match."
The CLS' sheetmetal gives way to even more elegance inside. Veneered panels and soft leather surround passengers. Edmunds notes the "sweeping wood panels, chrome trim surrounds, premium materials and beautiful detailing [that] set the CLS apart." Kelley Blue Book observes, "Large expanses of unique matte burl walnut trim...combine with sculpted perforated seats to convey a purpose that is at once both elegant and spirited." Automobile gushes, "A wood-trimmed center console separates the seats and continues the theme set by the Paul Bunyan-sized slab of burled walnut that adorns the leather-upholstered dashboard."