2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS First Look: Now a Five-Seater

Mercedes hasn’t fully redesigned the CLS since the 2012 model year, so it’s about time a new version arrives. Now in its third generation, the CLS morphs into an increasingly functional coupelike four-door. The 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS450, headed to dealerships next fall, gets a 48-volt onboard electrical system and five seats instead of four, with backrests that fold down in a 40/20/40 configuration.

Mercedes isn’t afraid to spruce up its design language every now and then, and the CLS features a noticeably sharper look compared to its predecessor. Up front, you’ll find more angular headlights and a new radiator grille, which widens toward the base. The front end of the model slants forward, creating what Mercedes says is reminiscent of a shark’s nose that’s slightly reminiscent of the Ford Mustang’s. Aerodynamics are aided by thin air vents ahead of the front wheels that help reattach the flow past the front wheel, and extremely slick side-surfacing of the glass and B-pillar junctions, quiets the interior. Meanwhile, the rear looks less droopy, thanks to the redesigned taillights. Mercedes also repositioned the license plate holder and the three-pointed star for a cleaner appearance

Now for what’s under the hood. The CLS450 comes with a new 3.0-liter inline-six supplemented by an integrated “EQ Boost” electric motor buried in the transmission housing (a nine-speed automatic is standard). The car produces 362 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, plus an additional 21 hp and 184 lb-ft available with EQ Boost over short periods. But despite its 21 hp, roughly half of the car’s available torque at low speeds is owed to the electric motor. EQ Boost is paired with an approximately 1 kW-hr, liquid-cooled lithium battery (located under the hood) that supplements the gasoline engine’s power – the engine and electric motor can’t be decoupled so there’s no EV-only mode. Up to about 100 mph, though, lifting-off the throttle shuts off the engine for what the Germans call “sailing” – the electric motor (that does starting and regen duties) refires the engine upon throttle application. Mercedes says the unit allows for fuel savings that could previously only be achieved with high-voltage hybrid technology.

Inside the cabin, Mercedes shows less restraint. The opulent interior features standard leather seats, navigation with map updates, a 12.3-inch display, and 64 ambient lighting options. There is also an Energizing Comfort feature, which adjusts cabin fragrance, heat, ventilation, and massage settings to six  themes. Other high-end features include three new Nappa leather upholstery options, a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, a Burmester 3-D surround sound system, a head-up display, and an inductive wireless phone charger. On the optional Driver Assistance package, Mercedes said it improved the lane change helping feature as well as the camera and radar systems. The CLS can also now calculate driving behavior based on map and navigation data.

The CLS now has five seats, but its rear row is shaped for only two rear passengers.

At launch, Mercedes will offer an Edition 1 model with copper accents. The model also receives special badging, black pearl Nappa leather, natural grain black ash wood trim, and a special diamond grille with matte chrome pins.

Pricing for the rear-drive 2019 CLS450 and all-wheel-drive 2019 CLS450 4Matic will be announced at a later date. The model arrives in the U.S. in fall 2018 starting with the 4Matic variant.