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2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS: The Inline-6 is Back

The third generation of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, which trailblazed the four-door coupe category 12 years ago, has just been released and it’s a real beauty! Well, it all depends on how you look at it.
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The third generation of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, which trailblazed the four-door coupe category 12 years ago, has just been released and it’s a real beauty! Well, it all depends on how you look at it.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane, all the way back to the 2003 auto show season. Mercedes-Benz was about to introduce a sedan with windswept lines. For a moment, we all expected a coupe. Instead, the Mercedes-Benz CLS had four doors.

As fast as you could say “competition,” the other luxury automakers jumped into the game, releasing the Audi A7 and BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe. Since then, even more affordable brands have come out with their own fastback-style sedans, like the Hyundai Sonata.

There’s no doubt that the Mercedes-Benz CLS left its mark. Then the second generation of this German sedan, which hit the market in 2010, kicked things up a notch. Now we’ve got the third generation, freshly unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The designers who worked on it were guided by the “perfected original” tagline, said Robert Lesnik, one of the stylists involved in the project.

Personally, I’m going to miss the aggressive attitude and chiselled lines that characterized the previous generation. All this has been taken away, leaving the 2019 Mercedes-Benz CLS with a more non-descript look. If you want to see it in person, you’ll find it at local dealerships next summer.

A Fifth Seat and an Inline-6
As a consolation, the vehicle has finally gained that fifth seat (middle of the rear bench) that it was sorely lacking for so long. And if you look under the new gen’s long hood, you’ll be delighted to see that it is now equipped with an inline-6.

Wondering where the 402-horsepower V8 went? It’s gone, along with the AMG variant, according to Michael Kelz, chief engineer for the model.

Don’t lament just yet. We should remind you that by placing a 3.0-litre inline-6 in the engine compartment of the new Mercedes-Benz CLS 450 4MATIC, the Stuttgart-based automaker is reconnecting with the engine layout it parted ways with 20 years ago (an engine that BMW continued to court, might we add).

Reflecting the new appetite for electric vehicles, the engine has been paired with a 48-volt battery and an integrated starter generator inside its gearbox.

This feature should give the combustion engine more seamless start-ups. Drivers who have to constantly deactivate the start-stop system on their recent Mercedes-Benz know what we’re talking about.

Beyond that, it should also provide the Mercedes-Benz CLS with the kind of electric performance assistance that’s now expected of luxury brands. During acceleration, the engine’s 362 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque will temporarily gain 22 ponies and an extra 185 lb.-ft. of torque.

That should be enough to make you forget the V8, right?

Mercedes-Benz is calling this semi-hybrid system EQ Boost. Remember that name, since you’ll be hearing it more and more often as Family Modular Engines (FAME) gain prominence.

This family is set to expand with a four-cylinder gas engine (perfect for the next C-Class) and a six-cylinder diesel. There’s already a four-cylinder diesel available in Europe, but don’t expect to find it on our side of the pond. “We’re not considering it. The idea hasn’t been floated,” said Kelz.

We have Volkswagen to thank for that.