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Mercedes-Benz originated both the term and the concept of a luxury performance four-door coupe in 2003 when it launched the CLS with its distinctively sloped roofline draped over four doors.

The car's unique silhouette and oxymoronic moniker was derided by some at the time, the dissenters viewing it as a gimmick that would never catch on.

Well, 170,000 CLS customers and a Porsche Panamera led pack of imitators later, it's obvious that Mercedes-Benz has the last laugh. But it's not the last CLS, as the automaker released photos and some information on the second generation CLS that will be officially unveiled at the Paris Auto Show in early October and arrive in showrooms as a 2012 model in the middle of 2011.

While the original came across as smooth and sleek, with a feminine allure to its curvy physique, the new model has a bolder, more muscular shape that bears the chiseled character lines featured in the latest S-Class. It further emphasizes the long hood and sloping rear deck of the original. Elegant from some angles - notably the rear, but definitely 'in your face' too.

The latter attitude comes across especially up front, where the large grille with three-pointed star is not bashful about telling the world who invented the four-door coupe. The lower fascia features aggressive AMG-style aerodynamics surrounding a wide air intake centered between smaller intakes that contain a strip of LED running lights.

Speaking of LED lighting, the most prominent features of the new nose are the headlamps that contain three rows of LED bulbs, 71 in all, that according to Mercedes-Benz are the first to include all the capabilities that LED technology offers. This includes normal beams, high beams, and side lighting.

The headlights sweep back over the top of the prominent front fenders where a character line meets them and continues along the side and slopes down toward the muscular bulge of the rear fender arch. This line handsomely mimics and accents the slope of the roofline.

The rear end styling neatly ties up the swept back lines of the roof and sides. Large angular LED tail lights complete the look.

The CLS has always been as elegant inside as it is on the outside and that tradition carries forward into the next generation. The dash sweeps around from door to door ala the S-Class. Mercedes-Benz goes into drooling details in its press release (hey, they really do get uncharacteristically misty about the CLS, the 2003 introductory press kit was covered in red velvet and featured poetry) about the hand stitching, form fit, and thick creamy texture of the leather.

We have to admit, the new CLS does look inviting and we can't wait for October to see it in person.    

author photo

Patrick Paternie "still plays with cars" as a freelance writer/photographer covering new and classic automobiles, racing, and the high-speed lifestyle that surrounds them. His driving exploits include vintage autos and the latest exotics on many of the world's greatest roads and racetracks. Patrick is the author of seven books about Porsche, Mini, Corvette and muscle cars, and has written articles that appear in AutoWeek, duPont Registry, Inside Line, Robb Report and others.

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