With its sensuous lines and sporty proportions, the redesigned Mercedes-Benz S-class coupe is going for the jugular of its pricey rivals.
Mercedes' 2015 S-class coupe, renamed from CL, is "as exclusive as it gets -- the ultimate in aesthetic sportiness," said Ola Kaellenius, board member for sales and marketing. "The large coupe has always been the supreme pinnacle of our model range and that's why it's now called the S class again."
The CL has never been a big seller but has been a tour de force of technology, which is why Mercedes is introducing even more technology on the high-end two-door, including optional head-up display.
The most advanced new feature is what Mercedes calls active curve tilting.
"The vehicle leans into bends much like a motorcyclist, thereby reducing the lateral acceleration acting on the vehicle's occupants," said Thomas Weber, board member for r&d.
The S-class coupe shares a platform with the S-class sedan. Compared with the outgoing CL, the S-class coupe is about 1.5 inches lower with styling lines that are more sculpted and flowing. It has a bigger and wider grille and a wider panoramic roof that tints from light to dark with the flip of a switch. It has two rows of front and rear LED headlights and a low beltline.
The new S-class coupe makes its debut at next month's Geneva auto show and will go on sale this fall in the United States. Initially, it will be sold in the United States as the S550 coupe with all-wheel drive and a 4.7-liter biturbo V-8 that generates 449 hp.
Mercedes design boss Gorden Wagener calls the new S-class coupe "one of the most gorgeous coupes of all time, representing the most radical aesthetic departure from its predecessor."
The S-class coupe will compete with the Maserati GranTurismo and the upper end of the growing cadre of luxury vehicles with coupelike styling, including the Audi A7/S7 and the BMW 6 series and 6-series Gran Coupe.
U.S. sales of the current generation CL that debuted in 2006 declined to 476 units last year, from 723 in 2012 and from a high of 3,672 in 2007.
The 2014 CL has a base price of $117,525, including shipping. The AMG version of the CL -- expected to go on sale even later this year -- also will compete with the costlier Bentley Continental GT coupe that starts at $187,425, including shipping.
Pricing on the AMG CL65 starts at $218,525, including shipping.
The S-class coupe's wheelbase is unchanged from the CL's 116 inches. But it is more than two inches shorter with a length of 198 inches. It is one inch wider than the CL -- at 75 inches -- but the height of 56 inches is unchanged.
The coupe has all of the new safety and convenience features of the S-class sedan that went on sale in October. They include semiautomated driving features and systems packaged as Intelligent Drive.
These include pedestrian detection, radar-based distance control, lane and cross-traffic assistance, night vision, adaptive high beams and autonomous braking.
A special Edition 1 S550 model will have unusual headlights with 47 Swarovski crystals -- 30 in the turn indicator and 17 in the angular daytime running lamps.
Inside, the dashboard has two layers -- the top is clear and wraps around while the lower is more sculptural and appears to be floating. Mercedes said the redesigned dash was made possible by moving the passenger airbag.
A touch pad that understands handwriting controls the multimedia from in front of the armrest. A head-up display is optional and gives speed and navigation instruction as well as driving assistance system messages.