LOS ANGELES — Mercedes-Benz is looking to revive sales of its CLS four-door coupe with a redesign that pulls new technology from the S class and adds a fifth seat for the first time.
"We are pretty optimistic we'll have a strong showing of that vehicle," Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler told Automotive News last week after the car's unveiling at the auto show here.
The third-generation CLS will go on sale next year as a 2019 model, Mercedes said.
U.S. sales of the CLS are nearing an all-time low amid an industrywide fall-off in luxury car sales.
Through the first 10 months of 2017, Mercedes sold 1,613 copies of the CLS in the U.S., down 58 percent. That could make 2017 the lowest sales year in the car's history, potentially dipping below 2,000 vehicles for the first time. The U.S. sales high for the CLS was 14,835 in 2005, its inaugural year.
Exler attributed this year's drop to a combination of lower car sales in the industry and CLS shoppers knowing a redesign was around the corner. He also noted that the CLS has many more competitors than when it launched more than a decade ago.
Influenced in part by demand from the U.S., the car will gain a fifth seat. It also will be powered by Daimler's new 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, making it the first U.S. application of the automaker's new 48-volt electrical system. With the new generation, Mercedes no longer will put an eight-cylinder in its base U.S. market CLS, which now will be called the CLS450.
Mercedes says the new straight-six delivers the performance of an eight-cylinder engine with significantly lower fuel consumption. The outgoing base CLS550 is powered by a 4.7-liter turbocharged V-8 producing 402 hp.
The six-cylinder engine will produce 362 hp in the CLS. It will get an additional 21 hp from an integrated starter generator that Mercedes is calling EQ Boost. EQ Boost will assist the combustion engine during acceleration and can make driving without the combustion engine possible in a mode Mercedes calls "sailing."
Mercedes launched the inline-six in the re-engineered S-class sedan that went on sale this year but didn't include the engine in the U.S. lineup.
Mercedes announced 2019 CLS450 and CLS450 4MATIC models that will go on sale by fall 2018. An AMG variant also is expected with the new generation — a CLS53 model that will launch a new designation of AMG 53 models for Mercedes-AMG.
With the update, the CLS moves to a new platform — MRA, or Modular Rear Architecture, the same platform used for the redesigned E class. It gets the latest suite of Mercedes semiautonomous driving features that debuted on the re-engineered S class.
Pricing for the 2019 CLS will be announced later. a