2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS: A Pretty Face Pummeled

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz CLS's predecessor was a recent high-water mark of form over function with beautiful details and proportions that helped start the coupe/sedan craze. The 2012 sports a fancier interior and a facelift with dowdier features. Progress?

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Mercedes did an amazing job transforming the E-Class chassis into a masterpiece of styling with the original 2003 CLS. It still draws stares and looks absolutely timeless. Mercedes is in the midst of applying a new global grille across the lineup and the upright, open maw and angry headlights of the SLS AMG get pasted onto the CLS with dubious results. While the belt line remains unchanged, the sweeping front-to-rear character lines have been replaced with the overwrought side stamping from the S-class. No official powertrain details yet, but conventional wisdom says it'll get a 429-hp twin-turbo 4.6-liter V8 and 5.5-liter twin-turbo 570-hp AMG V8 version.

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Mercedes completely redesigned the interior and offers five different trim levels in five different colors with three different grades of leather and three kinds of wood, black lacquer or carbon fiber trim. Unfortuantely, the design that forces rear-seat passengers to fall ass-first towards the rear seat while folded in half's still there. Oh, we forgot to talk about the 71 LEDs in the lighting, that's a big selling point, apparently.

[Mercedes]