Mercedes-Benz-Blog TRIVIA: The great Mercedes-Benz Coupés - PART VII


Stuttgart, Germany, Jul 31, 2006

1999: Into the new millennium with the CL-Class

Major changes were once again in the air in 1999. Some people were less concerned about the impending currency changeover from the German Mark to the new Euro than about the unknown risks which a sequence of three zeros might present to computer systems and networks. As we now know the transition from 1999 to 2000 went smoothly, at least in computer systems.

One prominent sign of a new age was the official inauguration of the new Reichstag building in Berlin in 1999. This was visible confirmation of the city’s status as the capital of a reunited Germany. Other events in Germany also made the headlines: the writer Günter Grass was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But the year also saw further departures from the scene: the legendary tennis stars Steffi Graf and Boris Becker announced their retirement from competitive sport. Car ownership in Germany reached a new high of 516 cars per thousand inhabitants as the new millennium dawned.

There was also a world debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1999, where the innovative Mercedes-Benz CL-Class Coupé (C 215 series), the CL 500, was first presented to the public. In terms of design, engines and appointments this model impressively demonstrated the undiminished innovative strength of the Stuttgart manufacturer. The new design lines were unmistakable from the start: the long, flat bonnet, the dynamically arched roofline, the striking rear end and the expressive reinterpretation of the now familiar twin-headlamp face produced a form which exuded both sporty performance and elegance. Athleticism was incomparably combined with suppleness. Continuous side windows and the lack of B-pillars made the vehicle body appear light. This highly acclaimed coupé immediately captured the throne in this elite market, and was soon among the world’s most desirable luxury coupés.

The engines Mercedes-Benz offered with this extraordinary coupé did it full justice: the top-of-the-line CL 600 was equipped with a newly developed, smooth-running twelve-cylinder power unit developing 270 kW/367 hp and a torque of 530 Newton metres. Lightweight construction, three-valve technology, twin-spark ignition with an AC voltage ignition system and ionic current diagnosis, automatic cylinder cut-off, six catalytic converters and eight lambda sensors were just a few examples of the sophisticated technology featured in this state-of-the-art engine. The "smaller" CL 500 Coupé was equipped with the 225 kW/306 hp V8 engine.

New "ABC" of suspension technology

The new Mercedes Coupé included innovations as standard which no other car could boast at the time of its introduction, first and foremost the new Active Body Control (ABC) suspension system which achieved an unprecedented level of sportiness combined with comfort. On the basis of sensor signals and with the help of special hydraulic cylinders on the axles, ABC almost completely compensates rolling and pitching movements of the body when moving off, cornering and braking, making driving a new experience.

Other standard features of the new, large Coupé included an extensive safety package which knew no equal in terms of completeness, with front airbags and sidebags plus of course ESP® and the acceleration skid control system ASR. This was a technical configuration that made safe driving a tangible experience. Exemplary aerodynamics (Cd value of 0.28), lightweight construction methods and a new dimensional concept were further characteristics of the 1999 Mercedes-Benz CL Coupé. A state-of-the-art hybrid concept, which allowed the use of various lightweight materials such as aluminium, magnesium, steel and plastics, produced a weight saving of up to 340 kilograms compared with the preceding model series.

The appointments left nothing to be desired: they included a multifunction steering wheel, a five-speed automatic transmission with Touchshift and SPEEDTRONIC, and automatic climate control with an activated charcoal filter. Electrically adjustable leather seats with a memory function, leather trim on the dashboard and doors and exotic wood trim emphasised the special status of this Coupé. In the flagship CL 600 model, the COMAND control and display system, a telephone, sound system, exclusive nappa leather upholstery and a soft Alcantara lining on the pillars and roof underlined this model’s outstanding position in the automotive hierarchy.

In 2002 the V12 engine in the CL 600 was given twin turbochargers and a number of other improvements which increased its output to 368 kW/500 hp, and with a charge pressure of one bar this unit now generated a maximum torque of 800 Newton metres from 1800 rpm – this was 36 percent more output and no less than 51 percent more torque than the previous twelve-cylinder engine. As a result the CL 600 reached the 100 km/h mark from standstill in just 4.8 seconds, while the maximum speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h. The CL 55 AMG introduced in autumn 2002 was powered by the supercharged 5.5-litre V8 engine developed by Mercedes-AMG. Like the twelve-cylinder unit, this produced an output of 368 kW/500 hp but had even more sporty characteristics. The sporty driving experience was accentuated even further by gearshift buttons on the steering wheel.

The CL 500 remained unchanged with the exception of a few upgrading measures. In autumn 2002 Active Body Control (ABC) was revised for all variants, the weight of the vehicle at any given moment now also being measured and incorporated into the active suspension control calculations. This meant that the handling characteristics remained to a large extent constant no matter how the car was laden. The safety features were also refined as part of the model upgrade, including up-front sensors at the front end which detect the severity of an impact at an early stage and allow the front passenger airbag to be deployed in two stages depending on the situation. In addition the belt tensioners are activated sooner thanks to these sensors.
In 2003 the performance limits were expanded even further with the CL 65 AMG, which generates an output of 450 kW/612 hp and makes 1000 Newton metres of torque available between 2000 and 4000 rpm.

The production volume of these C 215-series Coupés shows that Mercedes-Benz is firmly on the right track with this continuation of the coupé tradition, with 46,800 units being produced by May 2006. The tradition of modern coupés by Mercedes-Benz, with their visionary symbiosis of perfectionism and emotion, will also continue into the future. Development will continue to be based on innovative strength and a future-oriented approach which are both visible and tangible. Perfected design, exclusive appointments and state-of-the-art vehicle technology will also combine to produce a seminal stylistic unit and a class of its own in the future.

Mercedes-Benz has produced a total of more than 178,000 luxury coupés since 1952.

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