OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE
Stuttgart, Germany, Mar 03, 2008
Coupes in every class
* Whether compact, mid-sized or luxury class, coupes enhance the product portfolio of Mercedes-Benz
* Mercedes-Benz CLS: The first four-door coupe made its debut in 2004
After the Second World War the coupe became a permanent feature in particular of the Mercedes-Benz mid-series, as well as of its premium-class models. Among the forerunners of today’s CL-Class were vehicles such as the 300 S coupe (W 188, 1952 to 1955) and the coupes of the 180 and 128 “three-box body” series, whose self-supporting bodies were fully in tune with the tastes of the day. 1961 saw the launch of coupes in the premium-class 111 series, then the following year that of the 112 series, all of them highly sought-after vehicles today. An intermediate step was the 107 series of the 1970s, which was based not a four-door premium-class sedan, but on the SL, so providing seats for two people only. The C 126 series on the other hand offered four proper seats, a feature that has been continued to the present day in the successor series C 140, C 215 and C 216.
In the Mercedes-Benz mid-series there has been an almost continuous coupe tradition since the late 1960s, represented today by the CLK series. The first mid-series coupe was the 114 series, more familiarly known as the Stroke Eight, since internally it bore the abbreviation “/8” to denote the year of its appearance, 1968. The car was also successfully exported to North America. The 123 series (1977 to 1985) followed seamlessly on and even offered a first-ever diesel-powered coupe – initially reserved for North American customers with a view to improving Corporate Average Fuel Economy there. The coupe tradition was continued by the 124 series from 1987 to 1996.
Thereafter the first CLK (208 series) took over, launched in 1997 and built until 2002. In advance of its development, Mercedes-Benz sounded out the market with the aid of a coupe study, presented in 1993 at the Geneva Motor Show and revealing to an enthusiastic public the brand’s new “four-eyed” face. The decision was taken to go ahead with the design. The current CLK 209 series, first produced in 2002, seamlessly built on the success of its predecessor.
The presentation of the Vision CLS at the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003 caused a sensation and gave the motoring public a foretaste of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, which appeared the following year. This car combined the best of two worlds, offering the spaciousness and four doors of a sedan, while at the same time exhibiting its clear coupe roots with a skillfully designed body. The CLS has already established itself as a modern automotive icon. And it has opened up a new market segment, with other carmakers producing four-door coupes in its wake.
No review of the coupe history of Mercedes-Benz would be complete without mention of three exceptional sports coupes. In 1954 came the 300 SL (W 198). Not just the gullwing doors and timeless body design place this car in a class of its own in the automotive world – the whole vehicle remains today both a dream car and a dream coupe in one. Then in 1969 the company presented the C 111, initially as a test vehicle for the Wankel engine. This coupe unleashed a storm of interest and Mercedes-Benz even received numerous blank checks from eager buyers. But the car never went into production. Finally, although the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren (199 series) of 2003 was no direct descendant of the 300 SL, it still bears the genes of the Gullwing. For it is both a dream sports car and an original coupe design. In both cases, the roadster versions were later additions.
Every Mercedes-Benz coupe is a classic, whether it has historic roots or hails from the current model portfolio. These vehicles round off the automotive product range and target a clientele for whom style and elegance retain a particular importance. Coupes are a lifestyle statement on wheels.
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