At the 2003 International Motor Show in Frankfurt the CLS was on everyone’s lips: as a seemingly contradictory study vehicle that nevertheless unleashed passionate enthusiasm. Just one year later it was regarded as a style icon on the world’s roads: an impressive 170,000 units of this vehicle were sold – a vehicle that should actually never have existed, according to strict automotive logic: a four-door coupe? But it was not just the sales figures that proved Mercedes-Benz right, for there was also a particularly nice compliment: the CLS inspired an entire sector virtually on the spot – it founded a whole new segment.
The redefined sensuous appearance of the “Gran Tourismo for four” clearly bears the signature of Mercedes-Benz’s chief designer, Prof. h. c. Gorden Wagener. It is the first model for which the new Head of Design was responsible from the first draft. He set himself correspondingly high standards: the CLS was to leave its indelible mark on automotive style in the years to follow.
This would by no means be the first sensational design era to be heralded by Mercedes-Benz: back in 1979 the S-Class of model series W 126 was created under legendary chief designer Bruno Sacco. And the elegance of this vehicle suited the revolutionary 190 very well three years later, too. It was also Sacco who shaped the decisive guiding principles for the Swabian global brand’s design: “A Mercedes-Benz always looks like a Mercedes-Benz.”