the Selina Kyle of the auto industry

http://www.forbes.com/2006/07/06/mercedes-clclass-coupe_cx_dl_0707vow.html?partner=alerts
Mercedes' Covetable New Coupe Dan Lienert, 07.07.06, 12:30 AM ET
Mercedes is the Selina Kyle of the auto industry.
Kyle, Michelle Pfeiffer's character in the 1992 film Batman Returns, metamorphoses from a prim, socially awkward secretary into the sexy, leather-clad, steel-clawed Catwoman. DaimlerChrysler (nyse: DCX - news - people ) is supervising a similar transformation in the exteriors of its Mercedes luxury cars.
Just a couple of years ago, Mercedes-Benz was creating cars that were handsome, but staid and uptight compared with the provocative designs of Audis, BMWs and Porsches--the other German luxury vehicles. Take a closer look at Mercedes' new flagship coupe.
That has changed. Mercedes' last-generation SLK-Class entry-level convertible was tiny and cutesy, but the new model is sleek and has racy styling inspired by the company's $450,000 SLR McLaren supercar.
The last S-Class flagship sedan was a bit toothless; it became a favorite of livery drivers, who love innocuous designs. The new model is angular and aggressive.
And Mercedes' new CLS-Class sedan line stunned consumers with its rounded, coupe-like shape. People weren't expecting a Mercedes this alluring.
Last week, Mercedes' overhauled CL-Class flagship coupe broke cover, and the first official photographs tell us the company's lineup is about to get even sexier. The new CL, which will go on sale around December, has enough rounded lines in profile and on the front end to make you forget that "Mercedes" used to be synonymous with "boxy." Inspired by the successful, sexy design of the CLS-Class sedan, the new CL looks more like a sports car than its predecessor.
The outgoing CL starts at $96,000 and sells in limited numbers. As Mercedes was winding down the car's production, the CL-Class had an American sales volume of 1,320 units last year (compare that with the 61,000 entry-level C-Class models Mercedes sold in 2005). In a typical year, the CL could see at least 3,000 American sales (its performance in 2003). But even when the vehicle is selling at full strength, it is still one of the lowest-volume Mercedes-Benzes, outselling only the boxy, militaristic G-Class SUV and the uber-expensive SLR McLaren.
But a more aggressive, sexier CL-Class could ignite the line's sales.
With its big grille and pronounced headlights, the new car's front end is bolder than that of the old model. In a recent statement, Mercedes said the light modules are mounted in "polished tubes reminiscent of expensive camera lenses." The proportions of the grille and headlights emphasize the car's width.
As with the new S-Class flagship sedan, the new CL has prominent, rounded arches over the wheel wells. The entry-level CL will have 18-inch alloy wheels with a nine-spoke design.
The rounded roof features slim front pillars and no B-pillars--the structural, vertical supports behind a car's front doors that connect the sills with the roof. The absence of B-pillars and the use of a large, curving rear window are classic Mercedes coupe touches that the company has used for over 40 years. The exterior design ends in a muscular, rounded rear end with two tailpipes.
The interior employs a center console with a tunnel shape that extends into the rear seating area. Burl walnut wood trim is available for the console, doors and rear side panels. Black ashwood is another option, and hand-picked poplar wood is an option reserved for the more-expensive, V-12-powered CL 600.
The phrase "leather interior" used to connote luxury, but the CL milks that idea for maximum effect by offering three different leather grades. The top-of-the-line CL 600 model has an exclusive leather interior with a dashboard, center console and interior door panels lined in fine nappa leather. In this premium interior, the headliner and roof pillars are covered in high-quality Alcantara.
The entry-level CL 550 will use the S-Class' 5.5-liter V-8 engine, which will produce 382 horsepower in this application. The CL 600 will use a 510-hp V-12 with twin turbochargers. Take a closer look at Mercedes' new flagship coupe.
Forbes Fact
Since the reconstruction of Europe after World War II, Mercedes has been building coupes for elite customers. Mercedes says that the 300 Sc coupe it unveiled in 1955 was designed for the company's "enthusiastic target group," which included film stars Gary Cooper and Errol Flynn.
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Maybe, but it's a lot of money for only four seats and no removable roof.
DAS
For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling
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Dori A Schmetterling wrote:

I had the same thought.
They need to figure out a way to get that roof to disappear.
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Maybe they should talk to Karmann again...
DAS
For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling
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According to auto motor und sport, Mercedes-Benz is considering the convertible version of S-Class...
greek_philosophizer wrote:

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