Mercedes took the unusual step on Friday evening of introducing an important new model to the world's press in the UK. The unveiling of a revamped version of the large CL coupé took place at Mercedes-Benz World, a showcase for the German company's past and present products on the site of the famous historic Brooklands motor racing circuit in Surrey.
The CL, despite its badging, is an S-Class-sized car – the "C" denotes a coupé model, rather than a C-Class variant. The latest version enjoys a number of substantial under-the-skin changes, the most important of which is a new bi-turbo V8 engine fitted to the CL 500 Blue EFFICIENCY model. This is 800cc smaller than its predecessor but provides 12 per cent more power (435 horsepower), and far more torque – 700 Newton metres instead of 530. According to the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests, fuel consumption is improved by 23 per cent to 29.7mpg. CO2 emissions fall from 288g/km to 224g/km. The improvements are the result of "third-generation" direct petrol injection and other engine improvements, as well as a stop/start system. Alongside the CL 500 BlueEFFICIENCY, the company continues to offer a more powerful twelve-cylinder engine in the CL 600.
As well these drivetrain improvements, the latest CL is also available with two new safety systems. The first of these, Active Lane Keeping Assist, will gently brake the car if it drifts out of a continuously marked lane; the braking is applied to the opposite side of the car to that which has left the lane, and operates only after the driver has failed to respond to an initial warning signal delivered as a brief vibration through the steering wheel. A number of manufacturers have offered systems that monitor lane-keeping and warn the driver should the car deviate from its course, but the Mercedes set-up is unusual in actively intervening to keep the car out of trouble. Active Lane Keeping Assist will also be offered on the S-Class saloon.
The second important new safety system is Active Blind Spot Assist; here, Mercedes has followed the same course of adding the possibility of active intervention to an existing warning technology. Several manufacturers, most notably Volvo with its BLIS technology, now offer warning systems that alert drivers to other road users who may be lurking in the blind spots of their rear view mirrors. Active Blind Spot Assist goes a stage further in intervening to make a collision less likely should a driver ignore the warnings provided by the system; as in the case of Active Lane Keeping Assist, the means of intervention is a gentle application application of the brakes on the opposite side of the car to the threat.
The unveiling of the new CL was timed to coincide with this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed, reflecting the Festival's growing importance in the motor industry calendar, especially in the continuing absence of any official British motor show of the orthodox type.