MONTVALE, N.J. – After a 12-year run and more than 460,000 sales across two generations, Mercedes-Benz has replaced the CLK with the 2010 E-class coupe.
Debuting at the Geneva motor show in March with U.S. sales slated to begin in June, the up market, two-door represents a departure from its predecessor not only in name but also on a technical basis, according to the manufacturer, switching from the old C-class platform to a modified version of the structure that underpins the recently revealed E-class sedan.
The change is part of a broader plan to take the E-class coupe farther up market from the position held by the outgoing CLK, in the process providing room at the lower end of the Mercedes line for the introduction of a C-class coupe.
In keeping with the name change, the exterior design of the new coupe is heavily influenced by the E-class sedan. Traditional flourishes include a prominent grille, frameless doors, and a pillarless greenhouse. They are offset by distinctive twin trapezoidal-shaped headlamps, a clamshell hood and overwrought rear-wheel arch flares, which Mercedes says are intended to echo a styling cue from the famous 1953 Ponton Mercedes.
It is 1.8-in. longer and wider, but almost an inch lower than the outgoing second-generation CLK, with a nearly 2-in. longer wheelbase. The increase in exterior dimensions makes for greater interior accommodation — legroom and shoulder room have increased both front and rear, according to Mercedes.
The E-class coupe will be the basis for a new E-class convertible as well, replacing the CLK droptop. It will debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September and go on sale in the United States in early 2010. It will come with a traditional fabric roof.
Inside, the E-class coupe’s cabin and dashboard layout are similar to the E-class sedans. The emphasis is on re-establishing the Mercedes reputation for quality, with plush materials and all of the latest gadgetry, including its rotary COMAND controller. The front seats boast a full-length backrest with integral headrests, while the individual rear seats can be folded away to extend the volume of the trunk, which is larger than the trunk on the CLK.