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A coupé conveys clear-cut messages. Its owner buys one because of its styling and beauty, appreciates its flowing silhouette – and, in a way, dresses in it for each journey as if putting on particularly elegant attire. The fact that a powerful engine is usually also available is regarded with favour – coupé owners after all wish to travel at brisk speeds and dynamically without sitting in a sports car.
A coupé is the continuation of a specific lifestyle on four wheels. And that is what the Coupés of the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class do in a most elegant and expressive fashion.
This is what the brochure about the C 126 series from the year 1985 had to say: “This vehicle concept has always embodied a felicitous combination of perfect engineering and out-of-the-ordinary aesthetic styling. It is the role model for a refined sporty automobile because it additionally boasts all the other characteristics which distinguish a Mercedes.”
Mercedes-Benz has always offered coupés, with particular attention paid to the large Coupés derived from the S-Class Saloons – they are flagships not just for the company but also for the people at the wheel.
The coupé as an exclusive body design is a legacy of the automobiles from the days of the horse-drawn carriage, when the coupé – presumably so-called because it resembled a four-seater carriage with its front end cut-off (French: “coupé”) – offered two seats in the comfort of the cab with the coachman seated up front on the open box seat. People who chose this mode of travel clearly liked to demonstrate a sense of style and individuality even before the invention of the internal combustion engine and its integration in a vehicle.
Among early automobiles the coupé retained a strong focus essentially on two persons travelling in style. By the 1950s, however, it was commonplace for coupés to have place for four people. But the body incorporates a number of basic features that persist to this day. A coupé generally has very low, flowing lines which create a stretched silhouette. It often dispenses with the B pillar altogether, and the C pillar slopes gently into the tail. The roof is generally shorter than in the case of a sedan, and curved at the rear. The side windows are usually frameless.
The features also apply to the current Coupé from the C 216 series and its predecessors. Since the 1950s, in particular, the brand with the three-pointed star has been offering an uninterrupted line of exclusive coupés. Each one addresses a clientele with a reassured taste, i.e. people who select this type of car quite consciously. These people opt for motoring pleasure at the wheel and for driving themselves, wishing to cover even longer distances without any signs of fatigue that would be worth mentioning.
Coupé buyers enjoy a discreetly impressive appearance. For them, less is more: two doors are a statement of the generous passenger compartment’s concentration above all on the driver and the front passenger, even though virtually all large Mercedes-Benz Coupés are fully fledged four-seaters. The four-door Mercedes-Benz CLS Coupé broadened this perspective at its debut in 2004 – showing once again how Mercedes-Benz keeps the automotive world turning. A further highlight featuring coupé elements was the “Concept Shooting Brake,“ which Mercedes-Benz presented at Auto China 2010 in April. The car combines the elegant flowing lines of a coupé with the steep tail end of an estate.
The tradition of luxury coupés goes far back into the history of Mercedes-Benz. In addition to the classic coupés, one body design created in the 1930s for the luxury 500 K (W 29) and 540 K (W 29) models was that of the motorway courier. The design took its name from the new high-speed motorways that were under construction in Germany at the time; compared with today, of course, these new long-distance roads had much less traffic, and with its streamlined body the motorway courier could occasionally be seen almost literally flying into the distance. The motorway courier was the last word in state-of-the-art design – not to mention exclusivity, since anyone able to afford such a vehicle at the time certainly enjoyed grand appearances and a mobile lifestyle.
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