More shutcrimes from Sindelfingen…
Far from being the worst offspring of the late Sacco/Peter Pfeiffer era at Mercedes-Benz, the CL-coupé (C215) still exhibits a very poignant reminder of what went wrong at Untertürkheim during this particular period of time. Its proportions are actually very pleasing indeed (unlike those of its immediate predecessor), yet the CL is utterly let down by its detailing.
Be it the spoiler lip at the rear, the sloppy bonnet sculpting, the a-pillar arrangement or the slightly awkward shoulder on the boot lid – lots of small wrongs help messing up what should, by all intents and purposes, be a fundamentally right design. But no element is quite as grating as what was certainly intended to be the cherry on top of the CL’s icing: the faux hardtop.
Supposedly reminiscent of Paul Bracq’s sublime W111 coupé, the C215 was intentionally equipped with a completely point-, as well as useless panel gap on its a-pillar. Along with the panel gap at the base of the b-pillar, it was supposed to lend the coupé the looks of a convertible with a hard top attached. Which the W111 actually did too, but that was a case of a lucky visual accident, rather than some daft Trompe-l’œil.
This gimmick really says more about the spirit of modern Mercedes design than even the absurd granite veneer option that was available for the CL, as well.