By on August 18, 2010

With the debut of Audi’s A7 Sportback, and a BMW four-door GranCoupe coming in 2012, it’s clear that the four-door coupe segment is here to stay. At least in Europe. This year Mercedes is coming back into the segment swinging, with an updated CLS shown here in the first leaked official images [via Autocar]. But will the four-door coupes ever make serious headway in the US market? In the last 12 months, the CLS has sold fewer than 2,000 examples in the US market. VW’s Passat CC on the other hand has sold 29,114 units in the last 12 months, more than double the volume of the regular Passat. What does this say about four-door coupes in the US market? Probably that their sales depend heavily on the appeal of their sedan versions: Mercedes sedans have become handsome enough to make the CLS look overstyled, while the CC offers much-needed visual flair to the otherwise-anodyne Passat. But will the segment grow as BMW and Audi wade in?

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24 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Four-Doors Recouped Edition...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    That’s not the most flattering (or realistic) lighting, but still, yeesh, forget over-styled. This new CLS is a mess, plain and simple.

  • avatar
    ash78

    No matter what the economic situation, no matter what the country, virtually everyone buys cars on STYLE first (as long as there are no egregious shortcomings in safety/economy/etc).

    However, I think 4-door coupes are a flash in the pan. All the early adopters are grabbing their CCs, and it will take time before they realize “my rear passengers hate being cramped” (or better yet, “I don’t carry rear passengers, so why don’t I just buy a traditional coupe?”)

    I often carp about too many cars being compromises–and mainstream purchases should be “good” compromises–but the 4DC bodystyle is one of the most poorly compromised designs out there. All the size and weight of a 4-door sedan (which itself is pretty lame), but with one fewer passenger and less interior volume.

  • avatar
    mjz

    The original CLS was gorgeous. This thing is hideously overstyled. Way too busy, too many swooshes, plus it looks lumpy.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Benz hasn’t been able to style their way out of a wet paper bag post-Bangle. Everything new in their portfolio is amateurishly overstyled crap. That people still pay premium prices for them, I can’t understand.

  • avatar

    Hideous is the watchword here and proof that Chris Bangle is alive and now ruining cars at Daimler. This is the kind of “design” that used to come out of bad Korean reinterpretation of someone else’s forgettable designs.

  • avatar
    twotone

    Am I the only person who does not get the “four-door coupe” concept? If I want a four-seat coupe, I’ll buy a CL (or E coupe). If I want a four-door, I’ll buy an E-Class sedan. I’ve sat in all models and would not want to ride in the rear of a CLS for any extended period of time.

    Twotone

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      I’m totally OK with the “fastback sedan” segment, and shame on TTAC for following the OEM labeling. What’s next, calling station wagons “touring”, and using some other euphemism for “SUV”?

      To me, “four-door coupe” implies suicide mini-doors, like the RX-8 or the late Saturn.

    • 0 avatar
      crush157

      @twotone Exactly! Last year I was looking for a new ride and I decided that an 07 CLS had the performance and style I was looking for…. After seeing a very low mileage 06 CL (12k) and after driving it and then looking in the back seat at the room, there wasn’t much to say anymore about the CLS…

  • avatar
    340-4

    IMHO the entire ‘four door coupe’ is just another marketing answer for which there was no question. Amazing that the entire concept was greenlit for production. Makes no sense to me unless you really need another door to open to put your cat or groceries back there and even then, why not just get an actual sedan?

    The RX-8 has it right. The others, not so much.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    I don’t know what it is with Mercedes design these days, but I don’t like it. It looks far too busy, fussy lines all over the place. And I don’t like the banana bow the swage line takes, that’s been tarnishing their cars since W220. The CLS was once in a blue moon, a moment of clarity, god reached down and graced a fool with beauty. This is a mess, this is actually quite hideous.

    Mercedes had a clarity of line from the Paul Bracq days and forward, the cars were conservatively styled, but clean and timeless, there was an air of sobriety of it all. Now, Mercedes takes its styling cues from the Hyundai Genesis and Jurassic Park.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Hideous is in the eye of the beholder.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I think the 4DC styling on the new Hyundai Sonata has had a lot to do with its popularity. The psuedo-coupe styling does make cars like the new Sonata and the CC look more expensive than they are, and a lot of people who are downgrading from their previous vehicle due to economic realities would still like to at least give themselves the image that they haven’t fallen as far as they think.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Comparing the sales volume of a $30k car to an $80k one is in no way an equitable measure of sales success. It also fails to take into account that the Passat CC is still relatively new and exciting to trend-conscious buyers, whereas the CLS is a lame-duck model that’s been available for five years.

  • avatar

    Hyundai called. They want their Sonata back.

  • avatar

    I really liked the look of the old CLS, but every time I stepped out of one in the auto show, I hit my head against the roof. Made me think it was not, perhaps, such a great idea for me. Also it seemed really expensive for a tarted-up E.

    Here in West Palm, the VW dealer is having a $200 a month lease promotion on the Passat CC. Considering that the Jetta’s lease is $190 a month, that seems like quite a deal. I suspect that’s why the CC is selling well. The girl at the shopping mall where they had this set up said most CCs go for about $300 a month, not $199, but still if you can get anything vaguely like a CC for hardly any more than a Jetta it seems like the way to go for me.

    D

    • 0 avatar

      Forgetting for a moment how “useful” the fastback design might be, the Passat CC is a stunning execution of the original CLS concept. VW/Audi and Porsche seem to have captured the best of “German” design. The Panamera may not have the panache of the Maserati Quattroporte, but the interior is as elegant as I’ve seen in a modern car.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      VW is offering a $300 CC lease with 3K down; the dealer is required to throw in $2500 (whatever that means). The Jetta lease requires $200/mo with 2K down. You get 30 thousand miles over 3 years.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Car names and styles always make me smile. A four-door sedan by any other name is a: SEDAN! Even chopped top ones. Everyone wants to emulate the ’49 Merc. I wish they’d bring back a more formal roofline, you know, the style where you can see the back edge of the trunk and front edge of the hood and even see out the windows without a beltline so high you feel like Kilroy peeking over the wall. If Lockheed can make an F-117 stealth fighter areodynamic enough to fly, a more traditionally-styles auto can be made as fuel efficient as today’s jelly-bean look-alikes. Oh yeah, make it easy to enter and exit, too. Oh yeah, design for back seat passengers (what a novel thought). I mention this stuff for the fact that the population is aging and that sort of stuff begins to take on importance to people who actually buy cars to get around in. Or do I want the return of the Dodge Dynasty done right? Hmmm…

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    The “four door coupe” is just another excuse for automotive stylists to make beltlines even higher and windows more narrow; it is a runaway styling fad that has its roots in cars like the Chrysler 300, which (and say what you want about Chrysler) was an important design direction of the current incarnation of the automobile for this reason precisely.

    Until the “gun slit” window fad goes away, the 4DC will be here to stay.

  • avatar

    @ SVX pearlie: Don’t worry about station wagons called “Touring”: BMW already covers this problem, at least in Germany. The BMW station wagons are officially named “touring” for ages.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I can’t load the other pics because the site is too slow. Again. I don’t know what it is, but TTAC and FoxNews are the slowest sites around. Consistently, and no matter which computer I use.

    So to hell with it. Based on the photo accompanying the article, I like this MB.

    But that’s all I can say for now.


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