The Mercedes-Benz CL-Class is a line of luxury coupés produced by the German automaker Mercedes-Benz. The name CL stands for the German Coupe Leicht (English: Coupe Light).
The CL-Class is based on the S-Class fullsize luxury sedan. Known at first as the SEC and later S coupé, it was spun off into its own, current name in 1996 and in 1997 for North American markets. The CL continues to follow the same development cycle as the S, though riding on a shorter wheelbase, and sharing the same engines albeit with less choice as only the higher-output powertrains are offered. The current generation of the CL is actually heavier than the S (considering equivalent trims, due to the roof engineering required to compensate for the lack of a central B-pillar).
The present generation of the CL-Class, C216, is currently available in four models: CL 500 (CL 550 in some markets, with standard 4MATIC in Canada and the USA), CL 600, CL 63 AMG and CL 65 AMG. The CL 65 AMG is the most powerful model of the CL and the most expensive Mercedes-branded vehicle, slightly edging out its S-Class equivalent S65 AMG and the SLS. CL sales are the third-lowest of Mercedes-Benz in North America with under 1400 units sold in 2006, as only the G-Class four-wheel drive and two-seat SLS AMG sell smaller numbers; annual CL sales equal Ford pickup sales for one day. However, this degree of distinction is considered attractive to CL buyers.
Main competitors of the CL-Class in the luxury 2+2 coupe segment include the Aston Martin DBS, Bentley Continental GT, BMW 6 Series (particularly the M6), and the Ferrari 612. The CL-Class has more rear legroom than these aforementioned competitors.
With the upcoming 2012 Mercedes-Benz W222 S-Class, an S Coupe is expected to replace the CL-Class for the 2013 model year (similar to how the 2010 E-Class Coupe succeeded the CLK-Class), reuniting the fullsize sedan and coupe lines under the S-Class nameplate.