Mike Stevens | Jul 30, 2010

It was bound to happen: Mercedes-Benz has announced the end of production for the first-generation CLS line-up. The news follows confirmation earlier this month that BMW's current-generation M5 and M6 have also been put out to pasture.

Where the E60 M5 stood as the latest in a line that stretches back to the mid 1980s and the M6 marked BMW's return to a favourite badge, the CLS is often regarded as the model that kickstarted the 'four-door coupe' fad.

In the years since the E-Class-based CLS arrived in 2004, the four-door coupe genre has seen the arrival of the Porsche Panamera, the Aston Martin Rapide, Volkswagen's Passat CC and the Audi A5 and A7 Sportback models.

Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 170,000 examples of the CLS over its seven years on the market, and the last car to roll off the line was a black CLS550 destined for the US.

Taking up the mantle will be the 2011 CLS, expected to launch late this year with (yet) more premium positioning, thus enabling Mercedes-Benz to launch a second smaller four-door coupe at a lower price point.

Our preview rendering (above) gives an indication of the likely new style of the CLS beneath that camouflage.

Little is known on the engine front, but V6 and V8 options are likely, while a hybrid model based on the S400 BlueHybrid technology is expected to debut after launch.

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