In its pursuit to offer a coupe version for its flagship model, the S-Class, Mercedes-Benz struggled to find a proper name and, in 1996, it came up with the CL designation.
The 1996 CL was more of a facelift for the SEC model, that was built since 1992. Both the SEC and the CL shared the same modified platform from the W140 S-Class sedan. It was built more like a grand tourer, with four rear seats and comfortable suspension.
The CL didn't look like a sports car. It was tall, wide, and with a big front fascia. It borrowed some styling principles from the S-Class. On the side, the frameless windows and the rear windows could roll down and, without a B-pillar, the car offered the image of a faux-cabriolet (fake cabriolet).
Inside, it was built as a luxury vehicle, with a big and tall dashboard, a straight center stack and more features carried over from the S-Class. Its instrument cluster featured five round dials with a total of seven gauges for various information. The leather upholstery and the wood grain were standard. As a novelty for those times was the parktronic system, which added parking sensors and digital displays for it.
For the engine bay, the car-maker installed only V8 and V12 gasoline units mated to a standard 5-speed automatic gearbox. For safety systems, the CL was fitted with a traction control system.