2004 Mercedes-Benz CLS
Before the 2004 Mercedes-Benz CLS arrived in 2003, there were coupes, sedans, sports cars, and wagons. But Mercedes-Benz created something new. The CLS was billed as a four-door coupe—essentially, a sedan with sexy coupe sheet metal. The roofline looked chopped, creating a sweeping profile.
Today it seems obvious that luxury-car buyers would want a roomy sedan with sleek sheet metal. But the CLS was the first; it was popular, and it influenced other automakers to build their own four-door coupes. VW was the first to follow with the Passat CC. Then came Porsche's Panamera, Audi's A7, Aston Martin's Rapide, and, most recently, BMW's Gran Coupe. Even crossovers have been given the four-door coupe treatment—as evidenced by the BMW X6 and Acura ZDX—to limited success.