Sunday, December 04, 2005

I'm Having an ASMA Attack

The Mercedes-Benz CLS-class is one of the most beautiful cars on the road today. When they released the new sedan with the swoopy, coupe-like body as an '05 model, Mercedes created a new class of luxury automobiles: the "four-door coupe."

The competition? They've taken notice. Both VW and Porsche have cars in the pipeline that follow this same formula.

To be sure, the decision on whether or not to add a CLS to the garage is not one that can be made by everyone. The "regular" CLS 500 starts at around $65,000. The high-performance AMG variant, the CLS 55, which brings a 469hp supercharged V8 to the party, starts at $87,000.

If that's a decision you're in a financial position to make, then you can take your new purchase even further by sending it to a highly-regarded tuning house such as Brabus, Kleeman, or Carlsson, who will take the car's styling and performance to the next level...for a price. One thing you'll notice when you click those links is that the styling enhancements are not over-the-top. They preserve the inherent beauty of the CLS styling, while giving the car that little bit of extra edge that sets it apart from the factory vehicle.

As is the case when you discuss car tuning, it is possible to go too far. Don't believe me? Look at the horrifyingly bespoilered and ridiculously-winged examples of the Honda Civic you can find tooling around your neighborhood. I don't care how much power Johnny Localboy is coaxing out of his Honda four-banger, chances are that the adjustable rear wing he has hanging off the back of the car...the kind that racers use to stay planted to the taking things too far.

Sadly, the desecration of perfectly good-looking cars is not limited to $20,000 econoboxes.

Yes, as evidenced at last month's Essen Motor Show in germany (which is essentially Europe's version of our annual SEMA show in Vegas, where all the tuning firms trot out their latest projects and accessories), even the drop-dead-gorgeous CLS can be ruined by tuners looking to "enhance" the car's inherent style.

I present to you ASMA Design's CLS Shark II:

Who knew that the old-school Cylon Centurion could be an inspiration for a car?

ASMA Design. What a mess. Somebody please get me an inhaler....