When Mercedes launched the CLS back in 2005 it proved that the dynamic styling of a coupe could be matched to the practicality of a four-door saloon. Now in its third generation, the car oozes class and has the driving capabilities to match its looks.
The goodRocket design and goes like one too
The badWatch out for speed cameras
Mercedes CLS 400 d 4MATIC AMG Line Coupe
When Mercedes launched the CLS in 2005 it was seen as a quite a pioneering car because it offered the dynamic styling of a coupe combined with the practicality of a four-door saloon and that was a first for the industry.
Now, we move 13 years down the line and the premium German marque has just launched the all-new third generation CLS and while it still offers the same dramatic styling and all-round practicality of its predecessors, it also introduces a wealth of on-board technology in a luxurious cabin environment.
It has a dramatic appearance that’s guaranteed to turn heads with a more pronounced front end featuring distinctive air scoops, a wider diamond-effect grille and low-set headlights to accentuate the car’s width. The electric sliding sunroof, privacy glass and 19-inch alloys complete the dynamic appeal.
Move inside and the interior is definitely one of the finest on offer in today’s market. It oozes elegance, sophistication and premium styling with black leather upholstery, stunning grey open-pore ash wood trim, air vents that are inspired by jet engine turbines, 64-colour ambient lighting and a pair of 12.3-inch display screens that spread from the centre of the dashboard to the right of the steering wheel and sit neatly behind a glass panel.
One of these screens is where all the infotainment settings are accessed while the other offers details on the car’s vital signs such as speed, revs and fuel levels etc. This second screen, which is positioned behind the steering wheel, can be set in Classic, Sport or Progressive display depending on your mood.
On-board technology is plentiful with the likes of a pitch perfect 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system, an excellent sat nav set-up, a 360-degree camera, remote parking assist and wireless charging.
And the price is also competitive with our CLS 400 d 4MATIC in AMG Line specification starting life costing £60,410 but rising to £67,240 with the introduction of a few optional extras. The car was powered by a 3.0-litre 340hp diesel-driven engine mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. It could blast its way to 62mph from a standing start in a very rapid 5.0 seconds, redlined at an electronically-limited 155mph and, according to official figures, can deliver combined fuel economy of 47.9mpg with carbon emissions of 156g/km.
But statistics aside, it’s the manner in which the CLS performs that simply cannot be ignored. In fairness, the car looks like Mercedes’ take on the bullet train and it delivers a similar driving experience with blisteringly-quick acceleration and all the composure and elegance required from a premium marque these days.
It’s a car that offers the very best of both worlds. It can be driven with a little respect and returns the favour with a refined, yet accomplished performance. However, open up the throttle and fire across from Eco or Comfort driving modes into Sport or Sport+ and it’s a whole different story.
The power is instant and it keeps on coming. The road-holding is confidently grippy and the cabin is well insulated against any engine or road surface noise even when driven hard. The steering wheel mounted paddles offer extra control over the gear shifts if the mood takes you and the added bonus of Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system means you are guaranteed plenty of grip even in wetter driving conditions.
Whilst the Sport+ driving mode is great fun and guaranteed to put a smile on your face, it’s a fact that most business or family miles will be completed in Comfort mode and it’s here that the CLS truly excels. The seats feel like they have been purpose-built for you and they have ample power adjustment to find the ideal driving position along with memory settings. The air suspension irons out all but the most severe road creases and the luxurious surroundings, especially that ash wood trim, make you feel a little bit special.
Comfort levels in the back of the car are fine, although the sloping roof design means taller passengers may feel a little restricted height-wise. The boot has a 520-litre capacity and this can be increased further thanks to 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats. And elsewhere there’s a bundle of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car making the CLS a very practical family vehicle.
And, as one would expect, the CLS is packed with safety kit. Although it has not been tested for a Euro NCAP safety rating, it shares much of its structure with the latest E-Class model which gained a maximum five-stars.
All in all, the CLS forged the way ahead when it proved coupe styling and four-door practicality could work perfectly hand-in-hand. But the latest generation car ups the stakes even further with dynamic styling, brilliant handling and a cabin that will be the envy of many a premium manufacturer.
Mercedes CLS 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Shooting Brake
We know cars that drive themselves are undergoing rigorous testing, but it still never fails to amaze me the lengths that manufacturers go to in order to produce vehicles that cater to our every need.
And the Mercedes CLS is a perfect example of the car that proves that point.
Not only does it provide heated seats with a massage function, an incredible infotainment system to keep the fussiest of techies satisfied and all the mod cons we demand these days, but it even has a feature to lower the rear headrests – automatically.
It may not sound that inspiring, but it can be really frustrating when you’re setting off on a journey with seatbelt fastened and engine running, only to discover you can’t see a thing in the rearview mirror because all the rear headrests have been left up.
The normal dilemma would be – shall I bother lowering them? Shall I attempt to lean back and push them down or do I just drive off? Well, Mercedes has the answer because with the push of a button the rear headrests are restored to their proper position.
That is just one of the innovative features on the richly-equipped CLS which has a price-tag of £49,385, increased to £60,078 with a whole host of options added. Admittedly, it’s not cheap, but if you opt for a premium car can expect to pay a premium price.
Guaranteed to turn heads, the CLS boasts a stunning design with its bullet-like streamlining, electric glass sunroof, chrome radiator grille with two louvres, LED daytime running lights, privacy glass and 18-inch alloys.
The interior is both elegant and sophisticated with only the very finest leathers and materials used to create a warm and welcoming cabin environment.
All dials, controls and read-outs are perfectly positioned for driver usability and all occupants are treated to bags of room to stretch out in style.
The massive boot can easily cope with any storage requirements as it can hold 590 litres worth of luggage which can be increased to 1,550 litres with the 60:40 split-folding rear seats laid flat.
But the CLS is not all about airs and graces. It may be very refined, but the performance and driving dynamics are awesome.
The 2.2-litre diesel-powered engine delivers plenty of oomph as the car soars to 62mph in just 7.8 seconds and tops out at 146mph.
The ride is incredibly smooth as it accelerates through the seven-speed automatic transmission. In fact, it would be fair to say the CLS seems to actually glide across the Tarmac absorbing all the bumps, dips and unexpected potholes with ease.
Road-holding is excellent and tight bends are attacked and conquered with confidence. The seats even adjust to support the driver and front seat passenger when turning sharply.
Although the CLS is a car that is very at home on the open road, it proved deceptively nimble for its size around town and parking is made easier by the abundance of sensors and cameras. Although, be warned – you will need an extra large space.
Mercedes has fitted the CLS with a very comprehensive range of safety specifications and there is an excellent security system to keep any uninvited attention at bay.
All in all, the CLS is a delight to drive. It may be big, but it’s certainly not cumbersome and the luxurious features would not be out of place in a seven-star hotel.
Mercedes-Benz CLS 350 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Sport
Mercedes has re-written the guidelines when it comes to producing a sophisticated, elegant vehicle that oozes class and creativity at every turn.
Introducing the latest CLS model, which blends the smooth lines of a top supermodel, with the muscular physique of a body-builder.
The end result is a car that looks drop dead gorgeous, but has performance credentials to blow you away.
Yet, somehow the CLS accomplishes such greatness with an air of dignity. There are no garish or pretentious features, just pure unadulterated class.
First impressions are vital these days and the CLS certainly ticks all the boxes with its sculpted lines, flared wheel arches, 19-inch alloys, LED tail lights and LED daytime running lights, twin chrome exhaust pipes, electric sunroof and so much more.
And that wow factor is just as apparent once you take your seat behind the leather, three-spoke multi-function sports wheel.
Only the very best materials and finest leathers have been used by Mercedes and that means you are surrounded by sheer luxury. There is, for example, aubergine leather on display with a black ash wood trim, an Alcantara roof lining. The seats, which can be electrically adjusted and heated even offer a massage function if so desired.
And the ambient lighting package just adds to the relaxed charm of this vehicle.
This is achieved thanks to a number of small LED lamps and optical fibres that illuminate the undersides of the dashboard, door trim and centre console.
When it gets dark, these subtle lighting elements help to create a calming atmosphere. And there are three different colours to choose from and the levels of brightness can also be controlled.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include a very efficient air con system with pollen filter, a 14-speaker audio system with surround sound, CD player, MP3 compatibility and DAB radio, Bluetooth connectivity, one-touch electric windows, a reversing camera and plenty more besides.
The CLS is a four-door, four seater and all occupants are treated to limousine-comfort standards with ample leg, head and elbow space.
The generously sized boot can easily accommodate the luggage requirements and there are plenty of smaller storage options spread throughout the cabin.
And when it comes to the really important factor – the performance, the CLS is an absolute dream come true.
The 3.0-litre, diesel-driven engine produces incredible power and acceleration as the vehicle soars through the impressively smooth 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission.
Road holding is amazingly good even on wetter surfaces and the suspension, which has been specially adapted for the Sport model, absorbs every tiny bump or pothole with ease.
Added to this, the CLS boasts BlueEFFICIENCY technology which improves fuel and carbon emissions figures.
The cabin and road surface noise seems non- existent and at times, the CLS actually seems to glide along.
My only gripe after a week behind the wheel concerned the electronically operated boot. If it was opened following a very heavy shower, water dripped into the boot.
But that aside, the CLS is an absolute pleasure to drive and no journey in this beauty would be too long.
Of course, Mercedes has fitted an extremely comprehensive list of safety features to the CLS. Many are instantly recognisable such as anti-lock brakes, airbags, electronic stability programme etc. But there are a number of accident prevention features too, including active blind spot assist, automatic headlamp beam control to avoid dazzle and active lane keeping assist.
All in all, the CLS is a fantastic car that offers limousine style comfort and sports car performance.
Admittedly, it’s not cheap – the test model was priced at £68,578 which included £15.5k of extras, but for me, it’s worth every last penny.