New Mercedes-Benz CLS

If you often drive long distances, cruise in luxury with this coupe.

In the past, you could marvel at a Mercedes-Benz, aspire to own one, or admire what it did; however, it was not often possible to form an emotional connection with one. But then in 2003 the CLS was ushered in and altered all that - as the model continues to do.
 
Based on similar underpinnings to the latest E-class – but with a spoonful of tech from the S-class, the latest third-generation CLS features five seats instead of four. And while this new variant may not be quite as ‘in your face’ as the first generation CLS, it still manages to turn heads. There’s a reason for this, Gorden Wagener, Chief Design Officer at Daimler AG, explains: “The new CLS is a design icon as the archetype of the four-door coupe. In line with our hot and cool design philosophy, we have reduced its DNA to an extremely puristic level while emotionally charging it with an almost erotic beauty."
 
Now, the CLS may be marketed as a coupe, but its driving behaviour is very much angled towards long-distance luxury cruising. Motorway trips are aided by outstanding refinement and superb suspension. This doesn’t mean the car can’t flex its muscles, though. 

In flagship '400d' diesel 4MATIC guise, as tested here, the car is nothing short of awesome to drive. It isn’t just the most stimulating diesel-propelled CLS; it is also the most powerful oil-burner Mercedes has ever shoehorned into a production car.

The Benz delivers 340PS and 700Nm, channelled via a nine-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive. Zero to 62mph arrives in just 5.0 seconds, meaning this diesel is only half a second behind the out and out AMG. As already alluded to, the CLS 400d is pleasing to munch many miles in. Everything is effortless. For instance, hardcore torque is accessible from just 1,200rpm, making overtaking almost too easy. The transmission is slick, also, kicking in speedily and ably. The German machine feels immensely planted in even the most inclement weather as well.
 
Inside, there is leather all over the place and, as you'd expect from Mercedes-Benz, the quality of craft is second to none. The car has digital dials and 64 shades of ambient lighting. But the focal points are the lit air vents that are fashioned like jet turbines. They are a delight, with their colours changing from purple to red to blue, depending on the temperature setting. Space is also good. Of course, this is no E-class, so the CLS isn’t quite as practical, but occupants who aren’t too tall will be happy sitting in the rear seats. Equipment-wise, every new CLS gets 19-inch alloys, an HD reversing camera, intelligent lighting and Agility Control suspension. 
mercedes_cls interior.jpg (257 KB)
At its heart, this Mercedes-Benz is all about relaxing back and taking life as it comes. It's a luxury machine that can move you from A to Z in a heartbeat. And that sensation of being carried along in absolute comfort is reinforced by the superb cabin, which shares a lot with the current S-class and E-class saloons. This CLS 400d 4MATIC 'AMG Line', as tested here, is priced from £60,740 and there's nothing equivalent in this segment. The nearest rivals are the BMW 6 Series GT 630d xDrive, and the Audi A7 Sportback 50 TDI. However, they both house lesser-powered diesel powerplants that compete more with the less heady CLS 350d 4MATIC model.

All in all, the CLS is an amazingly comfy, fittingly wafty four-door coupe that is not only visually pleasing but has levels of luxury running through it like a stick of Brighton rock. It handles well for such a large, weighty car, too.
 
Pros ‘n’ Cons
  • Stylish √
  • Comfortable √
  • Build quality √
  • Performance √
  • Rear headroom X

Fast Facts (CLS 400d 4MATIC AMG Line Coupe – as tested by Tim Barnes-Clay)
  • Max speed: 155mph
  • 0-62 mph: 5.0s
  • Combined mpg: 47.9
  • Engine layout: 2925cc 6-cylinder turbo diesel
  • Max. power (PS): 340
  • CO2: 148 g/km          
  • Price: £60,740

By Tim Barnes-Clay, motoring journalist.
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