Accounting for wheel size, Comfort or standard suspension tune and optional all-corner air suspension, there are more than 10 different rolling specifications for this CLS. The one that Mercedes chose for our test car wasn’t the one we’d have asked for (19s, standard suspension). But within a few hundred metres, it showed that Mercedes’ dynamic priorities for this car were the right ones.
Those who look for a supple ride from their big Benz won’t be disappointed. Low-slung and exotic it may be, but the CLS Shooting Brake is pleasingly gentle and compliant. The secondary ride of our test car could have been better; those 30-profile rear M&S tyres do create a bit of roar, as well as the occasional thump over sharper edges. But you’ll give the car the benefit of the doubt, given the way it glides through larger dips and over cattle grids, for example, holding occupant comfort paramount at all times. Mercedes has done an excellent job of matching the ride characteristics of the coil springs on the front with the air springs on the rear. The ride is flat and harmonious, and absorbent at all times.
It can still hunker down and take a corner, though. The CLS has direct and incisive steering and can be hauled into an apex much more easily than an equivalent E-class. Grip is well balanced between the axles and it’s a generally accurate and quietly rewarding drive. When really pushed, you can find faults with its handling, but they’re not big enough faults to discredit what is a particularly fine grand tourer.